How to brighten your home
Posted by American Homes 4 Rent Team
9m read time
Feb 23, 2022
Creating a bright and airy environment in your home is a great way to boost your mood and love the space around you. And it doesn’t have to require a lot of time or money. It takes just a little extra effort to let in more light each room. Not only will you appreciate the new aesthetics, you’re also likely to notice a difference in how you feel throughout the day and while you sleep.
The benefits of natural light
Letting in more natural light in your home provides both physical and emotional benefits. Here are just a few advantages you may experience:
Increase your vitamin D: Nearly 42% of Americans are estimated to have a vitamin D deficiency. Exposing your skin to natural sunlight is an easy and effective way to increase your vitamin D, which is an important nutrient to maintain bone and heart health.
Get better sleep: Experiencing light throughout the day keeps your circadian rhythm on track. That, in turn, leads to better sleep, because your body recognizes the transition between day and night. Getting more light also ensures your body only produces melatonin at night when it’s dark.
Avoid seasonal affective disorder (SAD): If you feel bluesy during the cold dark months, you’re not alone. SAD is a real thing that can bring down your mood as the days get shorter and colder. Creating a bright and cozy atmosphere in your home can help lessen the symptoms you may experience.
13 tips to brighten your home
Ready to brighten your home in time for spring? Follow these steps, most of which are low cost and low effort, making it a great weekend project to tackle.
Keep your walls light
Your Instagram feed may be full of dark, moody interiors that make you want to curl up in front of the fire and spend the evening reading a Jane Austen novel. While there’s certainly something to be said for these intense colors on the walls, they can quickly make a space feel small and somber. No matter what size room you’re working in, light walls automatically accentuate the existing brightness in the space, whether it’s from windows or lighting.
Plus, light paint doesn’t have to mean blank walls. You can still incorporate your personality. If you want to add color, consider stick-on wallpaper decals in hues like lavender, soft yellow, French blue, greenish-gray, or light pink. You’ll feel a major difference compared to shades like navy blue or forest green, no matter how popular they are on social media.
Save darker colors as contrast
There’s still a place for dark colors in your living areas, even when trying to brighten the room. Use dark colors as dramatic contrast pieces, like picture frames on the walls or throw pillows on your bed.
In fact, budget-friendly design elements are the perfect way to explore your style and different color schemes without overshadowing the entire room. Plus, you can switch out details for different seasons. Go for jewel tones in the fall and winter months, pastels in the spring, and brighter tones for summer. Your light walls serve as a canvas for your style through art, pillows, and throw blankets.
Keep your windows free
Leaving your windows unobscured is one of the most impactful ways to brighten your home. You can quickly achieve this by incorporating a quick and totally free habit into your daily routine. When you first wake up in the morning, open all of your curtains and blinds to let in the light. It’ll really motivate you to get started on your day.
Also consider what type of curtains and blinds you use throughout your home. You might not even notice how much dark, heavy drapes block out the light in a room. In a living room, sheer, light filtering curtains are best. And make the extra effort to push the curtains all the way back on the rod to maximize the amount of light that’s able to come in through the windows.
Use mirrors to reflect light
It can be hard to get natural light in a space that has few windows or is north-facing and consequently doesn’t receive a lot of sunlight. A great trick to compensate for this is to strategically place mirrors opposite of your light sources. Each mirror will reflect the light so that it bounces throughout the room, rather than being stuck right in front of the window.
You can also use accent mirrors in smaller spaces, like leaning one on a bookshelf or on the back of a credenza. Shoot for bonus points by using mirrors behind lamps as well, giving you extra impact throughout the room.
Maximize lighting locations
Another way to brighten a room is to add lighting in strategic locations. Oftentimes, overhead lighting isn’t enough to make a space feel well-lit. There are a few places where extra lamps and other types of lights can make a huge difference.
First, place your lamps close to the walls. That gives the light a surface to reflect off of and creates a greater impact. Next, consider adding light strips underneath cabinets or shelving. They add a lovely ambient glow in the evening. Plus, they’re inexpensive and easy to install and take down. Opt for a simple peel-and-stick application for ease and to prevent damage to your surfaces.
Brightening up these dark corners not only make the space feel bigger, they also help you see better as it gets dark at night.
Check your bulbs
You can’t have a lighting plan without considering the bulbs you use. First of all, make sure you always have spares on hand so that you can replace them as soon as they go out. That means you may have a few different shapes and sizes of bulbs depending on what you need for lamps versus chandeliers, etc.
But also consider what type of bulbs you use. Do you ever walk into a room that looks like a sterile environment? You shouldn’t feel like you’re going to a medical exam every time you enter your living room. Solve this problem by using soft lights that are labeled as warm, rather than cool. It’s an easy swap that has a huge impact on the overall effect of your room. Remember, glaring light doesn’t automatically equal brighter. You’re much more likely to hang out in a room that feels warm and inviting.
If you’re renting a home, just make sure to replace the bulbs with the original type to prevent any additional charges upon move-out.
Swap out dark lamp shades
The brightest light bulb won’t have much of an effect in brightening your space if it’s hidden by a dark lamp shade. Take this opportunity to evaluate the lamps throughout your home and determine which areas still feel dark as you transition from day to night. You could get better results by switching dark shades for lighter ones. This is also a less expensive way to upgrade the look of a lamp without having to replace the entire piece, which can add up quickly.
Clean windows regularly
It may seem like a major chore to clean your windows, but this simple, cost-effective task goes a long way in maximizing the amount of light that enters your home. A bottle of glass cleaner and microfiber cloth work well on the inside of your windows. But you’ll likely want to use a more intensive process for the outside, since those windows are subject to all kinds of natural elements.
Start off by rinsing off each window, then fill a bucket with soapy water to use for scrubbing the glass with either a sponge or cloth. When you’re done, rinse everything with water again. For a truly pristine and streak-free look, finish up by using a squeegee to remove excess water. The finished product will be well worth the few hours of extra effort!
Opt for transparent tables
Your furniture plays a major role in the feeling of light in your room. But you don’t need to run out and spend thousands of dollars to replace a sofa. Instead, make a few strategic changes that make a big difference.
One easy way to do this is to incorporate transparent tables that are made from materials like glass or lucite. The great thing is that there’s a huge range of styles available, from traditional glass coffee tables to modern, clear lucite blocks that make great end tables. Your space will look more open and light will also be able to pass through to the rest of the room, giving your day a much brighter feel.
Layer light rugs
A light rug can also add brightness to a room, whether your floor is already carpeted or has tile or hardwood. It’s a simple and budget-friendly method for increasing light without actually taking on any kind of renovation project. Plus, it’s another way to reflect your design preferences with color, patterns, and prints. To truly make the room feel large and open, choose one large area rug that comes within a foot of the walls. That way you don’t have multiple lines distracting your eyes from the room as a whole.
Incorporate shiny accessories
As you decorate your room, think about the materials you use and how they reflect light. Just like mirrors, shiny accessories allow the light to bounce around the room. Brass is a popular finish right now, but you can also go for a sleek look with chrome, copper, or another type of metal. Think trays, small sculptures, vases, or other knick knacks to decorate your space. Like mirrors, place these accessories near windows and lamps for maximum impact.
Use house plants strategically
We are living in an era of a house plant renaissance. But that doesn’t mean you should fill up every windowsill and bright corner of your home with plants. They certainly work well for adding a natural element to the space as well as purifying the air. But too many can clutter up a room, especially if they’re vying for light areas near windows. Focus on low-light house plants that thrive well in indirect light. Then reserve a few favorites for that precious real estate near your windows.
Decluttering the surfaces in a room is a fast way to open up and brighten the space. Coffee tables, night stands, and fireplace mantels should be cleared off. You’ll be surprised by how light and airy the room will feel without the visual blockade of mail, books, and other belongings that tend to gather on these surfaces. Just like clear furniture, less stuff means more space for light to travel through, giving your home a glowing feel.
Brightening up your home is well worth the time and effort it takes to implement a few of these tips. Start by identifying your biggest problem areas and then set aside a small amount of your time or budget to tackle those issues. As you let the light stream in, you’re likely to find yourself in a much better mood!
Note: This content does not constitute or substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider or licensed physician before beginning an exercise program or nutritional regimen.
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