Let There Be Light! 5 tips to make your rooms brighter!
Updated: Oct 29, 2019
Have you ever walked into a house and immediately thought - “oh, wow, it’s so dark in here! How do people live like this?” What about the opposite - that feeling when you walk into a house or a room and you are taken in by the sunlight streaming through the window and an overall light and airy feeling. That second feeling is much better, isn’t it?
Living in a country like Israel, where there are more sunny days than cloudy days in most parts of the country, it should be easy to have a light-filled home. But, given that in some cities houses are built so close to each other, it is not always easy to get that natural light in every room. This is particularly when you are dealing with a small room with only one window such as a bedroom, or an office, or a playroom. Whatever the purpose of the room, there are a few simple tricks to make even the smallest, dingiest and darkest of rooms feel much brighter.
1. Direction Matters
The sun is the most natural source of light, so depending where the sun is in the sky and which direction your windows face, the light that comes into your room will change.
Don’t worry, you don't need to learn how to tell time with a sundial, here are the basics to keep in mind:
The sun rises in the east, meaning any rooms with windows facing east will receive the most sunlight in the morning. As the sun sets to the west, the western side of your home will get the warm afternoon glow, which is a different, softer, shade of light. Rooms that face south tend to be the brightest all day long with light that can sometimes be harsh, while those that have the northern exposure also have light throughout the day, but with more of a consistent tone that is neither too bright or too dull.
So, the first thing you need to consider when trying to maximize the light in a small room is which way does the window face. Depending on the purpose of the room, you can place the furniture in such a way that takes advantage of the light. Then, once you know how much or how little natural light to expect, you can consider how best to supplement that. For example, if the room is an office with a window facing west, you might want a strong desk lamp because you know that you will not have a lot of natural light for most of the day.
2. Choose your Colors Carefully
It can be tempting to go bold and paint a small room a very deep dark color for impact. That can work if it’s your teenager’s bedroom and s/he is going through a 'goth stage', but if you want a light and airy room, you need to stick to the lighter end of the color palette.
That is not to say that you must be boring and go with plain old white. There are tons of other light-colored options - pale blue, yellow, green, pink, the possibilities are endless. To say nothing of the light grays, off-white, and tan color families. You can also play with texture and even wallpaper if you want to make more of a statement or add visual interest to one accent wall.
3. Ditch the Heavy Furniture
If you moved to Israel from the USA, the UK, or Europe, you might be accustomed to heavier and darker furniture. That type of furniture, as beautiful as it is, doesn’t always work in Israeli homes with their smaller rooms. If you have a big open space with tons of light, then, by all means, keep your grandmother’s mahogany dining table and the breakfront you loved when you got married. But, when dealing with a small room with limited light, you need to go with light wood, white, or glass furniture whenever possible.
In addition, you can use mirrors creatively to make the space look bigger and lighter. Plus, a beautifully framed mirror makes an excellent conversation piece or accent to a room.
4. Sconces, Lamps, Chandeliers, Oh My...
Even a room with no windows at all can have beautiful lighting using the magic of light bulbs, light fixtures, table lamps, floor lamps, sconces, chandeliers...you get the point! There are a million different types of lighting, and you first need to decide what you want the overall atmosphere of the room to be while also keeping in mind the primary use of the room.
For example, if the room is an office, you might want a bright desk lamp directly over your work-space. Maybe you have a comfortable armchair in the corner that could use a lamp that lets off a slightly softer glow. And then some subtle overhead lighting just to keep the space brighter.
On the other-hand, a children’s playroom should have a lot of bright overhead lights and maybe with some interesting looking and playful fixtures. In this type of room, you need functional lighting; so that the rooms feels bright and cheerful and the kids can clearly see what they are playing with. You do not need “mood lighting” the way you might in a bedroom, as another example.
5. It's all a matter of taste
As with most things when it comes to designing your home, lighting is also a matter of taste. At the end of the day, you need to feel happy and at ease when you walk into each room of your home. So many homes in Israel have bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling and lighting fixtures are thought of as “finishing touches” that you may never actually get to. Don’t let that happen to you - just remember the following simple steps:
1. Determine the purpose of the room and the “feel” you want it to have (i.e. a cozy bedroom, a functional playroom, a professional office, etc.).
2. Consider the direction of the window and when the room will have light and plan furniture accordingly (i.e. don’t place your bed against an eastern-facing window if you don’t want to be woken up by the sun).
3. Choose light paint colors and furniture.
4. Use artificial lighting to supplement and enhance the natural light. Keep in mind when the room is most often used to help determine where you most need the artificial light. For example, if the room is an office that you use in the morning and you know there is no natural sunlight in the morning, you will want a strong lamp on the desk.
Lighting is the key
Lighting is one of the most essential aspects of every room and finding the best lighting to suit the function and feel of a room can be a daunting task. Sometimes, you may not even be aware that the reason a room ‘doesn’t work’ is due to unsuitable lighting.
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ABOUT Tamar Freudmann - Itzuv Pnim can help. I have been designing, renovating and remodeling living spaces for over eight years. Contact me today at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit my site for more information www.itzuvpnim.com