Gloomy rooms do nothing for your décor, the sense of space in your home, or your spirits. There’s no need to resign yourself to a home life in the shadows, though. There are a whole host of ways you can improve your interiors to introduce more natural light.
Start with easy wins
Borrowing light from other spaces is a low-cost route to making dark rooms brighter naturally. Instead of stopping the passage of light with a solid wood internal door, swap it for a design that includes glass panels. You’ll want to avoid this strategy for bedrooms and bathrooms, of course, but it’s a great way to bring light from living spaces to a windowless hall or landing, for example. Likewise, consider exchanging your solid wood front or back door for a version with glass panels.
Look, too, to the areas above doors or even along the top of a wall as a rectangular window can be fitted between two rooms at a height that won’t compromise privacy but will allow the free flow of natural light. This is a strategy that’ll work between bedrooms or a bathroom and a dark landing without bringing a blush to your face.
Even your window treatments might be making your rooms duller than they need to be. A longer curtain rail or pole that allows the fabric to be drawn right away from the window during the daytime will maximise light; a roller blind will expose more of the glass than a Roman blind where the fabric’s pleats obscure the top; and shutters can be folded back against the wall.
Think ceilings and floors
Natural light can flow between levels of your house, as well as from room to room if you’re prepared to invest. Suitable structural glass is essential, but a glass floor/ceiling combination can light a dark corridor below a room with a window.
Improve your windows
The design of your windows and any sliding, bi fold or French doors can also make a huge difference to the amount of light reaching your room. Glazing bars can add character, but a larger expanse of plain glass will introduce more natural light. Chunky window frames, too, can be swapped for a lighter, finer design. If you’re considering fitting new windows, do be aware that strict rules govern listed buildings and homes in conservation areas, so talk to your local planning department before you start.
You could even think about introducing windows where you haven’t had them before. Be aware of the look of your home from the outside before you embark on adding extras because you won’t do its value any favours if the final appearance isn’t attractive. Bear in mind, too, that you’ll lose internal wall space you may need for positioning furniture or storage. Again, speak to your local council about the need for planning permission, and remember that the building regulations apply to replacement glazing.
Many of us extend our homes using a side return or another configuration that means windows on the side of the new room are an impossibility. A glazed roof is an option that will ensure there’s plenty of daylight in your new room. However, depending on the orientation of your home, it can mean your extension gets too hot in summer. A glazed roof will also lose heat more readily than a solid insulated roof. Talk to your builder or architect about alternatives such as sky lights or – particularly for a south-facing roof – a series of roof windows that’ll let the light in and can be openable to increase the room’s ventilation.
Lighten your loft
If you’re converting the loft to create extra living space, it’s vital to fit roof windows to bring natural light to your new rooms. As well as considering doubling up with two or even three windows fitted side by side, maximise the height of any design to optimise the light – and the views.
Tunnel light in
If your bathroom, hall or landing doesn’t have any windows at all, consider a sun pipe or tunnel. These bring light in from the roof of your home – where you’ll just see a very small square or round protrusion – to the room through a tube. In the room, a diffuser that looks like a round light sits in the ceiling illuminating the space, avoiding the need to turn on the electric light during the day.