A question that I am often asked is about how to best update a home on a budget. I think that one of the most important things you can do to refresh your space is to maximize the natural light. And as we move toward cooler months and shorter, darker days, I think it’s even more important to fill our homes with as much light as possible. It is easy to add light if you are tearing down walls or adding skylights, but even without remodeling you can create a light airy space. Today I am sharing five ways to inexpensively maximize natural light.
Use Mirrors to Reflect Light
Strategically place your mirrors to reflect the natural light that you do get in a space. Depending on the room, this could be on either an adjacent or opposite wall.
In this dining room I placed a mirror to reflect the light from the gorgeous capiz chandelier. It has the effect of brightening and expanding the room.
Simple furniture and an oversized mirror emphasize the light in this sun-filled space. The mirror reflects the sunny windows creating the illusion of an even brighter room.
In this windowless butlers pantry, a paneled mirror opposite the open door reflects light from the kitchen and gives the illusion of a light-filled window.
Consider How your Paint Color Captures Light and Shadow
A space filled with natural light looks even bigger and brighter painted white. White creates a beautiful fresh space that emphasizes the light. However, in a low lit space, white paint can emphasize shadows for an overall dull feeling room. Choosing a light gray or taupe can disguise the shadows. Or consider a dark dramatic color that embraces the low light for a warm cozy vibe.
In the butler’s pantry of this beautiful deVOL kitchen, there is only one natural light source. Shadowy corners would be emphasized by white paint, but this pretty gray absorbs the shadows. You only notice the light that does come in, not the spaces without.
This entry feels airy despite the low light. With the walls painted black, the white trim and pastel door stand out and the space feels bright.
Keep Window Treatments Light and Airy
Heavy window treatments can block natural light and feel oppressive. In my designs I often choose airy white linen drapes instead. Try hanging the drapes above the window several inches to create the illusion of a larger window and maximize the amount of light coming in. A good rule of thumb is at least 2/3 the distance between the window and the ceiling. But sometimes you have to make exceptions to maximize the light in the space. For example, in my Las Palmas Project dining room (pictured below), I took the drapery to the ceiling, since the distance between the ceiling and the arch of the window was shorter. It’s also important to push your drapers the the edge of the window to allow the greatest amount of light to come in and make the windows look bigger.
Upgrade to Transparent Doors
Solid entry doors block all natural light. Consider a glass door instead. I am loving steel-framed glass doors lately. Read about this trend and see more inspirations in Design Trend: Steel Frame Windows and Doors.
When privacy isn’t needed, switching out your solid interior doors for ones using glass can be a beautiful way to add character and natural light. Unique bifolding doors in my San Clemente Beach House allows light to flood in to the living room from the attached nook. In the kitchen below glass panes and transom windows bring light from butlers pantry into the kitchen. So pretty.
Move your Furniture
Make sure your furniture is not keeping the sunlight from filtering through to the room. Try not to block the light from the windows. Play with your arrangement until you have one that flows while maximizing the amount of light flooding the room. If possible use your furniture to frame your windows or prevent it from covering parts of your windows.
I hope you have enjoyed viewing this ideas for maximizing natural light. By emphasizing the natural light in your homes, you will enhance your spaces, making them feel more crisp, open and updated. To see more of our Q+A series visit here. Have a wonderful Wednesday.