The sun will come out tomorrow—but you may not notice if your home blocks out all the light
A lack of natural light is a common problem in both older and modern spaces. Cavernous rooms that leave us grouchy, sleepy, and unfocused in the winter also mean we're turning on every light bulb to make up for the lack of sunshine.
Let the sunshine in to save energy, money, and even some vitamin D with these home projects.
1. Fill the Room With Reflective Materials
One of the easiest ways to brighten up a space with natural light is to reflect what's already there. Hang a mirror on the wall, a bookshelf, or a mantelpiece directly across from the main window.
Don't discount the small reflective touches that send light bouncing around the room, either. These may include:
Silver or gold picture frames
Reflective lamp bases
Reflective furniture (think coffee tables and side tables)
2. Wash Your Windows
When's the last time you gave your windows a good wash? While it's one thing to break out the window cleaner and paper towels for the windows at eye level, you may need to hire a professional for hard-to-reach spots. Hiring a professional window cleaner is best when you require a ladder or extensive materials to get through tough grime.
3. Rearrange the Furniture
Dark and thick furniture can steal the light from your home if it's placed too close to the windows. If you have the couch backed up against the only source of natural light, move it a few feet away into the room to get full light throughout the day.
4. Opt for Lighter Paint Colors
You've likely heard that white paint is best for small spaces, but you don’t have to stick with this blank canvas look. Your walls play the largest role in reflecting or absorbing natural light in your room, so choose lighter colors to make it look more spacious and bright.
Paints have what's known as a Light Reflective Value, or an LVR. The higher the percentage—for colors similar to white—the better it reflects light. You can also choose glossier paints in low-light rooms to act as a sort of mirror from floor to ceiling. Go with a satin or semi-gloss paint if you don't like the look of a high-gloss option.
5. Alter Your Exterior
Did you know the color of your eaves play a role in indoor lighting as well? When the sun hits the eaves or soffits just outside your windows, the white paint can send the sun shining into your home. Not only will this brighten your spirits, but it can also help you save money on heating bills in the chilly months.
6. Consider Your Kitchen Options
If you're embarking on a kitchen redesign and the room is particularly low on windows, consider a few light-reflecting upgrades.
For example, glass backsplashes act like small mirrors without having to add the real thing. Opt for white and reflective materials on your kitchen counters and cabinets as well. This is a great opportunity to consider white marble, granite, or quartz. Even stainless steel appliances play a role in brightening up a dark kitchen.
7. Choose the Right Window Treatments
If you like to sleep in a cavern fit for a hibernating bear, light-blocking roman shades may be a tempting option. But thick curtains like these can block out necessary daytime light, even when they’re fully opened or pinned back.
Solar shades or thin blinds are best for opening up the window to as much exposure as possible without altering the light color of the room.
8. Incorporate More Windows
Looking for a major renovation project to increase your home's natural light? Well, you have a few options. Adding a window is more costly compared to the majority of projects on the list, but this will definitely let in more light—and it can even increase the value of your home.
For rooms with no wall space to spare, consider adding a skylight, particularly in top-floor rooms like bathrooms and kitchens. Dormer windows—which poke out above your slanted roof—can add light to an attic or top-story bedroom.
You can also reimagine the main doors to your home. Consider adding a sliding patio door at the back of your house, or adding a window around the sides of your front entryway. You can even spring for a fancy French front door.
Call a local window installer for additional guidance. Not only can they replace old windows with poor seals or cracks, but they may also be able to offer options of window varieties that will welcome more sunlight into a shadowy space.