We’ve all heard about the wonders of natural light: It improves your mood, regulates melatonin, saves money on the electric bills, etc. So if you’re living in the far corners of a dark and stuffy building, or reside in a space facing north from the sun, you might be yearning for ways to increase the levels of natural sunlight in your home.
Unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do to create more sun. But there are a few tricks that you can employ to maximize what’s coming your way. Here are some ways to open up your space and let that natural light linger throughout the year.
Make Way for the Windows
This might seem like a bit of a “duh,” but it’s an important reminder: use those windows!. Many of us keep them shut, ignored or cluttered rather than maximizing their use. Clear out the windowsill and anything around it, slide open those glass panes and let your window literally bring fresh air and light into your space. You’ll be surprised at how refreshing it is, not only for you but also for the room itself. Windows are the lungs that breathe life into the interior, so structure the space around it to make it clean and open. This will give the sunlight a welcoming entryway into your home.
Declutter the Space
In order to maximize the sunlight we have, we need it to help it to go as deep into a room as it can. Think about reorganizing the furniture in the room so nothing is obstructing the light beams passing through. It’s best to keep large sofas, chairs, tables and television sets off to the side so that the space is wide open and gives light the opportunity to reflect and refract. If you prefer a little plant life on your windowsill, go for it, but stick to options that stay short or thin.
Another option to think about is light-friendly furniture, like floating shelves, glass tabletops or translucent furniture pieces that help light pass through. Glass tabletops also work.
Use the Mirror Effect
Placing a mirror adjacent to or across a sunny window can maximize the effects of the light coming in. Not only do mirrors give the illusion of more windows, but they also refract natural light beams all throughout the room. If you want to go the extra mile, track the beam of light your mirror is reflecting, and add an additional mirror to further bounce that refractory glory.
Lighten the Window Treatments
In the case of natural sunlight, heavy fabric curtains are doing you more harm than good. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have window treatments. Try going for a lighter, airier option like linen or cotton. Find cool, neutral colors and use single drape treatments to help soften the afternoon glow. Venetian blinds are also a good option if you want a little more control over the direction of the light.
Use Soft or Neutral Color Palettes
It may sound like an old wives’ tale, but painting your walls—and even your ceiling—with soft, near-white matte colors can boost the effect of a brighter interior. Soft color surfaces bounce light around the room, which will keep your natural light levels working for you as long as they can during the day.
This doesn’t mean the whole room has to be whitewashed, though. A good way to add a little definition to the panoramic view is to blend hints of dark colors here and there for character; a contrasting black double French door or darker elements in your furniture will add richness and balance.
Add a Few…Well, Lights
I know, I know—we’re here to talk about natural light. But hear me out: As the day wears on, you won’t be able to rely solely on sunlight anymore as it will eventually begin to wane. Rather than prematurely switching every light in the house on, though, adding just one or two indirect lamp options can add a little buffer to the depleting light. Floor lamps like the Ricca Design Liberty LED Floor Lamp or the Artemide Cadmo LED Floor Lamp (shown above) can add a light wash against the walls and the ceiling, keeping the electricity running low until you need it most.
I know it can be difficult to enjoy the effects of the sun if you live in particularly gloomy weather year-round. But by enhancing what you have with these six easy tips you’ll be able to bring new life to old spaces without much hassle. And one final tip: Be sure to keep those windows clean!