A house that lacks natural daylight is not a cheerful  place to be. When we don’t get enough sunlight, we suffer – our mood can dip and we don’t get vital shots of Vitamin D. Getting enough light is important too for regulating our circadian rhythms, helping us to sleep better and perform more effectively.  In extreme cases, people who fail to get adequate blasts of natural daylight are at risk of the debilitating condition Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you live in a gloomy house that lacks daylight, there are many things you can do to address the situation. Try out some of these suggestions for lifting the light levels at home…

The big stuff 

To spread more light around your home you can try reconfiguring the internal rooms. Knocking down internal walls is an effective way of opening up dark areas, allowing light from other rooms to flood in. Double up the amount of natural daylight by fitting new windows with timber framed windows in walls of the darkest rooms. Any extra windows, whether they are timber frames or aluminium, directly address the lighting issue and are the most effective solution to interior gloom. If new window openings aren’t practical, consider light tubes, these are fittings that harvest light via the roof and are great for dark hallways, bathrooms and other small areas needing illumination.

Think about replacing solid wooden doors with glazed alternatives to allow light to flow more freely. If privacy is an issue, etched or frosted  glass can be substituted. Using glazed panels above internal doorways and  transparent glass bricks instead of solid walls also help light to be spread as efficiently as possible.

The colour stuff 

Don’t fill a dark interior with more dark stuff!  Deep saturated paint shades will drain the light from a room very effectively. Decorate with pale, reflective colours that optimise the available light. Pastels and pale shades on walls, floors and ceilings will really help to suck more light in.  If you are a real colour addict, try using a pastel shade with a slightly lighter tone on the ceiling – this will create the illusion of high and light. Avoid a bland interior scheme by using vibrant pops of colour in small, punchy accents. Bright coloured cushions, rugs or artwork to liven the space up.

Dark flooring drags a room into the dark. Use creamy carpets, whitewashed floorboards or pale shiny tiles to broadcast light all over the place, from the ground up.

Choose furnishings made from reflective materials like polished wood, glass, acrylic and perspex. Metallic finishes like chrome, brass and copper all glint wonderfully in low light, lifting the gloom. Glass shelves, mirrored cabinets and galleried walls filled with pictures in glass frames all help to bounce light around, pushing back the boundaries and creating the illusion of a lit up space.

The extra stuff 

Mirrors are your best ally in the war against dark rooms. Invest in several large mirrors and place them next to, or opposite places where light enters. Mirrors also work wonders in dark hallways, stairwells, alcoves and corners where rooms just seem to melt away into darkness. Try covering a wall full of an eclectic collection of junk store mirrors for an interesting and off-beat solution to dim décor.

Make sure your existing light-sources are maximised. Avoid heavy curtains and fussy window treatments because these block valuable sunshine into a room. Replace with streamlined blinds or interior wooden  shutters for a clean, sharp look.

Channel your inner-magpie and accessorize with shiny, glittery items that reflect light. Venetian crystal chandeliers, glass vases, brass door handles, gilded picture frames, silver tea services – whatever takes your fancy, just so long as it’s highly reflective.

The outdoor stuff 

Don’t forget to check outside for trees or shrubs that may obscure windows, preventing light from entering. Perhaps there’s a hedge or fencing that can be re-profiled to allow more light to get in through the windows. Don’t ignore what’s on the outside of your property, because it may be blocking your light.

Everybody needs natural daylight and if you are not getting adequate rations, make some changes indoors to put things right. Whether it’s a case of getting out the sledgehammer and taking out a few walls (check with a structural engineer first!), or placing a mirror in the perfect position, it’s good to know you can help light find its way into your home…

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