7 Ways to Boost Natural Light—And Make Your Home Look Brighter

Hint: It can even make your house look bigger. 

There are some elements our homes simply can't have too much of: space, storage, sunlight. And while you can't increase the square footage of your home without taking on a major renovation, there are some easy decorating and cleaning tricks that can make your home look brighter. Incorporating some strategically placed mirrors, choosing the best wall paint, and finding the right window treatments can all help increase the natural sunlight in your home. One added bonus of bouncing more sunlight around a room: more light can actually make the space feel bigger. Try some of the tips below to make your home feel bigger and brighter—without the reno.

Optimize Your Mirror Placement

You've probably heard this design trick before: Add mirrors to a room to bounce the light. But for the best effect, you'll want to place the mirror across from the window, angled so that the natural light will be reflected towards the darkest area of the room. New, clean mirrors will reflect the most light, but even antique mirrors with patina will work.

Choose Shiny Surfaces

Similar to mirrors, glossy surfaces can help reflect light in a room. Stainless steel appliances and sleek white cabinets will make a kitchen feel brighter. In a living room, try adding some metallic or mirrored accents, especially on the shelves or tables positioned closest to the windows.

Wash Your Windows

It may sound obvious, but cleaner glass lets in more sunlight. If the sunlight is filtered through years of dust and grime, the room isn't going to look as bright. To get the best effect, you'll need to wash both sides of the window (and avoid washing them on a sunny day, which can leave streaks).

Lighten Up Your Window Treatments

Even if you pull them open every morning, those dark velvet drapes hanging beside your windows aren't going to help the room look brighter. In the spring and summer, swap out heavy curtains for light, airy ones. If privacy is a concern, pair a gauzy white curtain with blinds or a roller shade you can close at night.

Pick the Best Paint

Paint holds a lot of power in the design of a room—it can make it look cleaner, more relaxing, and yes, even brighter. And no surprise, when it comes to hue, cool shades of white and pastels will make the room look lighter. To make sure you've chosen the best color, leave paint splotches on the wall for at least 24 hours, so you can see how the color looks in the light throughout the day.

Where we often go wrong is when choosing the paint finish. Like mirrors and glossy surfaces, shinier paint will reflect more light. Opt for satin rather than flat wall paint, and choose semi-gloss or gloss for the molding and trim. But be careful: glossier paints will also show off any imperfections in the wall.

Avoid Dark Decor

Even if a room gets plenty of sunlight, lots of dark wood and heavy textiles will make it look darker. To lighten up the room without buying brand-new furniture, add white throw pillows to your forest green sofa or drape a light-colored throw blanket on your charcoal armchair.

Trim the Trees

If your living room or bedroom is darker than it was a few years ago, the trees, bushes, or vines outside may be to blame. Consider hiring a tree-trimming service. They will help cut back light-blocking branches, without harming the tree or making it look lopsided.

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