Wednesday, 29 August 2012

How to bring more light into your home

OK, so I am ashamed to admit that I actually wrote this blog entry back in the middle of a cold, dark, wet day in June.  The start of Winter, when you think you might never see the sun stream through your windows again.

The intention of the article was to look at ways of bringing natural light into your home or workspace during the colder months when you need to be more creative about bringing what daylight there is, inside.  Now though, with only a few days left of Winter and the promise of Spring knocking at the door, I guess it is equally relevant, now that we perhaps have some sun to capture.  So here it is ….

This week’s blog topic -

How to bring more light into your home

OK, so it’s winter.  Days are short and the sky is grey – most of the time.  You want your home to be warm and cosy, but have you ever noticed how dark it is inside ?  You have the lights on all the time – even during the day.  How depressing !  So why not kick out those winter blues and bring in a bit of sunshine !  In fact, the winter sun is a great way to warm your house, not forgetting the all important Vitamin D factor !!

So without further ado, here are some great tips for bringing more light into your home.

1.       Re-assess your window furnishings

Window furnishings are a must at night time in winter.  They help to keep out the cold and keep in the warmth around windows which are generally one of the biggest sources of heat loss in a home.  But during the day, when the heat from the sun can be one of the cheapest and not to mention, the cheeriest way to heat your home, there is absolutely no reason to have those heavy shades drawn.  Even on a fairly grey day, the light coming in from the windows can make a big difference.


So, take a look at your current window furnishings.  Are they working to their full potential ?  By this I mean, can you pull them across the window at night and then open them right up, clearing the entire window in the daytime ?  No ?  OK so how much of the window is covered by the curtain during the day when the curtains are open ?  Curtains like the red ones shown here can actually cover the window opening by more than 50% letting in only half the amount of light.

We suggest going for a curtain which can clear the window opening when open, while still remaining effective at night.  If you’re worried about privacy, then sheer curtains are the best way to restrict what can be seen from the outside, while allow most of the daylight in.


2.       Consider painting out wood and exposed brickwork

              Does your home have exposed timber or brickwork ? 
These are both great features to have, however in small spaces, they can really dull a room, leaving it feeling small and dark. 
Painting out some of the exposed timber or brickwork can make a huge difference in reflecting light around the room.  If you like the timber or brickwork, why not pick out some parts and make them a feature, while painting the remaining sections a light colour. 


Ceilings are really important for light, so if you have a lot of exposed timber on the ceiling, perhaps you could leave the main structural members exposed but paint the rest of the ceiling white. 


3.       Ceilings

Speaking of ceilings, one of the most important areas of the home if you want to keep it looking and feeling light is the ceiling.  There is no grey area here.  The facts are simple.  Paint your ceilings white if you want your room to be light filled (plus you’ll get the added bonus of the ceiling appearing higher than a dark ceiling as well).  So unless you have 12ft ceilings, then the answer is white, white and white.


4.       Light fittings

Assessing your current light fittings, and globes, is another great way to improve light levels within your home.  Are your lights appropriate for the space ?  Do you have enough lights and are the globes of a sufficient wattage ?  Have you replaced globes that have blown or are missing ?

The shape and style of light fitting makes a big difference to the way in which light is emitted from the fitting.  Pendant lights, for example generally hang directly down over the space which is required to be lit.  They are great as task lighting and as a feature in a room, such as hanging over bench in a kitchen, but they are not the right kind of light to provide maximum lighting levels within a large room.


The general rule is that the closer the fitting is located to the ceiling, the more likely it is to provide a wider beam of light to a room and therefore will light a larger space.

5.       Mirrors

Mirrors, and reflective surfaces in general are another great way to maximise the light within a room.  The more reflective the surface, the more the light bounces around the room.  In fact you could almost consider it as recycling light, as once you bring the light in to the room, it gets used over and over again.

Mirrors can be used over fireplaces, they can be framed like pictures and hung on the wall – you can even cover a whole wall with mirror.  This is most commonly used in spaces such as bathrooms, but could be used anywhere – perhaps as a splashback in the kitchen.  As a rule, they really help to make spaces feel larger, and much, much brighter. 


Shiny tiles on floors, or highly reflective joinery or bench tops in kitchens again help to bounce light around a room and make good use of the light you already have.


6.       Skylights

Ok, ok I can hear the groans from here, as most of you are currently imagining the skylights of the 1980’s, which were ugly square holes in the ceiling that brought in about as much light as a postage stamp.  But hear me out.  The skylights of today are many and varied and are much more attractive and effective than ever before.  Skylights are a great way to bring in light when windows are not an option. 
Personally I think Belle Skylights in Moorabbin would be a great place to start looking into skylight lights as an option, but see for yourselves online at what options could be available for you.


Alternatively, roof windows are another cool version of the skylight, and are usually openable, meaning that not only do they let in light, but are also useful in letting out warm air in summer and increasing ventilation.  The accepted worldwide leader in roof windows would have to be Velux.  Another useful website for getting ideas I think.


I hope we have inspired you to start thinking about some of the ways you can maximise the potential in your home.  We’d love to hear about any ideas you have about bringing light in to your home, so feel free to share your ideas, comments and questions below.