Something as simple as airy white curtains can lighten up a Tudor inspired room.

How to Lighten Up English Tudor Decor

by Jan Czech

The English Tudor architectural was a favorite in America from the 1920s through the 1940s. Its hallmarks include dark ceiling beams, and raised paneling better suited to a sixteenth century fortress than a twenty first century family home. The combination of deep jewel tones and heavy, highly embellished furniture and textiles can lend a dreary, cave like mood to every room. However, don’t despair. It is possible to bring your family out of the dimness and into the light without sacrificing your home’s architectural features.


A sure fire way to lighten up the ceiling in your Tudor style home is with a coat of paint. Choose a shade of white, a pastel hue or a neutral such as light gray or beige. For a cohesive look, paint the entire ceiling, beams included, the same color or opt for two different shades, one for the beams and another lighter or darker for the areas in between. Either way, the light hues give the ceiling the appearance of height making the whole room feel brighter.


Traditionally, the floors in a Tudor style home were meant to mimic those of a sixteenth century Tudor castle and are wood stained in a dark shade such as mahogany. Dark floors show every speck of dust and dirt your family tracks in while lighter floors make the inevitable dust bunnies and pet hair tumbleweeds a little less visible. Consider neutral wall to wall carpet. Another way to lighten that dark floor is by painting it. Painted floors are easy to clean and come in any color your choose. Add a coat of polyurethane to protect the floor from wear and tear or, if you prefer a more distressed look, forgo the protective coating and let the floor weather naturally. If the dark floors are to your liking and covering them with carpet or paint are not options, consider area rugs in light hues. Avoid authentic Oriental carpets that require special care opting instead for less expensive versions. The patterns in the rugs will help disguise stains.


Dark wood paneling featuring raised panels or intricate designs is common in Tudor style homes. One way to go to lighten up the walls is by painting the heavy, dark panels. To give the space continuity choose the same colors used on the ceiling or opt for a light hue drawn from an existing piece of art work or upholstery. Choose paint in an eggshell finish that is easy to clean making it perfect for the inevitable finger prints and marks that come naturally with a growing family. If covering paneling isn’t an option, work with the surrounding walls. Choose a light paint shade or wallpaper featuring a bright and airy pattern. Avoid heavy, flocked or floral styles. Steer clear of window treatments featuring draperies in heavy fabrics such as brocade. Opt for lace or sheers coupled with blinds that can be pulled up to let the sun shine in and pulled down in the evening for privacy or consider a more streamlined look with Roman shades or wooden shutters.

Furniture and Accessories

Lighten up upholstered furniture with slipcovers made from cotton or linen that you can pop into the washer. Choose light colors or patterns featuring sunny prints. If you prefer a more formal look, lighten things up with pillows and throws in cheerful colors and patterns. Giving your Tudor home a more cheerful appearance doesn’t mean getting rid of dark antique pieces. Mix them in with lighter furniture. For example, a pair of heavily carved occasional tables will work well flanking a couch covered in upholstery featuring a small print or stripes on a light, neutral background. A bouquet of flowers or a lamp with a floral stained glass shade will brighten things up. A glittering chandelier provides a bright focal point above a darkly stained dining room set.

About the Author

Jan Czech has been writing professionally since 1993. Czech has published seven children's books, including “The Coffee Can Kid," which received a starred review from School Library Journal. She is a certified English/language arts teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts in education from Niagara University.

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