Bright Ideas: How to Bring More Light Into Your Space
Adding light to our interiors has been a fixation since we were cave dwellers. Whether you are lacking in windows, have a north/south facing home, an abundant tree canopy, or simply want to maximize the waning light during the winter months, we tapped four Scouted experts for their tips on boosting the illumination in even the darkest corners of your abode. To find a Scouted interior expert in your area, consult The Scout Guide Directory.
Lighten up. Lindy Collins, interior designer at L. Collins Interiors in Tulsa, Oklahoma, suggests leaning toward lighter colors to amplify natural light. “By selecting furnishings and fabrics in light colors, as well as sheer curtains or woven shades, you can achieve a brighter look without having to make any architectural adjustments.” She adds that light-colored flooring, whether wood or tile, can help tremendously, as flooring tends to reflect light throughout a space.
Lean into layering. According to Brandy Long, studio director of MHK Architecture in Highlands, North Carolina, adding layers of natural and artificial lighting is imperative to make sure your space has the depth and dimension needed to create the comfortable, beautiful interiors we all desire. She urges clients to consider the room’s unique function, as that can change the approach to lighting. In addition to natural light, including ambient, accent, and task lighting will cover all of your bases.
Focus on finish. When it comes to amplifying natural light there are a few trade secrets that you can utilize. Rosario Mannino, owner and principal architect of RS Mannino Architects + Builders in Rutherford, New Jersey, is especially fond of using high gloss paint and lacquer finishes. He explains that by adding a high gloss paint, especially to ceilings, and a high lacquer finish to millwork, you will not only reflect natural light but also add a special moment, highlighting the architecture of a home.
Surfaces matter. Beyond the walls, it’s also important to consider the other surfaces within your home. Collins urges clients to opt for polished tiles and countertops, as opposed to matte or honed, as these types of surfaces will provide a nice reflection, thereby increasing the amount of light in the space.
More windows. If your budget allows, adding additional windows is your best bet for increasing natural light. Before you embark on this costly endeavor, Brent Hull, owner and founder of Hull Works in Fort Worth, Texas, encourages homeowners to work with an expert to determine what would be appropriate with the architectural style of your home. “I always recommended clients pay attention to window sizes and divided light panes, especially for historical properties. The general rule is small windows in cottages, larger windows in country homes,” he explains. While additional windows are a good idea, their proportion and how they are organized is paramount in creating a design that makes sense.
Consider your doors. If you own an apartment or other domicile that you are unable to alter the exterior facade for historical or zoning purposes, Mannino suggests adding transom windows above your interior doors or enlarging your doorways. “It’s all about natural-balanced light,” he explains. “Adding a transom or extending the opening of your doorway will allow the natural light to flow further into adjacent rooms.”
Put an emphasis on mirrors. “Mirrors are such an important tool for increasing natural light,” Collins shares. She advises placing a mirror directly across from a light source, whether it be natural or artificial, in order to increase the amount of reflection. While larger mirrors are obviously preferable, if you are lacking in wall space a small mirror can be just as useful. “I love using a small convex mirror, as an accent piece,” she says. “The convex nature of the mirror is particularly effective at spreading light in a room.”
TSG Tip 465 from Lindy Collins, interior designer at L. Collins Interiors in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Brandy Long, studio director of MHK Architecture in Highlands, North Carolina; Rosario Mannino, owner and principal architect of RS Mannino Architects + Builders in Rutherford, New Jersey; and Brent Hull, owner and founder of Hull Works in Fort Worth, Texas. L. Collins Interiors appears in The Scout Guide Tulsa. MHK Architecture appears in The Scout Guide Asheville + Western North Carolina. RS Mannino Architects + Builders appears in The Scout Guide Bergen County. Hull Works appears in The Scout Guide Fort Worth.