Natural daylight is essential to our health. However, working in offices and spending free time indoors means that the number of people who lack vitamin D is on the up. If you’re sick of living in a dark and dingy home that never feels bright, even on the sunniest of days, read on.
There are plenty of ways to bounce, reflect and generally let in more light into your home, from simple adjustments to major architectural projects. Even thoughtfully placed objects can make a surprising difference. With a little ingenuity and these useful tips, you can be bathing in sunlight all year round.
Increase the Natural Light in Your Home
Build a Conservatory
The ultimate way to bring the outside inside is to build a fabulous conservatory. Developed by the Victorians to grow exotic plants and fruit brought in from around the Empire, conservatories are glazed structures that really make the most of the sun’s rays.
More affordable than an extension and the best way to bridge the gap between your garden and your home, they are an investment in both your property and your wellbeing. Imagine being able to dine almost al fresco with your family whilst bathing in crisp Autumn sunshine. It’s just not possible with any other structure.
Lighter Colours Reflect More Light
Although it’s fashionable at the moment to paint the interiors of your home in muted, matte colours, they are terrible at reflecting light. Certain colours reflect more light than others. As a general rule, the lighter the colour, the more reflective it is. Brilliant white is the obvious choice, but if you’re not into the colour of freshly-fallen snow, there are still hundreds of tones to choose from.
Yellows and the lighter hues of colours such as green and blue can help to bounce natural light around within your home. A white accent wall can work to brighten up a dark room, even if there isn’t much natural light filtering in. Lighter paints are a cheap, effective and sure-fire way to lighten the whole building.
Cut Out the Curtains
Heavy velvet curtains are brilliant in the dead of winter when we want to trap in heat, but they’re also fantastic at keeping out the bright sunshine that builds serotonin levels and helps to keep away the blues. Consider replacing your heavy curtains with sheer drapes that let in that precious light.
Net curtains aren’t just for your grandmother, they’re excellent for allowing in light while giving you privacy. Available in a wide range of styles and densities, including some lovely contemporary finishes, you don’t have to settle for frilly net flowers to keep your vitamin D levels topped up.
How to Hang Curtains for Maximum Light
It’s not always possible to change your curtains for nets if want to make the most of your heating system at home. In order to get the most out of your windows, try re-hanging your curtains so they sit outside the window frame itself. If your curtains still fall in front of your window when they are pulled open, you’re never going to make the most of a sunny day.
The best way to ensure your curtains can be opened as widely as possible is to change your curtain tracks for a curtain rod. Curtain rods are fixed above the window opening, allow you to spread the curtains much more widely, for maximum light entry. They’re simple and can be very stylish with the right finials.
Mirrors, Mirrors, Mirrors
Mirrors are the obvious choice for bouncing light around your home. Natural light is incredibly good for you and is a lot cheaper and more environmentally friendly than switching on bulbs and using electricity. Investing in large mirrors for you home will improve the light levels during the day and night. They’ll also give you plenty of places to check how you look before you head out the door!
Mirror Placement Tips
You could have hundreds of mirrors in your home and still not fill it with light. Poor placement can leave your hone feeling empty and cavernous, instead of flooded with warm, natural rays of sunshine.
Mirrors placed directly opposite light sources can be blinding, so try to place them close by at an angle to catch light without reflecting it into your eyes.
A mirror placed at eye-level across from a window or door is a great way to reflect light into and out of a room, with the added benefit of making the room feel bigger as well. Avoid using lots of small mirrors as they only reflect a certain amount of light. Generally, the larger the mirror, the more light will flood into the room.
If a large mirror is not possible, you can try to recreate the effect by grouping smaller ones together to make a feature on a wall. Their combined reflective properties can make a big difference to the light levels in the room, and done skilfully, make them a stylish focal point in the room.
This might not work for every property, but if you have a single storey extension or anywhere that reaches to the roof internally, you could consider a skylight. It’s possible to illuminate your home using one of these “light wells” to increase daylight all year round. They can also make a room feel bigger and provide ventilation in the summer.
A skylight is a big investment to make in your home and is a relatively easy job for an experienced builder or roofing company. If you aren’t afraid of heights and have the correct knowledge, it can even be a project that’s suited to the more adventurous DIYer. Roof windows by companies like Velux come as kits and are self-supporting, so if your roof is solid you might be able to keep costs low by doing it yourself.
Artwork for Extra Light
A much less involved way to reflect light around a room if you don’t want to hang mirrors, is with large, framed artwork. The glazed surface will protect your favourite painting while also reflecting light from windows or lighting. You could even choose artwork with a shiny or metallic surface to double down on its reflective properties. Increasing the light levels with multiple glass surfaces in your home is a subtle way to make it feel lighter and larger.
Glass Bricks for Internal Walls
Walls are brilliant things. They hold up the roof and divide your home into rooms, so you don’t have to sleep with the washing machine. They’re not so great at letting in the light though. If you want to create an internal space that allows for separation, but doesn’t stop the sunshine, try a glass brick wall.
Available in hundreds of colours, textures and sizes, they can obscure the view through them well enough for privacy while still allowing for maximum natural light penetration. Used skilfully, they are a stylish and practical addition to any home.
Many homeowners are embracing the idea that space and flow are two of the most important factors in their home. Older, period properties have small rooms and even smaller windows, but now we can experiment with large open spaces due to modern building materials and techniques.
Bifold doors are the contemporary version of French or sliding doors when it comes to letting huge amounts of light into your home. Large glazed doors slide along a track and fold up like a concertina at the ends, meaning that you can open up an entire side of your home to the world outside. Perfect for barbecues and summer parties, even with the doors closed the light levels will be high.
Glazed Internal Doors
Windows aren’t just for the outside of your home. Strategically placed windows inside can allow light to make it into the darkest hallways and lighten the mood considerably. But rather than knocking big holes in your walls to accommodate windows, why not simply replace your internal doors with glazed ones?
Glazed doors can be found in enough styles to fit any home décor. From traditional oak four-panel doors to sleek and industrial-looking metal frames, the glass lets in plenty of natural light and can be manufactured to fit any door frame size.
Do Gloss Over the Issue
Painting your house is the easiest and most affordable way to transform you living space into a reflection of your personality and style. But don’t let your love of flat colours dampen what could be a bright and sunny home.
Using gloss paints, especially on the ceiling, is a brilliant way to bounce the light from your windows around the room. The reflective properties of gloss paints apply even for darker colours. You don’t have to coat the entire space in gloss either – try using it as an accent to lighten the room and wow your visitors.
Can You See the Garden Behind Those Trees?
Your garden should be a sanctuary, a place to escape from the world and enjoy the beauty of nature. All while still being in close proximity to the home comforts of a kettle and a well-stocked fridge, of course. Sadly, cherished green spaces can quickly grow out of control without proper care and attention.
When bushes and trees grow too large, they can block the sun’s natural light and heat from reaching your home, making it dark and chilly no matter what the weather is like outside. It’s an easy fix to get out your secateurs and trim your bushes back to a manageable shape, but the difference it can make is immediate.
Create Your Own “Natural” Daylight
If you are stuck with a room that natural daylight can’t reach, no matter what tricks you try with mirrors and paint, you can solve the problem with technology. Full spectrum lightbulbs produce light across the visible and invisible spectrum and are the most effective way to recreate natural daylight inside your home.
Not limited to traditional bulb shapes, full spectrum lights are available as strips, which can be used to light entire sections of a dingy room. Favoured by photographers and artists because of their ability to make dull spaces come alive, you too could make a cloudy winter’s day feel like midsummer.
Wash Your Windows
Probably the lowest-tech solution to dull light in your home is tackling dirty, streaky windows. You might not realise it, but unless your windows are cleaned regularly, they become less able to let the light in. If you want to clean them yourself, mix up a spray bottle of equal parts water and vinegar and spray on the windows. Clean them off with a microfibre cloth and enjoy increased light levels immediately.
Failing that, you could employ a window cleaning service to wash your windows on a scheduled basis. The results might surprise you.
If your windows are being cleaned regularly and the light still isn’t getting through, try cleaning the inside of them as well. Dust and dirt particles fly around and cling to windows, so make sure to tackle both sides.
This last solution is something you might expect from science fiction rather than your interior designer. Solar tubes work in the same way as skylights, but you don’t need to have direct access to the roof. Tubes filled with clever reflective surfaces can be twisted and fed through spaces in your roof up to six metres away to let natural light into places you just couldn’t imagine it reaching.
Think of them as pipes that carry light, rather than water or air. Connected to a small skylight in your roof, the flexible tube runs through the roof cavity or walls into whatever room is dark and dingy. Even basement rooms can come alive with light with such an innovative solution
Natural Light for Health and Happiness
We’ve discussed sixteen different ways that you can increase the natural light levels in your home, from big architectural projects that involve knocking down walls and smashing holes in your roof, to simple things like cleaning your windows or swapping matt paints for gloss. No matter what type of home you live in or how big your budget is, you can make a huge difference to your living space with natural light just by making a few simple changes.