Getting more natural light into a home that doesn’t have much may not sound like an easy or affordable project to take on, but plenty of design tricks have been invented to maximize the brightness of the rays that do make it in.
Putting a few of them together, or as many as you’re able to, will create a much brighter feel throughout your space, improve everyone’s mood and reduce energy costs from lighting, and perhaps heating, all without carving out new windows or skylights.
Here are some of the most effective changes you can make to your décor or surroundings:
- About that shade tree — We know you love its cooling, shadowy effect on a blaring summer day, but think of the tradeoff if you trimmed it back a bit; sunniness throughout the room it affects, especially when you most need it in the winter. A professional arborist will be able to do this in ways that don’t harm the tree or make it look unbalanced.
- A new coat of paint — If you have the time and money for the endeavor, consider a different color or type of paint to reflect the sun, at least in rooms that really don’t get much natural light. Lighter, cooler shades of white or off-white or pale pastels work best here, while anything darker will start to absorb the sunlight. And remember, flat finishes won’t do much to elevate the room’s sunniness, so find the color you want in satin, semi-gloss or high-gloss to get some shine! You can also think about painting the exterior eaves angled toward your house white.
- Decorate with light touch — Whichever color paint and furniture you have, the wall art, pillows, throws, rugs and knickknacks you display will play a part in the overall brightness of a room or home. Sweep out moody night scenes, heavy wooden carvings and navy rugs if you can, no matter how stylish they are or were. Try to replace then with objects with shiny surfaces, and the old mirror trick does work as long as they’re angled to bounce light into the darkest part of the room.
- Lighten window treatments — Dark curtains continue to block and absorb light even if they’re opened up every morning. It’s easier in the end to replace them with gauzy curtains, white shutters or blinds that can be opened wide every morning. Pull-down window shades provide privacy when needed, and shades made from natural materials like bamboo and rattan let some light through even when closed.
- Keep them clean — Don’t forget to clean the exterior-facing side of your windows regularly. They’re exposed to as much dust, soot, rain, snow and other elements as the rest of your exterior so just wiping down the insides isn’t going to do too much. It can take extra effort or some professional help (especially if you have a second floor), but its brightening effect is worth the effort!