How To Maximize The Natural Light In Your Home

Sunlight can make you feel happier and increase your vitamin D intake. Plus, it creates a welcoming atmosphere for guests. Getting enough natural light can be tricky with fewer windows or open spaces, though – so here are a few ideas to bring in more natural light.f

1. Paint With Light Colors

Colors either absorb or reflect light. So, use hues such as white, gray, or tan to lighten up the room. Remember: you can add pops of color through throw pillows, artwork, or rugs. Also, add these colors to your ceiling to make the space feel taller.

In addition, consider the type of paint. For example, use shinier ones like satin or semi-gloss. This can reflect light while adding a sense of personality.

2. Hang Mirrors

Mirrors reflect sunlight while making the space feel larger. This is especially useful for people who live in apartments. Plus, with more natural light bouncing around the walls, the room can feel more relaxing. It might even increase energy levels and reduce feelings of depression.

Also, use other reflective materials in your design. This can include things like glass furniture and metallic lighting or faucets.

3. Enlarge Windows and Doors

If you want to update your windows or doors, this tip fits perfectly. Having larger windows and doors lets in more light and makes a space feel welcoming. It can give off an open and airy vibe.

Look for casements with minimal framework. Picture, bow, or bay windows work best. Plus, larger windows increase ventilation and improve indoor air quality. For your doors, upgrade to a patio or garden-style one.

4. Add Glass Blocks to Your Walls

This is a distinctive design idea that adds character to your home. The glass will reflect light and give you a brighter space. These work well in high-traffic areas, such as kitchens or living rooms.

Another good place for glass is in your basement, which may not have many windows. You can choose from different textures and colors to fit your design style.

5. Keep Up With Window Maintenance

This is a simple task that ensures dirt build-up isn’t blocking light. Rinse your windows with water and dish soap using a microfiber cloth. If you have higher casements, use a sponge mop on a pole. Make sure to spray down the outside of the window with a hose.

Also, while outdoors, trim back your trees so light can shine through on a sunny day. In addition, plant some low-growing perennials to increase curb appeal.

6. Use Lighter Window Treatments

Your heavier drapes may be good for winter. However, lighter materials can let in more sun as the weather warms. Look for sheer curtains in a single panel. Blinds are another excellent option that allows you to control the amount of light.

Solar screens are also perfect for softening sunlight. These can also protect your furniture and carpets from harmful UV radiation.

7. Add Skylights

Skylights can bring in natural light and are an excellent project to add to a home renovation. They are available in various sizes and layouts. Skylights work well in kitchens or bathrooms, which require ample lighting. Plus, they give you a nice view of the sky.

Be sure to hire a professional to install these. Since it cuts into your roof, improper installation could lead to leaks. Once installed, you can enjoy natural light and reduce your electricity bills.

8. Use Reflective Materials for Your Backsplash

Backsplashes are a staple in modern kitchens. If you’re looking to make an update, consider using reflective materials like glass. They give your space a sleek appearance and allow for plenty of natural light.

Consider using recycled glass tiles, too, which are better for the environment. Plus, they are more stain- and mold-resistant, so your kitchen can stay clean. Metal backsplashes, such as stainless steel, are also common. These are durable and easy to maintain.

9. Paint Your Eaves White

The overhangs from your roof can impact how much light is reflected inside. So, painting them white increases their reflective properties. The project doesn’t require major renovations and is a cost-effective solution. Just have someone watch the ladder when you’re working.

Even if you have a differently colored exterior, still consider this project. You usually can’t see the eaves much from the outside, so it won’t impact your curb appeal.

10. Be Smart About Furniture Colors and Layout

If you don’t have many windows, or just have smaller ones, find ways to maximize your existing light. For example, play with the furniture layout. Turn couches towards the windows to reflect light around the rest of the room.

You can also place chairs and shelves in a way that complements the windows rather than blocks them. Then, try to explore lighter colors throughout the decor, including white and shades of gray.

Make Your Home Brighter

Home remodeling and rearranging are great ways to increase a room’s functionality and design. Adding more natural light is a beneficial upgrade for your well-being, so follow these tips to brighten up your space today.

Author

 Evelyn Long is a Baltimore-based writer and the editor-in-chief of Renovated. She publishes home decor advice and product roundups for readers in spaces both big and small.

Spring Cleaning – The Kitchen

Walls and Appliances: When grease splatters or cake batter flies, you probably wipe it off in the moment, but you might not catch all of the grime that ends up covering your walls and appliances. Spring cleaning is the time to get rid of that caked-on dirt and grease. Spray all of your walls and appliances with an all-purpose cleaner and/or de-greaser and scrub them clean with a towel or sponge. Afterwards, rinse thoroughly to avoid leaving any sticky soap residue on the walls that could attract even more dirt and dust.

Kitchen Wall Hangings: This includes your kitchen clock and could extend to a hanging pot rack or even a spice rack or even a phone if you’ve got one mounted. Basically, anything that’s hanging on your walls or ceiling needs to come down for a thorough cleaning because nothing is safe from grease and dirt in the kitchen.

Oven: If you have a self-cleaning oven, run it now and wipe it down thoroughly when through (waiting several hours for the oven to cool down). One tip for self-cleaning ovens is to remove the temperature knobs because they tend to heat up and could melt. For regular ovens, follow your manufacturer’s instructions and/or the instructions on the oven cleaner you purchase. Always open any available windows and turn on vents when cleaning your oven to avoid fume contamination.

Refrigerator – Inside and Out: Throw out any expired food, empty jars, and other half-used products that are taking up space. Take out the refrigerator shelves and drawers. Wash them down, being careful with glass shelves. Wipe down the entire inside of the refrigerator and freezer before replacing shelves and food. Vacuum the coils of your unplugged refrigerator and wipe the outside completely, not forgetting the door handle (usually the filthiest part of the fridge!). If you can, ask someone to help you move the refrigerator to sweep and mop underneath it.

Stovetop:
Remove the knobs, burners, burner covers and spill catchers off the stovetop and either wash by hand or put into the dishwasher to clean and sanitize. Use a gentle abrasive and/or hot soapy water to thoroughly scrub the top of your stove. Use a crevice tool from your vacuum cleaner to remove crumbs or dirt from the cracks between your oven and the wall or counters.

Microwave: Wipe down and clean the microwave, washing the turntable by hand or putting it into the dishwasher. If the spills in the microwave are old or burnt in, boil a glass of water in the microwave. The steam should help loosen the crud. If the microwave smells, boil lemon juice to help freshen it up. Use glass cleaner on the outside surfaces and soapy water or all-purpose cleaner on the inside.

Kitchen Cabinets:Remove everything and wash the shelves, relining if necessary. Remove mismatched lids and bowls. Take out anything that isn’t being used on a regular basis. Reorganize and outsides of cabinets last.

Dishwasher:Try adding vinegar or baking soda to the empty dishwasher before running it. If your dishwasher has a food trap in the bottom, clean it out. Wash down the outside of the dishwasher.

Countertops: Don’t forget backsplashes.

Drawers: Remove everything and wipe the insides. This is a great time to tackle your “junk” drawer. If it’s really junk, throw it out. Remove utensils or cutlery that you don’t use and take the opportunity to re-organize and prioritize your kitchen items if you don’t feel they’re arranged in the most efficient manner possible.

Sink and Garbage Disposal: If you have a garbage disposal, now is the time to pour baking soda with warm water and/or a lemon peel down the disposal to freshen the drain. Put ice cubes through the disposal to sharpen the blades.

Going Green – Reinsulation

Homeowners seeking to pad their homes and wallets should consider re-insulation projects that maximize energy efficiency year-round. Simple, energy-saving practices will not only reduce heating and cooling bills every month, but also will result in a higher tax return next year.

The federal government expanded the scope of a tax credit program that rewards homeowners for energy-efficiency improvements, giving homeowners a prime opportunity to increase their homes’ efficiency. Homeowners are eligible to receive a 30 percent federal tax credit up to $1,500 for weatherization improvements in their homes through Dec. 31, 2010. And as far as energy-efficient improvements are concerned, re-insulation is a smart solution for the near and short term.

“Most of the steps you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency in the cooler winter months are equally as effective in the warmer summer months, when the thermal flows are simply reversed,” said Bohdan Boyko, building science manager with GreenFiber, a natural-fiber insulation company. In most areas of the country, he notes, winter has the greatest temperature differences between inside and outside temperatures, but in either situation — summer or winter — a properly insulated home is one that will help cut energy bills, lower the home’s carbon footprint and help keep a family comfortable.

Homeowners can find information on the benefits of re-insulation, including R-Value education, how to’s and tax credit information from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, at http://www.greenfiber.com.

Older homes or homes where current insulation is inadequate can benefit from attic air sealing, duct sealing, attic insulating and side wall insulating. Because the insulation is literally “blown in” through a tube, it can reach high crevices and deep places in walls.

Whatever insulation you choose, re-insulation is one of the best ways to reduce your home’s energy use.