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And so to winter, the darkest of all the seasons, casting brooding shadows and throwing lighting challenges in the pathways of homeowners far and wide. While no amount of design magic can turn a grey day into a sunny one, winter doesn't have to be dark, drab, or dull. Whether your rooms are big or small, light plays an essential role in the design. Making the most of the light within your interior spaces conquers the need for more fixtures, which reduces energy bills. Figuring out how you can brighten a dark and gloomy room is always a challenge when moving into a new space. It is especially true if your new place is void of large windows to allow in natural sunlight. Yes, a renovation can correct the issue, but knocking down walls or adding windows are thankfully not the only options.
Lighting is one of the most useful tools to have at your disposal, not least to functionally illuminate a room but to imbue it with the desired atmosphere. Creating more light is often about perception - it’s like magic, creating optical illusions by defining intentional focal points. In good design, we’re able to highlight and draw attention to the things we want to see and deflect our attention away from anything that we perceive as flaws. Most of us spend more time at home during the cold season, fortunately, we have some tips on how to decorate your home to transform it into a brighter abode. From window treatments, to home decor accessories like a statement rug, we’ve featured some of our favourite tricks below.
UNDERSTANDING NATURAL LIGHT
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Allow oodles of sunlight to invade your interior space! Winter or not deciding how to light a room should always be influenced by the available natural light. On a bright winter’s day, when the natural light is high and the tone crisp and slightly blue, the amount of staged lighting needed reduces. It may be true that natural winter light isn’t that cheerful in general, but there are many sunny days during this season. It’s essential you open your windows or at least open the curtains entirely during the winter days - the sunlight has a calming and positive effect on the mind and will make sure you feel fresh, healthy, and spirited.
Are you limited to the amount of sunlight coming into your home? Rather than trying to shake the room awake with dazzling spotlights and every lamp switched on, the aim should be to introduce gentle warmth and scattered, mellow lighting. To do this, use light sources at multiple levels to spread it through the full expanse of each room, from a ceiling’s pendant to floor and table lamps. The key is to not rely on just one or two sources of light but to have a medley.
MAKE USE OF MIRRORS
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Maximising the natural light that is coming your way is fundamental. A mirror is a designer's secret weapon; while many know that mirrors can magnify a small space, it's less common knowledge that they also brighten up a dark room. Use a stand-out mirror to amplify light, add drama, create stimulating reflections, and frame views. They harness any daylight possible (no matter how gloomy the sky is outside), so the bigger the mirror, the brighter the space.
Strategically placed mirrors on the walls in range of sunlight from your windows are where the sun will be hitting them for half the day. For example, a giant wall or floor mirror near a window can amplify natural lighting. It's like adding another window to the space. You could also incorporate a coffee or end table with a mirrored top. Mirrors reflect light instead of absorbing it, so they trick the eye into thinking the room is larger and brighter, depending on where they are placed. It’s astounding how the addition of a mirror can transform your home, resolving any interior dilemma instantly.
EMBRACE LIGHT COLOURS
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The most significant light value we perceive with the eye is along vertical surfaces — on walls, windows, and furniture. So if it’s brightness you seek, the first thing you should do is paint your walls and ceiling white. Every decor guide you read probably mentions this, but it’s true – white is the best solution to brighten a dark room. White sends light bouncing around your space, reflecting onto other surfaces and making the room look much bigger than it is. The best way to scatter light is by using lots of white because the non-hue doesn’t absorb any colour.
Feel that white is just too boring? Consider adding ornamental trims on the ceilings for added texture, or paint one side with a refreshing colour for some diversity. From soft greys to subtle taupes, there are a ton of colours to choose from; not only will this brighten up your space, but it's also the perfect canvas to decorate in any style. When you look around a room, as long as the walls feel bright, the space feels bright.
DON’T FORGET THE FLOORS
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Brighten your room by treating your bare floors to a light coloured rug. Not only will this add some comfort and texture to your floor, but it will also make your floor glow. A Persian Rug is the perfect way to add a little colour into your space; not only are they excellent statement pieces, but they also help expand and bring more light to the room. When selecting a colour for your rug, you can opt for white/ivory, yellow, or some warmer hue combinations. Dark hardwood or laminate floors are a beautiful and popular staple for contemporary homes - but they can drain a lot of light from some spaces, especially corridors without windows. For darker flooring, opt for a lighter-toned area rug. Runner Rugs in a lighter tone will break up this flooring to give you the best mix of richness and airiness. Patterned Rugs are ok too, though consider a light and bright colour scheme. And to help expand visual space, especially in a smaller living room, make sure the rug is larger.
When a space requires additional light, it’s best to choose light wood flooring to brighten the room. The lighter the floors, the brighter the room. As you can see, learning how to brighten your home can be a challenge but also fun and creative – you’re not just limited to adding mirrors and white paint to every surface!