If your home is a gloomier place to live in rather than being bright and cheerful, it can drag the mood of the whole house down. There are radical ways of increasing light in the home such as installing roof lights or knocking walls down, but there are lots of other ways to make your rooms feel brighter which are worth trying before getting the sledgehammer out.
Maximise Natural Light
It sounds obvious, but many of us block out natural light from our homes with blinds, curtains, voile panels or by placing furniture in front of windows. Draw back curtains as fully as you can, ditch the net curtains or venetian blinds, swap heavy, dark coloured curtains for lighter weight ones and move heavy furniture away from the window wherever possible.
Ditch the swags, tails and heavy pelmets, and put up a simple roller or Roman blind instead. If privacy is a concern, think about using net or voile panels which obscure the bottom half of the window pane only, still allowing plenty of natural light in from the top half of the window.
We all know that light colours can make a room feel brighter and dark paints can make things feel cosier and more closed in, so the first thing to think about is painting your dingy room a nice light shade.
When shopping for paint it’s important also to think about the type of finish – a matt paint will suck in the light, but a soft sheen or silk paint will bounce the light off the walls and make the room brighter. There’s a balance to be struck between getting a paint which reflects enough light and paint which is too shiny, so play around with different tester pots until you get a shade and finish which you are comfortable with.
For a deeper look at painting walls, have a look at our comprehensive guide to painting walls.
It might be an interior design classic, but putting a large mirror up in the room will reflect light around. Don’t just choose any old mirror, take your time to find something which you really like and will fit in well with the rest of the design in the room. Position the mirror, where possible, on the wall opposite the window to help reflect the most light.
If you already have a mirror, swap it for a larger one, or buy a mirrored coffee table or sideboard to maximise the reflective effect. Make your mirrors even more effective by putting a lamp or light on a table close to the mirror.
Clean the Windows
When was the last time you cleaned the windows? It’s amazing how quickly the grime can build up on the outside of the windows, especially if you live on a busy road, or during a period of bad weather. Get into the routine of cleaning the windows at least once a month, or get a window cleaner to call regularly to do the job for you. Remember to clean the inside of the windows as well.
Here’s a great video which shows you how to keep your windows clean yourself:
If all you have to light the room is a central pendant light, then you can make it feel a lot cosier and lighter by buying some additional lights to use around the room. Mix and match different table lamps, tall standard lamps, candles and wall lamps to give you a flexible lighting scheme where you can switch lights on and off when they are needed. Choose light coloured shades where possible, and look out for mirrored or reflective light bases and shades which will help things seem even brighter.
A more radical measure is to install a sun pipe which draws natural light in from outside and bounces it into the room through a series of mirrors. Expect to pay around £1000 for one of these to be installed.
If you have dark carpet, vinyl or tiles on the floor, these can suck the light in too. Think about swapping your flooring for something brighter and lighter in colour, or cover up as much of the dark as you can with a bright rug. Remember that if you are replacing your flooring anyway, look for something slightly reflective to help maximise light, If you already have lots of reflective surfaces on walls, or lots of mirrors around, a shiny floor may be a step too far.