Natural light. Real estate listings tout the abundance of natural light in a home. Décor magazines are filled with advice to infuse your space with natural light. There are many reasons why natural light is considered such a good thing. If you have an abundance of sun-filled windows, you’ll see lower utility bills – most of the year.
Lots of sunlight means less need for artificial light, and helps heat your home in winter. The downside is, you might have a harder time cooling it in summer. Sunlight also helps stimulate the production of vitamin D, which is a natural mood elevator, increases skeletal health, and improves your skin and hormonal functions. Plus, you can’t beat the look of a room with sunlight streaming through it.
So, how do you get the maximum benefits from natural light? Sure, you could just stick a chair by the window, but we’re talking about bringing those benefits into the whole room, and making the most of whatever light you do have. You don’t need floor-to-ceiling windows to make it work, you just need a few simple tricks.
Think pale – lighter colors reflect more light. To make available sunlight go as far as possible, paint your walls a pale color. White is good, but so is light beige, yellow, or even light blue or pink. Just keep the color pale, bright and clear, not “dusty” or muted.
Get reflective – mirrors and glass look great in décor, but they can also help spread the light. Properly placed mirrors will reflect sunlight from the window into corners that would never see daylight. Add a few mirrors in attractive frames to increase the light in your home. Glass may not reflect in the same way as a mirror, but it will help the light that is there sparkle and look brighter.
Windows – use what you have, ditch the heavy drapes and blinds (or at least pull them aside) to let in more light. If privacy is an issue, find sheers that will still allow light to enter while blurring the view. Switch to light-colored drapes to help brighten the window area and raise cornices and top treatments so they don’t block the top of the window.
Outside – trim trees, consider removing awnings, or installing mirrors on your covered porch to help more light reach your windows.
Build it – if it’s an option, consider adding more windows, install a skylight or solar tube to increase the natural light available in your home.
Bright arrangements – consider rearranging your rooms to maximize the natural light. Orient your seating toward windows and glass doors.
While you’re at all this thinking about light, consider the quality of light you get from your windows and doors. The type of light you get can impact what you want to do with your space and how you can best use the light.
- North – north light is usually cold and you’ll only get direct light in mid-summer. To increase the feeling of light in your space, use warm colors like red, yellow and orange; using cooler colors will only make the light appear more gray.
- South – south light is the classic warm and sunny feel. If you have wide-open southern exposure, use cool colors to make the room feel summery all year long.
- East – good morning sunshine! Eastern light means sunny mornings, muted middays and shady afternoons. If it’s your kitchen or breakfast area, use bright colors to increase the sunny feel, anywhere else, opt for balance to keep the room nice all day long.
- West – the golden hour has arrived. Western light is warm, rich and gorgeous, but can overwhelm a room done in warm colors. Opt for neutrals to let the light be the star of the show in the afternoon and still look fresh the rest of the day.