Brightening north-facing rooms

Poor natural light can leave a living room feeling cold and unwelcoming. A few key changes will help to lift the mood of the room and your spirits too.

Design dilemma:

"I'm renting a flat with an north-facing living room which is very dark. I adore sunshine and I try to brighten the room with huge bunches of nice spring flowers but to be honest, I'm quite unsuccessful!

Unfortunately my colour and decorating options are limited as my landlord won't allow big reconstructions. The living room is open plan and the kitchen cupboards are painted a dark pink colour. Any ideas on how to make it look more sunny?"

Design solution:

The fact that your living space is open plan and your kitchen cupboards are dark pink leaves you somewhat limited when it comes to colour scheming, but that shouldn't stop you from creating a warm and welcoming room.

Most people turn to yellow to cheer up a north-facing room, but if you don't get the shade just right, it can look a little harsh and grey in cold light. In keeping with your units, opt for a warm pink instead.

As you can't do any major renovations, paint one or two walls in a fresh tea rose pink and keep the rest of the room white, including ceiling, woodwork and remaining walls. The combination of the white and pink will give a fresh, airy look to your previously gloomy room.

Dark rooms require clever window dressings that maximise any light that filters into the room, so opt for a white voile roman blind that brightens up your window and still allows for privacy.

You're probably restricted when it comes to flooring, so if your present floor covering is too dark, give it a little light relief with comfortable wool or sheepskin cream rugs. If you're buying any furniture, stick to light beech or clean white to add to this airy look.

Pattern makes an instant homely impact in a room, so in keeping with the pink walls, invest in some bright pink floral or deckchair-striped cushions and throws. Personalise your room too, by adding blown up arty photographs of your favourite places, pets or loved ones.

Finally, reflect more light into the room by investing in an oversized dramatic mirror placed above the fireplace if you have one, or on a wall to form a focal point.