Winter days are shorter which means less sunlight finding its way inside your home. Winter is a great time to discover new ways to add much-needed light to dark interiors. Here’s how to make a home cozy on a budget and brighten up your indoor space!
Why should I increase the amount of natural light in my home?
There are several benefits to natural light including:
Natural Light Helps Prevent SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
SAD is a type of depression that occurs in some when the seasons change, usually occurring in autumn and winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder is linked to a disruption of a patient’s circadian rhythm. People with SAD also experience a decrease in melatonin and serotonin levels. A patient exposed to natural light usually sees improvement.
Natural Light Gives You More Energy
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our sleep cycle and makes us sleepy at night. Receiving the right amount of natural light will help reset your internal clock to nature’s day-to-night schedule, which creates a healthy circadian rhythm for a better night’s sleep, and more energy throughout the day.
Natural Light Improves Sleep
Our sleep cycle tells our body when to sleep and when to wake, and is triggered by morning light and evening darkness. Too much light or too much darkness can throw off our internal clock, which interferes with a restful night’s sleep. According to a study, individuals who experience increased natural light slept for a longer period and enjoyed a more restful sleep.
How can I get more light inside my home?
Open the Curtains
Keeping your windows clean will allow the maximum amount of light to shine through window panes. Boost your indoor lighting by opening the curtains during the day. Open window coverings will allow warm, bright sunlight into a room. This works especially well in a south or west-facing window. On overcast days, even a little filtered light can lighten a room and brighten your mood.
If you must keep curtains closed for privacy, switch them out to sheers or fabric in a lighter shade. Close curtains in the evening to hold the warmth inside and save on energy bills.
Cost: Free, or the price of new window coverings
Clear the Windows
Do you have a bookshelf, large indoor plant, or table in front of a window? It’s probably blocking the natural light. Move furniture and accessories away from windows to let in sunlight. Outdoor landscaping that hides a window prevents sunlight from reaching the inside. Trim shrubs and plantings in front of windows. If needed, dig up greenery and toss.
Time: From 30 minutes to two hours.
Lighten Up Rooms with a New Coat of Paint
Are your walls a mid-tone or a dark shade? One of the best ways to lighten a space is to paint the walls white or a light color. Another option is to install a light-toned wallpaper. A botanical print will add natural interest and a touch of spring to a room. Paint your interior window frames white for the most reflected light.
Time: 8 to 10 hours
Cost: Depends on the price of paint, wallpaper, paintbrushes, and needed supplies
Lighten Indoor Fabrics and Furniture
Is your couch fabric a dark print? Is your furniture in dark wood tones? Switch out dark fabrics and furniture to lighter shades with a light-colored slipcover for couches and armchairs. Add light and bright accent pillows. Cover dark wood tabletops with a white or light-toned tablecloth or runner.
Time: 2 hours or less
Cost: Depends on the cost of slipcovers, accent pillows, and soft goods.
Swap Light Bulbs
Your indoor lighting may need a boost during the cold months of the year. Check the light bulb package for the lumen rating. Lumens measure how much light you’ll receive from a bulb. More lumens mean brighter light; fewer lumens means less light. A simple bulb switch in a table lamp or ceiling light can brighten up your interiors.
Time: Less than one hour
Cost: Depends on bulb cost and the number of bulbs replaced
Add Fresh Flowers and Greenery
Fresh flowers from the florist are reminders of spring and add life and beauty. An indoor flowering plant will bring the outdoors inside and add fresh color to a kitchen, living room – any dreary interior.
Time: Shopping time
Cost: Twenty to fifty dollars, depending on the plant
Add Brightly Colored Accessories
Brightly colored wall art, table accessories, and rugs add a pop of color to a room. A light-colored floor rug not only reflects light, but it keeps your toes warm on cold, winter days.
Time: Shopping time
Add Metallic Accessories
Silver, bronze, and gold accents reflect the light and add brightness to an interior space. A gold picture frame, chrome bookends, or a glass coffee table with gold highlights can make a room feel brighter.
Cost: Varies by accessory
Declutter Your Rooms
General clutter, such as papers, empty boxes, or sacks waiting for Goodwill make for a messy room. Take a few minutes to organize your space and toss out items you no longer need. You’ll be surprised how ‘lighter’ a room will feel without all the clutter.
Time: One to two hours
Light a Candle
Candles add warmth and much-needed light to a room. Light candles on the fireplace mantle to brighten a dark, cold evening. Or, choose battery-operated candles for safety.
Cost: Depends on the candle type and the number of candles, or free
Add a Mirror
Display a mirror on a wall adjacent to or opposite a window to bounce natural light about the room.
Cost: Varies by mirror design
Consider Making Structural Changes
If your home is dark inside year-round, consider a remodel. Although costly, adding new windows, a sliding glass door, or a skylight will brighten the space allowing the sunshine in.
Time: A week to several months
Cost: Varies by structural change, your current home layout, and your region.