southernt

My house is too dark

Tyna
7 years ago
We bought a beautiful Victorian in the country we're remodeling. The problem is the between the 100 year old Oaks and Pecans plus all the dark trim in the house and the dark paneling in the great room there is never any light. I've thought about painting all the wood white but my husband is not found of painting Walnut. Also anything I put on the built in shelf except for the color white blends in and disappears against it. The pictures show just how dark my house is. They were taken at noon. And this is with exterior french doors in every room. The great room has 3 sets and a floor to ceiling picture window. HELP

Comments (42)

  • Rina
    7 years ago
    I like Daedal Design's advice. If you leave the bookcase as is, you can still lighten it by putting in some larger and lighter -- or light-reflecting -- items (including light-covered books).

    The portrait is from:

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/37834113/watercolor-portrait-painting-girl?ref=sr_gallery_36&ga_search_query=portrait+art&ga_ship_to=ZZ&ga_ref=auto7&ga_page=2&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery

    The plate above it is also from etsy.com. The pewter vast is from:

    http://ancientpoint.com/inf/93573-archibald_knox_liberty__co___art_nouveau_tudric_pewter_vase_tudric_0971.html

    If you do lighten the backs of the shelves, I still like the idea of art in that central large space. It makes a wonderful focus point.
    Tyna thanked Rina
  • Tyna
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    Thank you for all the info. We plan on pulling out the carpet in that room and replace it with hardwood. I thought I would add a 10x8 cream colored rug. I was thinking of having the built in shelf stripped and stained a lighter color and stain the fireplace mantle across from it the same color. With the walls Walnut would a honey color be best?
  • decoenthusiaste
    7 years ago
    You've received some great suggestions. Is there any small room where hubby might allow painting the paneling? Perhaps a back entry hall or a small bath. I think once he sees it he might not be so set against it. And you don't have to go for white - cream, gray, gray/blue can be pretty.
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    Tyna thanked decoenthusiaste
  • Tyna
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    Yes I painted the upstairs bathroom bead board and decorated it Nantucket Beach style. It looks amazing and is bright and airy. Rena I actually had a beautiful Thomas Kinkaid picture there over the holidays. I am looking for a picture to put in there year round. This picture was taken the first of the year when I was trying to put it together after taking the holiday decor down. All my stiff is that I moved with is to dark. But it does look a little better I've added a few white elements but still doesn't seem right to me.
  • Tyna
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    Deco enthusiasts I really saw that great room from the beginning as something out of better homes and garden with the paneling painted a cream color and really dark handscraped wood floors
  • The big house
    7 years ago
    Great suggestions all. Such a temptation to paint that woodwork. However, as someone who had to strip tons of paint to get back beautiful mahogany woodwork in a Victorian kitchen...please don't paint. Try hanging mirrors opposite windows to double the light.
    Light carpets will make a world of difference.
    Use lots of lighting in the room.....floor and table lamps up lights behind large plants. Sconces and mirrors on the fireplace wall. Full light colored draperies...white, almond, yellow or even ice blue.
    Cover several books with light colored paper book covers made from wallpaper. Add chunky clear glass hurricane lamps and thick glass vases. Touches of silver will brighten dark corners of bookcases.
    Have fun. Victorian houses can handle all different styles with fantastic results.
    Tyna thanked The big house
  • PRO
    Jeffrey Brooks Interior Design
    7 years ago
    Hi, I'm a little late to the party but thought you'd be interested in another idea. Install antiqued mirror panels in each of the recessed panels along the wall. Leaved everything else as is.
    Tyna thanked Jeffrey Brooks Interior Design
  • PRO
    DSC DesignWorks
    7 years ago
    DAEDAL DESIGN has some great suggestions. I really like the idea of replacing the carpet and adding more and better lights. I think warm drapes would also help out a lot as well. Also I would add some lighter (and perhaps bigger) artwork pieces on the walls and in the bookcase.
    Tyna thanked DSC DesignWorks
  • decoenthusiaste
    7 years ago
    Don't forget strategically papering the wall recesses in some areas.
    Tyna thanked decoenthusiaste
  • apple_pie_order
    7 years ago
    You can put paper or painted foamcore in the back of the bookcases (lots of this on HOuzz discussions). You can also staple fabric over dark panelled walls. Staples will leave tiny holes in the molding, so think about that for a while.

    Change the light bulbs to brightest allowed in the sockets. Try LEDs. That's easy.

    White carpet will help. Make sure it is easily cleaned. Dark hardwood floors would simply add to the darkness. Amber-tone oak flooring would be much lighter. White area rugs over golden oak flooring would be very attractive.


    Get an arborist out to talk about tree pruning at the right time of year. Sometimes trees have been unpruned and neglected for years before someone sells the property. It is not always wrong to prune 100 year old trees, especially those that may have branches dangling over the house, if you have expert advice.

    If there are dark fences outside that can be seen from the windows, consider painting them a light tan or off white to reflect light back into the house.
    Tyna thanked apple_pie_order
  • Tyna
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    Carpet is being replaced with hardwood. Afraid to do wall to wall carpeting in a light color living in the country with pets and kids but thought I'd put a light 10x8 area rug under the furniture.
  • apple_pie_order
    7 years ago
    Pets and kids? forget white carpet! Sorry, I didn't realize. How about a light Oriental with lots of muted colors that won't show much dirt?
    Tyna thanked apple_pie_order
  • PRO
    ASVInteriors
    7 years ago
    Everything I was going to suggest has been suggested. You have a great range of ideas here. Personally I hate to see an original Victorian house have its wood panelling painted. The nature of Victorian houses was precisely to hide light. If you do anything follow the various suggestions by disguising the panels in such a way you can change your mind at a later date... Other tips: as many reflective surfaces, install or add as many lights as you can, furnish the rooms with cream and light coloured fabrics and furnishings https://www.houzz.com/photos/victorian-interior-traditional-staircase-portland-phvw-vp~1615648
    Tyna thanked ASVInteriors
  • PRO
    flair lighting
    7 years ago
    Please see in my idea book the custom lit bookcase we did this would be great for you
    Tyna thanked flair lighting
  • Tyna
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago
    ASV interiors I love that red tones in that paneling unfortunately mine is a very drab Brown and had seen Better days. How hard is it to restain my paneling can i do it with just a light sanding? With just a light sanding can i use dark mahogany or cherry stain or do I need to strip completely if i'm changing color. It is a brown Walnut and is way too brown for my taste.
  • Tyna
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    Flair lighting I will check it out thank you.
  • doglaska
    7 years ago
    I have a home with a high vaulted ceiling which gets minimal natural light and is very gloomy. We had two solar tubes installed in our roof which brings in lots of sun and natural light from outside. The cost was $1,800 for two and the difference is amazing!
    Tyna thanked doglaska
  • Beth Bevington
    7 years ago
    I love my solar tubes. We have two and have enjoyed seeing the light for 8 years
    Tyna thanked Beth Bevington
  • Tyna
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    Thank you wad not aware of that I'll have to look into it. Can they be put on a first floor?
  • PRO
    Shoa Gallery
    7 years ago
    Solar tubes only work on the top floors. I was going to suggest sky lights (even better than solar tubes), then I read you talking about the "upstairs"...

    As everyone has mentioned, don't paint over the gem you purchased.

    Go light with everything else: artwork, furniture, rug, etc. Yes, they'll get dirty with kids and pets, but you can buy materials that are easily cleaned until the kids grow up.

    Combine with lots of mirrors and additional lighting.

    It may not turn out as bright as it would if you painted white, but it'll be a great improvement.

    Post photos of your progress. These older homes are hard to find, and it's always interesting to see how people preserve them.
    Tyna thanked Shoa Gallery
  • mefor
    7 years ago
    Hi, I have a solar tube that comes down two stories to my first (ground) floor. Comes down through the attic, through a chase on the second floor, to what was once a black hole, otherwise known as my butlers pantry. The light I get from it is absolutely wonderful. :)
    Tyna thanked mefor
  • mefor
    7 years ago
    You can picture a black box as the before and these as the afters. Lots and lots of light. I am a huge fan of solar tubes
  • mefor
    7 years ago
    If you click on image, you can see the solar tube and the overhead light fixture, which is not turned on :))
  • Tyna
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago
    That would be prefect. I talked to my husband he is a realtor and he said he's seen them in houses he's shown and had been wanting to learn more about them. Thank you again everyone for your help. I've known all along how I want to remodel and decorate just had no clue how I was going to make it lighter in here. I love my old trees and would hate to have to remove anything although don't think it will help to much because the whole neighborhood used to be a pecan farm back in the day so it is a heavily treed area which is why I love it so much but add a house filled with dark wood and you have a challenge. :-)
  • mefor
    7 years ago
    I hope you'll post some before/after pics for us when the project is done, this should be a really good one :))
  • Tyna
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    I definitely will.
  • jengregory
    7 years ago
    I know I'm late to this discussion, but I look forward to seeing the progression of change. This house seems like a gem and I'm glad it has the right owners to love it :)
    Tyna thanked jengregory
  • Rina
    7 years ago
    I've slept through all the above, but really enjoyed reading it. Great discussion.
    Tyna thanked Rina
  • PRO
    Shoa Gallery
    7 years ago
    mforr, I used at solar tubes years ago and they wouldn't do two story homes. They've come a long way.
  • mefor
    7 years ago
    They really have, KShoa, it's a real blessing for places that just don't get any light. It will make such a difference to see all that rich panelling with light in the room, will be warm and wonderful as opposed to dark and murky. When we did renovations I was surprised to realize that even with all the others things done, something as simple as this reflective tube could end up being one of my favorite things.
  • PRO
    Shoa Gallery
    7 years ago
    I think they've also improved the "blue" light problem by changing up the color of the internal mirrors. The light used to be so blue it cast a gray tone on everything. Thanks for the info! Good to know, definitely.

    (meant to say "looked at" instead of "used at" - brain not connected to fingers all the time :) )
  • mefor
    7 years ago
    I know what you mean, thank goodness I usually proofread what I've written, I don't know what the heck my fingers are typing most of the time, they might be possessed :)
  • joey_o
    7 years ago
    Wouldn't a solar tube conflict with the "preservation" of her Victorian home? I'd much rather see white painted paneling in some of the rooms instead of a solar tube.
  • mefor
    7 years ago
    I don't think it conflicts at all. My house is over 220 years old and it works. It's less of a drastic change than painting her antique paneling :)
  • Rina
    7 years ago
    Consider what it would take to reverse the change. Not too much, with a solar tube. Lots of hard-labour work to remove the paint.
  • doglaska
    7 years ago
    Lee Valley have a new product; LED Tape Lighting -- these energy efficient lights are ultra thin, flexible and compact, yet they deliver bright light. Worth checking out.
    Tyna thanked doglaska
  • PRO
    Solarise Tube Skylights
    6 years ago
    Check out Sun Glo. Its a new low profile solar tube with a square roof flashing. Blends in alot better than bubble tubes. www.solarisetubeskylights.com

    I have attached a couple pictures that had dark backgrounds and walls.
  • Everett Pena
    6 years ago
    You have children so you have to be practical with how everything comes together.

    1: use light color hardwood floors (I put a picture for you to see) and ceilings. The light floor is a hot thing and I have done it in a house where she had 5 kids. She used area rugs with light blue and green tones. Really pretty. It will allow you to use medium tone furniture so the kids won't ruin them.

    However, I would not paint the ceilings until you try these other ideas...

    2: use mirrors to bounce light coming in from the windows. You have to place them adjacent to the window wall.

    3: the bookshelf idea is a great one to which them to glass and use spot lights at the top.

    4: use large art pieces with lighter tones

    5: add drapes...those you can go light with as the kids won't touch those much.

    6: lamps, accessories with shine material will help bounce light off too

    7: types of light bulbs, add light fixtures with more light bulbs. DONT do the solar tubes!!! It is not the style if the house! It will ruin it.

    The color of the woodwork is very rich and beautiful...making it honey will make it country. I would not go this route! Plus it is out of style. I buy these type of houses all the time and fixing them up for resale. It is all about balance with a 3D composition. Furniture will be a big key. Here are some ideas to help out...
  • mossbaybotanicals
    6 years ago
    Don't be afraid of white carpets and furniture! I've lived with white for 30 years with kids and pets and this is the only color you can bleach. Soft scrub with bleach and a brush works miracles in heavily soiled areas and upholstery.
  • Lila
    6 years ago
    I bought a heritage cottage several years ago that had wood walls, ceiling and floor. At first I thought it was a beautiful piece of history. After a while I realized that the lack of light was actually making me suffer depression but hated to destroy the old wood by painting. I finally did paint almost everything white and my life changed for the better. Just saying.....
  • Leah Schroeder
    6 years ago

    Dome lights may be the answer.We had a dark hallway , put in the dome light and it made all the difference in the world.I don`t care for sky lights , they don`t wear well. The dome light catches the natural light , and now have them where they can be moved in different directions or closed off completely. I loved the dome light thinking of having one installed in my present home . Would n`t change the wood , it`s a lost art anymore, part of the charm of the home, Just have a dome light installed.