Photo: Anna Stathaki

IN ALMOST EVERY REFURBISHMENT IN WHICH WE ARE INVOLVED these days, whether it’s a rebuild or an interior redesign, one of the two main requirements is that we enhance the available light. (The other is a connection with the outdoors and it must be said there is a link between the two.)
Now, as the darker days take over, we all begin to feel the need for more light in our lives and in our homes. If you’ve just moved home or you’re going through a refurb, how your home reacts to winter light will be a learning curve.
To help you, we’ve come up with eight things to consider to make the most of what is available. Even if you’re just looking around your home and wondering what can be done to make the winter days seem longer, these tips may help.

1. Do you know which way your house faces and where the light comes from? Are your rooms in the right places? Logically, you’d want to begin your day in a south or east facing room (kitchen, sitting/dining room)and finish up in the north/west (bedrooms). Also, if yours is a dark property, chances are the better light is on the upper floors. It’s quite normal these days to have reception rooms on the upper floors and sleeping areas below.

Photo: Paul Craig

2.Are you in a position to make structural changes? One of the most popular ways of increasing light is to remove internal walls, creating open plan areas that benefit from several light sources. However since the pandemic and our enforced confinement, it is often the case that home owners are searching for more defined spaces in which case glass doors or pockets doors that can be slid in and out as required solve the demand. A side return on a kitchen will increase working light on a ground floor and Velux windows in a roof are very effective.

Photo: Anna Stathaki

3. Now, let’s start on the outside. Are your windows obscured or in the shadow of trees, climbers or bushes that could be removed or redirected? (If you must remove a tree, please plant another in its stead.) There’s an aesthetic to be weighed up here – light versus character.
4. Still on the windows – these are after all the prime source of your light – are your curtains or blinds eating into your window space? Perhaps your curtain poles need to be wider to allow the curtains to hang just to the edge of the glass? If you prefer a more traditional approach, would a tieback serve a purpose? Blinds can be set above the window. If you need privacy, what about selected opaque windows whether glass or adhesive, café curtains, transparent or holey curtains.

Photo: Anna Stathaki

5. Run a health check on your lighting, or better still get an expert to do it for you as there is a definite skill to applying the right artificial light to its most advantageous. As a guide you’ll want an overhead light that illuminates the entire room, ambiance lighting to set whatever mood it is you prefer in that room and task lighting for particular areas where you’ll want to read, work or whatever else it is you do in that space. (See paint choices below.)

6. There’s a good reason why so many people choose walls in shades of white as this is the undisputed colour of reflected light. White ceilings and woodwork are also the best for reflecting light, if you wish to have a contrasting colour for your walls. Anything else and it’s really a question of relying on artificial light to provide your illumination. If you are choosing to paint your walls, choose a paint made up of several pigments, that will reflect both natural and artificial light.

Photo: Anna Stathaki

7. One of the most effective ways to bounce additional light around a room is with the use of mirrors. Be sure however to hang them in a position to reflect light that is coming into the room.

Photo: Todd Sutherland

8. Finally, choose furniture and furnishings in light colours. Even something a simple as glass or brass interior accessories can have a light reflecting quality that will contribute to the overall effect.

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