As the days grow shorter, light becomes a commodity for our homes. Busy schedules and budgets don't always allow us to knock down walls to add optimal light into our homes. However, there are several inexpensive DIYs and designs you can create which will brighten your home.
For me, this was a big "ah-ha" moment. I had not washed the exterior of our big kitchen window for years. Yes...YEARS. I had grown so accustomed to the dingy view onto our backyard that I didn't give it a second thought. Just recently, however, I caught a breath of a strange wind and decided to whip out the ol' Windex and paper towels. Within 7 minutes, my whole kitchen was transformed. Being our main window in this space, light flooded onto the cabinets and tile floor. It immediately elevated my mood and gave me a sense of pride. Even better, it's a great job for kids so let them loose! Cleaning windows requires little effort but makes a big impact in brightening up your home.
Not all solutions can be 7 minutes fixes. However, painting trim of your house is certainly something you can do yourself relatively inexpensively that makes a HUGE impact. Now, my husband would scoff at the idea of painting wood trim. He likes seeing the wood grain and maintaining the integrity of the material. So, if your partner shares my husband's opinion, I totally understand why painting the trim would not be a good idea. However, at the very least, try to update the stain color. Luckily, our trim was already painted so I was able to sand and smooth the initial surface then repaint it a bright white in high gloss to make it easily washable from all of the grubby handprints.
If you really want to change up the feel of your spaces and brighten them up, painting the walls really is a necessity. New wall paint definitely cleans the space up and, by default, makes it sparkle. But it's really the color of your walls that make a huge impact. Obviously, lighter colors will open up the space. However, how do you choose the ideal color without being boring? Luckily, there are many options for modern neutrals that can keep your home feeling cozy without making it feel sterile. Most big paint producers (Sherwin Williams, Behr, Valspar, etc) have several palettes of neutrals recommended by them which takes the guessing out of your hands. Choose a hue from this category in a satin - this sheen allows you to be able to wipe down your walls without the impact of a high gloss finish showing imperfections.
Growing up in a beautiful early 20th century, 3 story brick home, we had a ton of windows. I remember my mother sewing her own curtains and valances in cranberry, forest green and navy blue colors and patterns. I also remember her wadding up newspaper and stuffing into her loose valances to poof them out - she was the original DIY-er! She could get away with these heavy drapes because of 10-foot ceilings and spacious rooms. Most of us don't have homes that luxurious. So, get rid of those dark heavy drapes! Use semi-sheer cafe curtains that allow light to filter through. If privacy is your priority, you can achieve that with a light colored blackout curtains. I also put my curtains on clip hangers so I can easily open or close them giving the windows maximum openings. Furthermore, rearrange or replace furniture if you have any blocking the windows.
We have a little addition on the back of our house with little windows. There was originally a drop ceiling that we removed to discover a high beamed ceiling. What a gem, right? Yes! However, the height of the ceiling dwarfed the already small windows. To create proportion and give a sense of levity to the space, I hung our curtain well above the window frame - closer to the ceiling. This immediately opens up the height of your space.
Like heavy and dark drapes, furniture of the same ilk can overwhelm a room. Now, as a mother with three boys, I obviously cannot invest in a cream tuft couch that would add a touch of sophistication to my well lived in home. I have got to have a darker couch to hide dirt and grime from the boys but, to balance the color, I chose a couch with exposed legs instead of one that goes all the way down to ground. This style of couch offers all of the comfort of a big stuffed couch but with more flooring visible, it makes the room brighter and bigger.
Similarly, time to get rid of traditional, heavy, wooden coffee tables, end tables, and dining room sets. Consider pieces that are made from acrylic, glass, or mirrors. These light and reflective materials allow you to see more of the room thus brightening it. Heavy pieces absorb light which makes the room dark and appear to shrink. Also, opt for pretty metal dining room chairs with short backs. Keeping them short also allows a visual pathway through the home which opens it up and allows for light to filter all around.
This may seem obvious but, to brighten up a room, add lights! I don't mean to add a bigger overhead light. Instead, add lamps. These soft sources of light can brighten up a dark part of a room without making it stark and overwhelming. Also, opt for streamlined designs in metallic finishes and bright shades.
Mirrors mirrors mirrors! If possible, hang a mirror across from a natural light source because it will reflect and disperse that gorgeous sunshine. If that isn't possible, try to hang it in a dark corner. Even if it isn't directly reflecting light, it will still brighten up a dark corner. Mirrors come in so many different styles and shapes: farmhouse, retro, traditional and everything in between! If you feel that your wall space is too limited for a larger sized mirror because you don't want to be a focal point, try to hang a couple smaller ones together. This way, you can get the brightening effect without constantly shocking yourself by walking by your reflection!
Art is my favorite design element because it is so versatile! Softer, neutral abstractions are the best design as a room brightener. Not all of us can afford a one of a kind piece from an artist, but there are lots of prints that are affordable. On the lower end, Home Goods is a great place to visit. On the pricier end, try Anthropologie. Both stores offer recreated art that is meant to be affordable. When framing art, choose simple, streamlined frames in lighter colors or metallics.
We can't forget about our floors! Changing the floors entirely can be time consuming and costly. So often this isn't even an option. However, a big bright area rug can really change the feel of a room. Sisal rugs are a great option if you have little kids or animals. Also, most carpeting stores or big hardware stores with a flooring department will sell carpet remnants for a fraction of the cost. You can opt to get the rug bound, depending on what fabric you have. Regardless, for about $80-$200 you can make your room seem bigger and brighter instantly!
An unexpected bouquet from a partner is an amazing gift! But they die after a couple of days. Instead, consider a houseplant that stays alive for years to come. Plants also brighten the room because they are literally bringing life into your home. Natural outside elements introduced as design indoor elements have the effect of opening up our senses thus brightening and expanding our spaces.
A windowless, heavy front door may be efficient in extreme temperatures. However, it is blocking out a major source of natural light. A glass storm door or a new front door with a window can maximize the natural light that is being blocked. Nowadays, doors are made from high quality materials that will keep your home efficient but with the added bonus of bringing in the light!
There is no reason to stay in the dark even if you own a smaller home or apartment! You have several options to add light, reflect light, and manipulate light's paths to make your home as bright as possible!