“You can instantly improve the feel of a room by maximising the light,” says interior designer Chrissie Rucker, founder of The White Company. “If you can’t let in more natural sunlight, you could choose a stunning chandelier with glass droplets that will catch the light and sparkle.”
Simply adding table lamps, to create soft pools of light around a room, large mirrors, or choosing reflective furniture made in mirrored or white glass, can also work magic. Follow our guide to ‘lighting up’ at home and minimising the effect of gloomy days.
n Wicked windows
Hanging voiles or sheer curtains is a great way of making a room feel light and airy, and if light itself is an issue, put a blackout or plain blind behind the sheer. Nowadays, blinds come in a wide variety of designs to suit taste and light level requirements. An economic choice is using adhesive window film to block out a poor view without reducing light.
n Playing with light
Even a simple lighting scheme can have a dramatic effect, and well-lit rooms will always look attractive. “We respond to light in an emotional way,” says Lucy Martin, author of new book, The Lighting Bible. “Some forms of lighting make you feel comfortable and cosy - for instance, lamp light in a living room - or active and vibrant, as in a brightly-lit kitchen.”
:: Keep it white
Dark wood furniture can dominate a room and make it feel smaller, as well as darker. Glass or transparent polycarbonate furniture can almost seem to float in a space, and is now so popular there are many ranges which are available and affordable from high street stores. A clever way to bounce light around a kitchen is re-painting units with High Gloss kitchen cupboard paint, which has a lacquer effect.
n Switched on
Gardens can become virtually invisible in the winter months, if all you see when you look out of the window in the evenings is a black space. But outdoor lighting can transform a space, says Sally Storey, design director at John Cullen Lighting.
“A little lighting goes a long way, so use it selectively, and remember that darkness can also be used to great effect - to conceal any less attractive areas,” she says. “The key to successful garden lighting is flexibility and spiked fittings, which can be easily moved to suit the changing seasons and plant growth.”
n Open & shut case
Heavy curtains are effective for conserving warmth and helping to minimise draughts, but if they’re dark coloured and overlap a window frame, even when drawn back, they’ll reduce light in a room. “Shutters are a chic yet simple solution to so many different window screening issues, not least of which is the need to have privacy without
losing light,” says Nick Garratt, director of The New England Shutter Company. “This is a common problem at ground level, especially where windows overlook the street. But custom-made Cafe-style shutters provide a single tier with adjustable blades. So a window’s screened at eye level while daylight pours in from above.”
:: Bring the outdoors in
Opening up the back of a house and fitting folding glass doors is an effective and increasingly popular way of blurring the boundary between the indoors and outdoors. These doors allow an uninterrupted view of a garden and crucially, can improve light levels in a ground floor room.
n Floor show
“Flooring is the finishing touch when it comes to redecorating a room. However, it should be considered before decorating, as it’s key in affecting the look of a room. For example, a light or pale coloured floor can work wonders in making a dark room appear lighter,” says Garratt.