Thursday, March 4News That Matters

Goodbye Cave, Hello Light: How To Bring More Natural Light Into Your Home

If there is one thing that almost every homeowner wants, it’s more natural light inside their home. Natural light is proven to improve productivity, brighten moods and is just more comfortable than most artificial light. Not to mention, relying on the light from the sun rather than lamps can drastically reduce your electric bills every month. It’s no wonder that surveys reveal that more than 25 percent of home buyers rate natural light as a “must have” in their homes, ahead of a large yard and open floor plan.

If you aren’t in the market for a new home, though, how can you increase the natural light in your existing space? There are actually many ways to accomplish this, from the simple to the extreme. There’s no need to feel like you are living in a cave — try some of these tricks and let the sunshine in.

1. Use Paint

It sounds obvious, but choosing lighter paint colors for your walls can go a long way toward making rooms feel brighter. Dark wall colors — whether from paint or wallpaper — actually absorb light, making even rooms that get plenty of light feel dark and gloomy. Instead, choose wall colors in shades of white or very pale colors, preferably in a satin finish, which reflects light better than matte finishes.  And no matter what, avoid the temptation to paint your ceilings in a dark or funky color. While it might be fun from a design standpoint, dark ceiling paint will absorb light and keep it from bouncing back into the room, making it feel darker and smaller.

And speaking of bouncing light, try painting the eaves of your home outdoors white as well. It’s a small change, but they will reflect more sunlight into your home, helping it feel brighter.

2. Choose Lighter Furniture

Dark, heavy furnishings and window treatments also absorb natural light and contribute to your home feeling dark and dreary. Whenever possible, choose lighter colors for upholstery, and replace heavy, light-blocking window treatments in favor of lighter, more transparent options.

3. Open the Doors

If you have a solid exterior door, replace it with one that has glass inserts, or add sidelights to bring in more light. Even a small window or glass insert at the top of the door can let in quite a bit of light. If you want to go even further, a solid glass door or French door brings in even more light. For the most natural light, consider a bifold door, which effectively turns most or all of a wall into one giant wall, while also giving you the option to open your home to the outdoors.

4. Replace Windows

Most homeowners only think about replacing windows when they want to increase energy efficiency. However, replacing old windows can also help increase natural light. Because most double-paned windows have been treated with a metallic Low-E coating, which blocks some light from coming in. While windows without this coating are no longer available, most major window manufacturers offer windows with a Low-E coating with a higher solar heat gain coefficient. Designed primarily for the northern U.S. and Canada, these windows block less of the sun’s ultraviolet rays than standard windows, which can increase the amount of light that comes through. Talk with your Philly window replacement contractor to learn more about these options and what’s available it your home.

You can also increase the natural light in your home by enlarging the window openings when you replace the windows — or by adding windows where there currently aren’t any. Installing a three-sided bay window, for instance, creates a bigger space for light to come in, while also creating more space. Just expanding the space around your windows by a few inches allows for the installation of windows with thinner frames, increasing the amount of available light.

5. Add Skylights

Finally, it’s a bit more extreme, but adding skylights can flood a room with natural sunlight. Although in the past skylights were plagued with problems related to leaks, modern design and installation techniques have reduced those issues.

Increasing the natural light in your home can help it feel larger and more open, while also improving your overall sense of well-being. Whether you opt for a simple fix with paint or a more involved construction project, the outcome is going to be a lighter, brighter and more pleasant environment.