Install glass doors to let natural light into the house. Courtesy image
Add twinkle lights inside your home. Courtesy image
By SUZETTE FOX
Fall and winter start cozy — who hasn’t used the colder temperatures as an excuse to binge-watch Netflix while sipping on hot chocolate (or a glass of wine) under a throw blanket? But come January, staying indoors can feel less like a treat and more like you’re living in a cave.
Here’s how to make your house lighter, brighter, and cheerier with more natural light indoors.
#1 Take the Screens Off Your Windows
You’ll get 30 percent more sunlight shining indoors without screens on your windows. Here’s the best part: Sunlight warms your room and saves you money on your heating bill. Be sure to store your screens in your garage or basement where they won’t get damaged. In the spring you’ll want to put them back on so you can keep that 30 percent of the sun out and run your cooling system less.
#2 Hang Outdoor String Lights Indoors
They don’t give off a lot of light, but they’re cheerful as heck. Drape them around a window or a mantel, or hang a string of LED glimmer lights in a tall potted plant. They’ll add a layer of soft light to your room and remind you of fireflies, flip-flops and patio parties.
#3 Steal Swedish Chic
Scandinavians excel at making a home light and airy because they’ve got places where the sun doesn’t rise at all from November to January. And you thought you had it bad.
To adapt to weeks and weeks of polar night, Swedes keep interiors pale to reflect and amplify light. Think white walls, light woods for furniture and floors, and light upholstery. To get the look without getting rid of your dark furniture and floors, put white or light gray slipcovers on your sofa and chairs, and put down light-colored rugs. The fastest way to bring a little Sweden into your room is to paint it. Try creamy white, pale blue, or dove gray.
#4 Change Your Bulbs
Replace those incandescent bulbs and their yellowy light with LEDs, which produce a brighter, whiter light.
But get your bright right:
- The higher the K rating on the bulb, the cooler and whiter its light.
- For cool, white light, opt for a bulb rated 3,500K to 4,100K.
- For blue-white light that’s closest to natural daylight, use a bulb between 5,000K and 6,500K.
That said you may want to leave the uber-high K bulbs for grow rooms and seasonal affective disorder therapy clinics — because they’re as bright as real sunlight on a hot summer day at noon. You’ll need sunglasses to read.
#5 Hang Mirrors
Make the most of that weak winter light by bouncing it around the room with mirrors. If you don’t want the distraction of seeing your reflection all the time, use a large, convex one — also known as a fish-eye mirror. It will amplify light better than a flat one. Another option: Hang a gallery wall of small mirrors.
#6 Clean Your Windows
Dirty windows block a lot of natural light. Admit it, yours are kind of cruddy because who remembers to block out an afternoon to clean the windows? So, get it on your list. Clean the glass inside at least once a month and the glass outside once a year. Your serotonin level will thank you.
#7 Swap Your Solid Front Door for One With Glass Inserts
A solid front door can make your house look and feel as dark as a dungeon. Install a half-light or full-light door that lets the natural light stream in. For even more natural light, add glass sidelights and a glass transom.
The median cost of a new door is $2,000 for steel and $2,500 for fiberglass, before any extras, but a new door will add curb appeal. Curb appeal equals higher resale value. And coming home in the evening to the warm glow of light radiating out the glass panels in your front door is an instant mood lifter.
#8 Add A Skylight
It’s the ultimate way to bring more natural light into your house. A window only catches sun for a couple of hours a day, but a skylight lets in the sun all day.
An indoor view of the sky makes deepest January more tolerable. And feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin, light streaming from above, is liberating. A skylight, installed, can cost as much as $3,000. A cheaper alternative is a tubular skylight, which costs around $1,000.
The bottom line is get as much natural light as you can to brighten your interiors. Added benefits – adding natural light to a home can reduce energy costs by as much as 75 percent. Research has proven that natural lighting helps people be more productive, happier, healthier and calmer. Sounds like a win-win situation.
Suzette Fox is a local interior designer and real estate broker at RE/MAX First. Visit her website www.suzettefoxinteriors.com Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/suzettefoxinteriors/ and on Facebook at facebook.com/SuzetteFoxInteriorDesign
Make the most of that weak winter light by bouncing it around the room with mirrors. Courtesy image
Incorporate a Scandinavian style into your home. To adapt to weeks and weeks of polar night, Swedes keep interiors pale to reflect and amplify light. Courtesy image