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How to Brighten Up a Basement Without Windows (20 Simple Tricks)

Without windows, basements have a tendency to feel like, well…like dungeons. Transforming a dark basement into a bright, inviting space can feel daunting. Don’t worry, though – there are plenty of ways you can brighten up a basement with no windows!

Today, I’m sharing my top tips for lightening up your lower level so that it feels more open and spacious. 

dark basement with text that reads: how to brighten a windowless basement - #3 is crucial!

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How to Brighten Up a Basement Without Windows

Below are twenty of the best ways to lighten and brighten a basement without windows. First and foremost, consider your current lighting – sufficient lighting is the Number One way to create a more open, airy feel in your space. 

After you’ve remedied your lighting situation, consider incorporating as many of the other ideas as possible. 

1. Layer Your Lighting

When it comes to brightening any dark space, lighting should be your primary concern. Oftentimes, basements have insufficient light. 

Add more lighting in layers: ambient (overhead) lighting, task lights, accent lights, wall sconces, lamps, and LED light strips.

The more “layers” of light you can add to your basement, the brighter it will feel. (And it will feel less like a dungeon!)

2. Add Recessed Lighting

In the last section, I mentioned ambient, or overhead, lighting as one of the layers. If your basement is dark, you likely have flush-mounted fixtures on the ceiling. These types of fixtures really can’t provide sufficient lighting in a windowless basement.

Recessed lighting will provide much more light than one or two ceiling mounted fixtures. If possible, add plenty of recessed cans to your basement to help brighten it up.

basement without windows that has recessed lighting and light colored walls and flooring

3. Lighten Up the Walls 

Whether your walls are sheetrock, concrete block, or paneling, go ahead and paint them. White is the obvious choice, although you’ll want to choose your white (or any color) wisely. 

Some of the best white paint colors for a basement with no windows include: 

  • High Reflective White (Sherwin Williams)
  • Alabaster (Sherwin Williams)
  • Decorator’s White (Benjamin Moore)
  • Super White (Benjamin Moore)

A few other nice dark basement paint colors:

  • Agreeable Gray (Sherwin Williams)
  • Sea Salt (Sherwin Williams)
  • Gray Owl (Benjamin Moore)
  • Jasper Opal (Benjamin Moore)

The wrong paint color could make your basement feel cold and dreary, so be sure to sample any colors you’re considering. Of course, you should only do this once you’ve added sufficient lighting to your basement.

You can either buy some small cans of each color and paint swatches directly onto the walls or order peel-and-stick samples (made with real paint) to move around your space. 

Wondering where to get them from? You can order large peel-and-stick samples through Samplize.

4. Paint the Ceiling

Wondering what the best basement ceiling paint colors are? You can either paint the ceiling white or whatever color you’ve chosen for the walls. (See the previous section for ideas.) 

Honestly, either option is fine and will help to lighten up the basement considerably.

5. Incorporate Reflective Materials

Shiny surfaces reflect light, helping to create the illusion of a larger, brighter space. Reflective materials include paint and flooring that have a slight sheen, metallic hardware and door handles, and even mirrors.

6. Add Light Colored Flooring

In the last section, we talked about choosing flooring that has a slight sheen (or shine). Your flooring should also be light colored to help brighten up the space – whether it’s laminate flooring, carpeting, or something else.

Ideally, you will want to stick with just one color and one type of flooring material for consistency, and this will help your space feel larger. Obviously, this is not a rule (because something different might be necessary in a laundry area, for example), but it’s just something to consider.

7. Brighten With Area Rugs

You may want to add area rugs to your basement, whether it’s to help warm up cold floors or simply to bring in a little bit of color. Either way, avoid dark or dreary colors and go for something that’s light or bright.

8. Utilize Mirrors

Strategically place mirrors throughout your basement to help bounce light around. You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s a popular trick for creating the illusion of brightness and spaciousness. 

Frankly, I’d advise against going overboard with huge mirrors (particularly full walls of them) – unless you have a dance studio or exercise room in your basement. Otherwise, keep it simple with tasteful, decorative mirrors.

9. Bring In Greenery

Plants can freshen stale air and bring life into any space. Obviously, you’ll want to consider types of plants that thrive with little light. Artificial plants are great, too – even if they’re not providing oxygen to your basement, they can visually provide a sense of freshness and life.

10. Choose Light Colored Furniture

Again, opt for light colors over dark. If you aren’t in a place to buy new furniture, consider lighter colored furniture covers – they’re inexpensive and you can throw them into the washing machine as needed.

11. Hang Cheery Artwork

If you’ve gotten this far, you might be planning on painting everything white and bringing in lots of light colored materials. But it doesn’t need to be a completely neutral, sterile looking space! 

A little bit of color can go a long way in brightening up a windowless basement. Look for cheerful art pieces in your favorite colors to help brighten it up.

12. Paint Doors and Trim 

When it comes to freshening up doors and trim, white is a popular choice. These four white trim colors are the most popular options from Sherwin Williams. You could also paint them the same as your walls and ceilings to keep things simple. 

13. Paint Shelving and/or Cabinets 

Again, go with white or whatever light color you chose for the walls (to help them blend in, creating the illusion of extra space). 

dark basement entertainment area with painted cabinets

14. Utilize Backlighting

Bring in even more light in the form of backlighting. Consider adding screens, artwork, or even artificial windows, lighting them up from behind. 

15. Install Artificial Skylights

Obviously, you can’t have a true skylight in a basement. However, consider installing a fake skylight to bring in simulated natural light. This involves hanging and wiring a LED light panel that’s framed to look like a real window.

16. Install Artificial Light Wells

Install light wells that funnel natural light from above into the basement. Basically, you’ll need to dig a trench next to the basement wall to allow a window to be created, thus filtering light into the basement. 

17. Choose Paint With a Sheen

While white and light paint colors can really help to brighten up a dark, windowless basement, a little bit of shine can further add to the illusion. Consider a satin or semi-gloss finish for the walls and ceiling, and perhaps gloss for the doors and trim.

18. Light Up Artwork

Put the spotlight on your artwork – literally. You can buy inexpensive picture lights to mount just above the art, highlighting the piece while adding an extra layer of light to your basement. 

19. Add Cove Lighting

Install cove lighting around the perimeter of the room for a soft, ambient glow. 

Cove lighting is simply a lighting technique that directs light up toward the ceiling or down the wall from a ledge or a recess in the wall or ceiling. Because the lights themselves are concealed, this is a sleek, unobtrusive way to add another layer of light to the room.

bluish cove lighting in a dark basement

20. Declutter and Organize

Too much clutter can make a small space feel even smaller, and it can make a dark room seem darker. 

Decluttering and organizing may be a lot of work up front, but it can really go a long way toward brightening up a dark basement. Plus, having a clutter-free space can really reduce the amount of time you have to spend cleaning, so that’s a win-win in my book!

Final Thoughts on Lightening Up a Basement With No Windows

And there you have it! Twenty simple tricks to brighten up a basement without windows. Which of these ideas do you think will have the biggest impact when it comes to transforming your dungeon into a livable space? 

Read More: 

13 of the Best Paint Colors for Small Bathrooms Without Windows

Best Paint Colors for a Dark Hallway: 11 Non-White Options

What Colors Make the Room Look Bigger? 10 Great Options

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