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8 ingenious ways to get more natural light into a room



Master The Art of Daylighting


Special design techniques are used to encourage natural light into any room. Called 'daylighting', interior designers and architects use super-nifty methods to maximise ambient natural light and reduce reliance on artificial light – whatever the weather.


You can use the same principles to bring light into your home to make it naturally sunnier, from ingenious ways to brighten a dark hall to knowing which type and shade of paint to use to reflect light.



kitchen extension showing 3 skylights to bring more light into the kitchen

Natural indoor light and your health


It has long been recognised that a good level of natural light directed into a room tends to promote better health and well being.


This has been back up by LIT Lighting Design Awards wrote that "bringing natural light inside buildings creates a pleasant ambience and energises interiors. It is indeed a design element like no other".


Beyond the styling aesthetics, LIT endorsed the fact that encouraging natural light into buildings helps humans sync their body clocks, heighten serotonin levels, and keep warm.


It seems the case for turning up natural light indoors has many benefits, and it's easier than you'd imagine.


 

1) Begin outdoors

A Bliss Interiors project showing a bamboo plant on in front of an window

This first hack to bring natural light into your home does involve hacking! Overgrown or unruly foliage outside your home can block natural light.


Without suggesting you take an axe to a beautiful tree, but a little light pruning could allow more sunlight to dance through your windows. 


Secondly, you know that gleaming clean glass miraculously brightens any room, so grab a cloth and buff those windows!



 

2) Mirror, mirror on the wall


a large round mirror in a hall to demonstrate how mirrors help reflect natural light indoors

Mirrors are great at doing so much more that reflect images. A well considered placement of a mirror or a cluster of smaller mirrors opposite or at a diagonal to a window will reflect and refract light around the room.


Along the same principles, the glass on your pictures will have good reflective powers.



 

3) Reflective Surfaces

2 gold metal vases on a white background

Consider objects and accents that have reflective qualities and strategically place them where light will ricochet off their surface.


You don't need to go overboard, but repositioning a shiny vase or adding

metallic accents will make a difference.


Experiment with objects moving them around and notice whether they reflect more or less light.


You could even try painting a dull wall or nook with a high gloss paint to lift and liven it up so it becomes a feature.



 

4) Let's talk about white paint


an empty white room with a ladder and paint pots to demonstrate how different white paints enhance natural light indoors

Do you need white walls and white ceilings for a room to feel bright? Not necessarily! 


White can make a room feel light, but proceed with caution as not all white paints are created equal. From cool zinc whites to warm ivories, alabasters, ecru's and soft whites, the tone variations are endless, as are their light-reflecting qualities. 


Reflect or absorb?

Light will bounce of most whites in varying degrees, but some whites - particularly grey-whites have light-absorbing tendencies. Even though they are pale, your room will be darker because the pigments in the paint soak up light.


Choosing the right white is a big decision, so proceed with caution! Too much white can look sterile. When a white theme is combined with gloss white surfaces, gloss white paint and marble floors it can look clinical


North versus south

North-facing rooms: To balance the cooler hues of northern light, I recommend soft whites with ever-so-subtle yellow or red undertones. Little Greene's Linen Wash (33) is a sunny, warm off-white that will brighten a dull day.


South-facing rooms can handle cooler blue-whites and arctic whites.


Matt, eggshell, satin, sheen, gloss?

Once you've chosen your perfect shade of paint colour, consider the finish. Lick Paint recommends durable matt for covering up imperfections, but it has zero light-reflecting qualities.


  • Use a soft white with a sheen on ceilings to ricochet warm sunshine around the room.

  • Go for satins, eggshells, and soft sheen paint finishes on walls and woodwork for their subtle light-reflecting abilities.

  • Durable matt paint absorbs light.



a pastel colour kitchen to demonstrate how light paint colours enhance natural light indoors


 

4) Keep the light coming in



a photo of a window with a mid century chair in front of it to demonstrate how delicate furniture near windows allows the natural light to enter the room

Should the layout of your room include positioning a sofa or armchair in front of patio doors or low silled window keep a good level of light coming in by ensuring the furniture is raised up off the floor on feet or legs. Also, ensure the upholstery is a bright and lively colour to keep the light bouncing in.


Tables and seating that let light shine through the legs work well, with Scandi, Japandi or modern mid-century pieces being elegantly' airy' enough to place in front of

windows.




 


5) Light-reflecting floors


a cream William Morris rug by Ruggable demonstrating how a pale rug can brighten rooms with dark floors

Dark carpets, dark wood floors and tiles tend to absorb natural light. This can be counterbalanced with pale or high coloured rugs with lively patterns to help 'lift' the room and contrast with dark floors.


If the thought of children, pets and parties trashing a cream rug makes you shudder, there are handsome washable rugs available!


Ruggable has versatile machine-washable rugs and runners that won't break the bank, like this William Morris design shown here.






 


6) Window dressing with a lighter touch


sheer white curtains on a tall window to demonstrate how sheer curtains let natural light indoors

Brighten your windows by removing heavy pelmets and replacing them with rods or poles. If there is space, the poles should extend beyond the edge of the windows, then open the curtains back as far as possible. The more window you expose, the more daylight you'll let in!


For a winning combination of soft natural light, daytime privacy, insulation and value, take a look at Ikea's Hoppvals cellular blinds. They've even done away with fiddly pull-cords!

There are plenty of lightweight curtains and blinds on the market with something for every budget. Anthropologie has a wonderfully eclectic range of ready-made sheers, and for understated bespoke linen curtains, visit the Swedish-inspired range from Att Pynta. You may also like to take a look at Blinds To Go where there is a wide range of reasonably priced window coverings.


Warm and cosy

If heavy curtains are part of your insulation strategy during the colder months, try draping them as far back as possible during daylight hours to allow maximum sunshine stream through the windows.


 

7) Plan your extensions and conversions for light


a huge square plain window letting natural light into a room

We've designed countless renovations, extensions, and conversions with the inclusion of natural light as an inherent part of any proposal. Oversized or tall-and-low windows and glass doors allow vast amounts of natural light indoors.


The Danish Building Research Institute confirmed in "The Study on Daylight" that angled roof windows can let in double the natural light compared to vertical windows.


Roof lights / Skylights

By far, the most effective way to bring natural light indoors is from above! Roof lights or skylights dwarf the light-capturing powers of vertical windows and dormers.



This kitchen extension in Surrey was designed to harnesses natural light. Windows on sloped ceilings – handily named "skeilings" in the industry – are the most effective way to bring light indoors.

Roof lights – or skylights like the one shown here – transformed this kitchen by bathing it in natural light. There is a feeling of spaciousness, while the windows simultaneously ventilate the whole room and clean the air. The entire kitchen feels fresh and inviting.



 

8) How to get light into windowless rooms


Windowless rooms such as basements, narrow corridors and even bathrooms cry out for natural light. Fear not; there are solutions. 

a small girl on a bicycle gazes up at the light from a Velux sun tunnel panel for an article by Bliss Interiors on bringing natural light indoors

Interior windows

The first method to 'borrow' light from other rooms with internal windows, glass panels or glass bricks. An internal window can work surprisingly well and may add a little quirkiness to any room. Budget permitting, it will require a little building work, but the results are worth the effort.


Sun tunnels

The other option is to channel light from the sky through a light-refracting tube. Sun tunnels are a wonderful feat of engineering.


A discrete light panel is installed on the roof. Natural light bounces through a tunnel, and 98% of it exits through a diffused glass panel inside your home. It's an ingenious solution to brighten even the gloomiest areas.



The sky's the limit


Harnessing more natural light is an ingenious way to make your home feel sunny, bright and healthy. Even subtle changes will make a difference, so have fun experimenting and then bask in the results.



 


Photo of Julie Bliss of Bliss Interiors. She has short blonde hair, is wearing a black sweater and bangles. is sitting on a sofa and is laughing.

I hope this article gives you the confidence to intentionally use natural light as part of your personal home styling.


Follow me for more design tips, or drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you.





Julie Bliss of Bliss Interiors & Architectural Design




 




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