Not every home has the benefit of having excellent southern exposure or receives full sunlight through the day. During the shorter days of winter, we are indoors more and many of us are inside our homes instead of the workplace or commuting. Our bodies are regulated by exposure to sunlight in a number of ways, including the production of serotonin affecting mood, feelings of well-being and calmness and Vitamin D supporting a strong immune system and more.
Whether you plan to sell or stay put in 2022 and beyond, taking a quick and objective look around to find ways to brighten up your living space is a great way for you to bring in the New Year!
Start with taking a walk around the exterior of your property to identify areas where sunlight might be blocked and unable to reach your home. Trees which have grown very tall or are close to the house could be obstructing more daylight than you realize. Shrubs, hedges and vines should be trimmed so they are not covering the windows.
Some recommend painting the underside of the eaves which overhang with a bright white paint to help reflect sunlight into the windows of your home. Larger structural changes like replacing existing windows with larger ones, adding skylights or light tubes will all help to let in more natural light.
There are other immediate and cost-effective measures you can get started with to improve the lighting inside your home as well.
1. Clean your windows. Window washing can generally fall into spring and fall cleaning routines, but some homeowners prefer to have it done more frequently. If doing this yourself plan to do it during warmer days when windows may still be left open and the outside water spigots and hoses are still connected. Window screens are best done during a warm day to dry in the sun while window glass should be cleaned on a cloudy day to reduce streaking. Different types of glass may require different maintenance so understand what to avoid by checking manufacturer’s instructions.
2. Change your lightbulbs. Daylight lightbulbs have a much higher lumen than bright white and soft white bulbs. Try replacing older lightbulbs with new daylight bulbs and watch a room with only a single bulb be dramatically brightened immediately. While changing the lightbulb wash the globe or shade of the fixture to get rid of dust which accumulates and filters the light. Check for any missing bulbs or ones which are not working and replace.
3. Window treatments. Curtain rods should extend beyond the window frame 4 inches to 10 inches depending on style of curtain panels to have a space for your curtains when open. A common mistake is to mount the rods too short with little to no overhang, so the curtains constantly cover up part of the windows even when they are open all the way. This is a fantastic way to highlight the windows and make them appear larger. Curtains and draperies which are made from heavy fabric block out the natural sunlight and can also make a room feel less spacious and more cluttered. Choose window treatments made of lightweight or sheer fabrics and panels which will allow sunlight to enter the room and help to create an airy and open quality.
4. Placement of furniture. Deep furniture or large pieces are best situated towards the center of the room and away from windows. Whenever possible leave the framing of windows open and unobstructed with limited knick-knacks, window décor or interruptions. Floating shelves placed too near a window could block incoming light during certain times and items may filter the natural light so consider how the light will work when placing.
5. New doors. If you have a solid exterior door you may consider one with windows or decorative glass to increase light in a dark entry or staircase. Adding transom windows over exterior doors and side lights to your casing will also make a big impact on natural light. The use of a full glass door in place of a ho hum steel one can immediately turn a dreary hallway into a focal point without breaking the bank. Swap out a light blocking interior door in an office or library with timeless French doors to dramatically lift the whole space.
6. Reflective décor. Hanging mirrors on the wall opposite of windows will reflect the light into the room and significantly amplify a room’s natural light. The larger the mirror the more light, however even smaller decorative mirrors can also have a huge impact when hung in the right spot. Consider wallpapers with metallics or the use of a glass or acrylic coffee table in place of a wooden one or a mirrored dresser. Choose metallic fixtures and drawer handles and pulls or add a reflective backsplash in the kitchen to brighten the room.
Adding layers of artificial lighting can now easily be achieved through the use of LED light tape, but you may try up-down lighting or wall sconces, as well, not just buying more lamps. Be mindful when making paint color and finish selections for your walls and ceilings and remember dark flooring and cabinetry will also drown out light so those rooms may need a light lift as well. These small changes to the inside of your living space are sure to brighten your days when we need it most! <
Nicole Foster is a Broker and a Windham resident who may be reached at 207-615-7558 or Nicole@locationsinmaine.com .