Does anyone have any good ideas for a windowless bedroom?

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I am helping a friend with a room she is renting, but it is quite the dilemma. Everyone refers to this bedroom as "the dungeon" because there are no windows in it whatsoever, thus no natural light. How can I make this a pleasant room to be in and not dark and depressing? I have a few ideas, but really could use some more creative ideas. I do have to say that it is also a smaller bedroom with a king size bed in it, and there is no option of changing the bed to a smaller size. The room is for a single mid 50's woman and her boxer dog who is her baby! The owner stipulates NO holes in the walls. She also says she needs a stand for her TV. We need great ideas on the cheap, such as thrift store finds redone or repurposed to save money as well. Funds are limited for her. Any ideas would be most welcome! Thank you for your help and ideas!
  21 answers
  • Country Design Home Country Design Home on Jun 01, 2016
    Hi Kim- a few pictures would be helpful to get a better idea of what you are working with, especially for the TV stand. Not sure what style of decor you are going with, but obviously lighting is key to brightening up the space. Floor lamps, sconces attached to the headboard, table lamps for side tables will all help with the lack of lighting. One design possibility I would suggest would be to find a couple of old windows, add some lighting behind them and hanging them on the wall to create the illusion of windows...except that would be very difficult if you can't hang anything. I am curious to see what other folks come up with for ideas. This one is tough!
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    • Kim Castagnola Kim Castagnola on Jun 03, 2016
      Sue, it was in asking her for pictures, that I learned some extra details about the room which were alarming! Please see my detailed note further down...you can't miss it! (Sorry, I'm kind of known for my novels!!!)😄
  • Antoinette Magi-Stern Antoinette Magi-Stern on Jun 01, 2016
    Hi Kim I agree with sue about the idea of pictures, but I was thinking about a picture of some kind of landscape and the hang a curtain above it so it appears as if it is a window
  • Lynda Dexter Lynda Dexter on Jun 01, 2016
    I would also try a decorative mirror with a light/lamp in front that reflects the light back into the room
  • Ale3381663 Ale3381663 on Jun 01, 2016
    A bedroom without a window is generally against fire codes. Please make sure she has an escape route planned and light the way! 😇
  • Phyllis Phyllis on Jun 01, 2016
    Oh, I've done this before. Pretend that there is a window there and treat it as such. There are so many possibilities. Good luck!
  • Jud5061044 Jud5061044 on Jun 01, 2016
    Ventilation is needed, or condensation could cause mould problems, which is not only unsightly, but can be harmful to health,
  • Margaret E Margaret E on Jun 01, 2016
    Mirrors and lighting. But I'm not sure how this can be a legal rental without a window in it. I agree with alexandra477 - make sure your friend has a planned escape route with nothing in her way!
  • Jane Jane on Jun 01, 2016
    First find a sturdy dresser for the tv. Like the 5 drawer kind. Tall enough. Buy some big watt light bulbs and that room will light up. Look for a floor lamp and place that next to the bed. You can squeeze them in anywhere. It should work for her.
  • Jemma Dee Jemma Dee on Jun 01, 2016
    Full length door mirrors can be found at discount stores and can be propped up on nightstands. Placing a lamp in front of them will double the light. I also agree that a windowless bedroom violates fire codes.
  • William William on Jun 01, 2016
    How about a "fake" window! You can use mirror squares stuck on a wall made to look like a window. Curtains or drapes on each side, and you have a window that will reflect light in the room.
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    • Kim Castagnola Kim Castagnola on Jun 02, 2016
      Thank you William. The Command strips seem to be the way to go.
  • Shirley4 Shirley4 on Jun 01, 2016
    Wow... she does have a dilemma. You know, we're in the process of fixing our house up to sell, and had to upgrade two of our bedrooms. First, to be a legal bedroom it MUST have two means of egress (exit)... typically a door and a window (or it could be a second door if it's like a jack and jill arrangement with another bedroom). Even the window must meet some minimum size requirements so a person can exit easily with all their skin intact. Anyways... the first ideas that come to mind are out since the landlady stipulates "no holes in the walls". One idea being curtains with lighting behind them (to simulate a window). The other idea someone already mentioned... BIG mirrors on the wall. So... what to do? How about tension rods to hold up a curtain? And then maybe plug-in fairy lights wrapped around the curtain rod (great way to simulate sunlight). And you can get BIG mirrors that lean against the wall. IKEA has an awesome HUGE mirror for $99 that would be perfect. I think the only other thing I would suggest is almost going overboard with the fairy lights (long plug in strands of mini LED lights)... The lighting could impart a little magic to the space... and banish that feeling of "dungeon". DO let us all know what y'all finally decide to do for her and her puppy dog. :-)
    • Kim Castagnola Kim Castagnola on Jun 01, 2016
      Shirley, how would you hang or mount the tension rods to the wall? I think those require a screw or two on each end of the bracket. Can you get those in different lengths/widths to make different sizes, or do they just come in one, but on the small size, adjustable size? Any creative ideas for her four legged child too?! Thank you!
  • Bobbie Littlefield Bobbie Littlefield on Jun 01, 2016
    How about; a thin (and cheap) plywood backboard above and/or between dressers, tables, etc., 2X4's on the sides (front and back) creating a shelving "frame" for support around all the dressers (freebies on CL), secure the 2X4's at the top with L brackets (and of course to the furniture) and make it sturdy. Some dressers, tables, etc., will have shelving above for books, storage baskets, etc. The backboard can hold a home made murals (see online for other murals that create pictures of places which you can put a "window or Picture frame" around, mirrors, and most importantly a "crown" moulding that provides light. Paint everything any colors you like. You can even get a picture of a place, copy it onto overhead projector plastic and place lighting (think led or xmas lights) behind it for light. Use molding on the 2X4's all around and it will look like a built in and provide tons of space, organization, views etc. The great thing about this is: it is a stand alone and you can use any shelf depth you want (up to the depth of the furniture you use). Good luck with your project! If this is a small room, you may want to "loft" your bed as well...
  • Kim Castagnola Kim Castagnola on Jun 01, 2016
    I'm not sure about the fire code situation. The weird thing is, there is an opening, a window type in the room, but it isn't a window into the outside. It's a window 'like' opening to another room, so there's no natural light nor cross breeze AT ALL. They may have gotten around the fire code that way, I'm not sure. All of your ideas are inspiring and thoughtful, and so appreciated. Please keep 'em coming so I can combine several ideas to lighten and brighten her only sense of home right now. Thanks so much!
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    • Kim Castagnola Kim Castagnola on Jun 02, 2016
      Thank you SO MUCH Shirley for finding that information for me! How thoughtful and SO HELPFUL that is!
  • Gail Gail on Jun 01, 2016
    Build a frame for an old window. Mount a picture of an outdoor scene on back of window and hang. For an added touch, install an LED light behind also to give the illusion of daylight.
    • Kim Castagnola Kim Castagnola on Jun 02, 2016
      Gail, what kind of LED light do you mean...a small one that sticks on behind the window frame? What about the hassle of turning the light off and on if it's behind the picture, or would you just leave it on all the time? I might not be understanding you right. Thank you.
  • Phyllis Phyllis on Jun 01, 2016
    I put up a rod and curtain, gathered like Priscilla curtains but not as sissified. Pull back halfway down the side of the window. But something was missing. I bought a window and installed in with brackets. Then I found a picture of a garden looking out a window on-line at Pinterest. I took that to Staples and had the picture blown up the exact size of the window. Spray the back side of the window with adhesive spray and attach the picture of the garden. Place a small table in front of the window. Decorate the surface of the table. You're going to have fun with this one. Let me know how you do.
    • Kim Castagnola Kim Castagnola on Jun 02, 2016
      Phyllis, thank you so much for the extra details on how you did it. It was very helpful. I was wondering how I was going to get a picture large enough to be window size 'affordably,' and Staples printing to enlarge it to the size of the window is a great idea! Thank you. The added details of the little table decorated in front of it is wonderful too. Thank you.
  • Carol Carol on Jun 01, 2016
    This living situation is illegal. The renter is in danger of dying should there be a fire. Please speak to the landlord about needed changes, or find a different place to live. This is serious.
  • Marra Marra on Jun 01, 2016
    It sounds like your friend is at a place in life where she's lucky to have a room to call home with her fur-baby. First off, at least encourage her to talk about a second exit from the room with her landlord. Okay, I'm a big fan of the Command line of Metal Hooks, they'll hold up to 5lbs. A pair of those, along with a 3-4' dowel rod, maybe a little something fancy for the ends ( be creative) and a pair of white sheers for curtains and you have a "window". You could add a touch of whimsy with maybe some white lights strung up and down behind the sheers for a little "star light" and you have a touch of magic to lighten things up. I wish her a life of good things, she already has a great friend!
  • Kathy Bitzan Kathy Bitzan on Jun 02, 2016
    I like marra's idea, someone did that on this site. Looked really great, a sure fix.
  • Yvette Chidester Scott Yvette Chidester Scott on Jun 02, 2016
    You could also place square mirrors in a group of 4 or 6 to mimic a window. Then add drapes to each side like a window. The mirrors will reflect what light there is in there and help give the appearance of a larger space. Trim could be placed between the mirrors for added effect.
  • Kim Castagnola Kim Castagnola on Jun 03, 2016
    Hi Everyone! I'd like to thank all of you for your generous contributions of ideas. MANY of you have mentioned that her living situation is illegal and against fire codes. I indeed posed this to her, and even offered to let her and her dog come stay with me while I helped her find a new place to live so she wouldn't have to spend another night there, in spite of the fact that I've never met her in person, only over the phone, as she is a friend of a friend as I explained before. Well, very upsettingly to me, she REFUSES to leave the situation altogether, in spite of all the dangers I posed to her. I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with her to no avail. I finally got to the point that I had to tell her that I could not help her. She discounted every point I made regarding her safety and the violations the landlords have been making, not only with her, but with PRIOR tenants as well. As facts unfolded, that she finally shared as I asked about the room over the phone while I had the flu, it turns out that the room did not have a smoke detector, the window that was supposed to go into another room, doesn't even open, and all of the electrical in that room is two prong, not three, so she has two different extension cords she's using in the room. The situation just got worse as I spoke to her. What was so frustrating is that she refused to help herself. I finally told her that I could not help her. I refused to help someone decorate a room that was so extremely dangerous, that her life and that of her dog were WAAAY more important than some decorations. I may have been upfront and harsh, but I would rather say something and save her life, than have something happen to her. Ironically, the common friend we have together lost EVERYTHING in a fire several years back and I brought this to her attention, and it had NO EFFECT on her. I was extremely upset for hours, and still am, but I feel comfortable in my decision, and my actions. I even told her that she could probably get all of her past eight months of rent back too, which would come in extremely handy right now in her financial position, and in helping her find a new place, and she just wouldn't listen. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for your kind and thoughtful ideas and comments, and I am so, so sorry that I took up any of your time. Unfortunately, ALL OF US were trying to help her, but she doesn't even want to help herself now even knowing the gravity of the situation. It saddens me so and I feel bad for all of you. Bless all of your hearts for trying to help me help her. All we can do for her and her dog now is to keep them in our prayers. Thank you EVERYONE. You all have hearts of gold! Kim
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    • Kim Castagnola Kim Castagnola on Jun 06, 2016
      Thank you Sue, for your sweet response. Yes, this has been extremely hard on me emotionally as well as physically, when I was trying to help her even while I had the flu, and still am trying to get over. I've had to 'Let go and turn it over to God' and move on. Thank you Sweetie, for all of your caring. Kim
  • Kim Castagnola Kim Castagnola on Jun 03, 2016
    Thank you so much Carol. You know me well! Lol