How to make your house look brighter
Whether your home benefits from huge windows and an abundance of natural light or has forgotten corners aplenty, there is always somewhere that could be a little brighter. Aesthetics aside, how light or dark a room is can have a huge bearing on our mood, mind and wellbeing. If designing a brand-new lighting scheme or knocking down a wall or two sounds a little daunting, there are plenty of simple solutions that can make a real difference too.
Sometimes the quickest fix can be the most effective, which is certainly true when it comes to curtains. Replacing thick, heavy curtains with airy alternatives should be top of your list if you’re looking to brighten your home. A pair of Mediterranean-style shutters in pale wood or a neutral painted finish can also offer plenty of natural light without having to compromise on privacy.
No smoke, lots of mirrors
From improving sleep to boosting vitamin D, the positives of natural light are numerous, so you should always look to make the most of it in your home. This is where mirrors step in. Clever use of mirrors can bounce light around the house, and can be particularly effective for enhancing those long, dark hallways or a flight of stairs. Try a large floor mirror or an opulent feature display of different shapes and sizes, but always place them adjacent to a window or close to a lamp to reap the full benefit.
Embrace open plan
If you’ve got the time, budget and patience, restructuring your interiors can completely transform your house. Removing a separating wall can meld two dim rooms into a brighter open-plan space and create a more welcoming atmosphere. Adding a tactically positioned window, skylight, a set of French doors, or even just replacing wooden doors with glass alternatives can also open up new avenues of light across your home.
Use a mix of lighting
When you’re putting together a lighting scheme it’s important to start with what you use that space for and when – crafting the perfect solution for each room is a balancing act between both ambient and task lighting. Floor plugs can provide huge flexibility and potential for bespoke task lighting, whilst daylight bulbs can create a soft, inviting feel in spaces lacking natural light. Pendant lighting can facilitate both: it’s perfect for kitchen islands and breakfast bars, and can work both as a spotlighting option and an ambient solution.
Wall lights can be a novel and atmospheric alternative to traditional overhead lighting, whilst desk and table lamps can provide a subtle glow. That’s not to say that overhead lighting shouldn’t be considered carefully – quite the opposite in fact – it is often the base of a lighting scheme, so choose something that reflects the character of the room and complements your wider style.
Designing with lighter colours does not necessarily create brighter spaces. It can be tempting to whitewash everything within reach, but sometimes the contrast of a pale hue against a darker shade can be far more effective. Statement wallpaper should not be ruled out: a dramatic feature wall can easily introduce lots of character, but make sure that it echoes softer colours in the room.
When it comes to paint, the finish is just as important as the colour. A common misconception is that a silken finish will brighten a room, but it can actually create a stark, glaring effect. A simpler matte finish offers a warmer, more subtle look. If you’re happy to experiment, the ceiling is an excellent place to start – try a high-gloss finish that will reflect the light and add a unique element.
Orient your room
If possible, try to avoid cumbersome furniture. Simplicity and scale are key to using a space effectively. Dark woods and a rich colour palette are best avoided if you’re after a brighter look, but if you’re working with existing pieces, there is still hope – disguise darker surfaces with colourful, simple accessories that draw the eye.
It pays to position furniture around your most commonly used light sources. After all, there’s no point installing those French doors if you turn your back on them, and it isn’t worth buying that perfect reading lamp if there isn’t the ideal armchair next to it.
Clear the clutter
De-cluttering can make a room look brighter in an instant. Tall, jam-packed bookshelves can certainly be a talking point, but they can be quite overwhelming to look at – and also may block light sources. It’s important to make the distinction between storage and display when designing any room – when this becomes blurred, clutter collects. Consider neat, low-level storage instead: the upper half of the room should be about openness, punctuated by carefully chosen displays. It’s not about removing things that make a room unique; rather, allowing light to pull the focus onto statement pieces, whilst retaining the character of a room.
Include flowers or plants
Nothing breathes new life into a space quite like flowers and plants. Equally, coming home to find them sad, droopy and yellow-leafed is incredibly guilt inducing. If you’re concerned about low levels of light, there are plenty of species which thrive in dimmer conditions: snake plants, bamboo, monstera and spider plants, to name a few, will all grow happily in dark corners. Alternatively, go faux: artificial flowers require zero maintenance and will bring an eternally fresh feel to your home.