Snohomish County is known for the cool light of our many overcast days, and miles upon miles of deep green forests. Our Northern latitude gives us short winter days, leaving us with reduced natural daylight for part of the year. Yet, high on the wish list for many Northwest homeowners is a desire to learn how to brighten up a home with plenty of natural light.
How can you bring more light indoors and create a bright, livable home in the Pacific Northwest? At Vanderbeken Remodel, we have years of experience making kitchens and baths lighter, brighter, and more modern. Read on for some of our favorite design tips on how to brighten up your home.
Brighten Up Your Home by Adding Windows
Floor-to-ceiling windows are a popular way to maximize the light in Pacific Northwest homes. While they are most common in living rooms, adding a window wall to a bedroom or kitchen is an update that brings daylight further into the home. If replacing an entire wall with glass is not possible, look for smaller areas to tuck in a window. Narrow windows placed high on a wall are known as clerestory windows. They can be added over a master bathroom tub, placed above kitchen cabinets, or installed in bedrooms to increase daylight while maintaining privacy.
Using natural light to illuminate interiors and save on energy costs is a technique known as Daylighting. Architects design for daylighting with skylights or Solar Tubes, which are ideal for making a hallway, laundry, or bathroom as bright as day.
If you’re remodeling to add square footage, consider a sunroom or conservatory-inspired space with a section of glass ceiling. Look for opportunities to add clerestory windows or skylights during a renovation so your new rooms will be bathed in light.
Choose Light Colors and Glossy Finishes
Light paint colors are known for making spaces feel larger and brighter, so many people choose a white paint color to maximize the light in main living areas. It is important to choose carefully – the cool gray light of our area is easily reflected indoors, making spaces feel gloomy. Choose whites with warm or yellow undertones, and warm gray or beige when selecting a deeper neutral color. The undertones of warm colors are very subtle, but they are effective in offsetting the gray light created by cloud cover.
White walls are a great way to brighten interiors, bouncing light around so it penetrates farther into a space. Glossy surfaces also reflect light even if they are a darker color, so they contribute to spreading the light around. We can think of several ways to add shine on the interior surfaces of your home:
- Paint ceilings and woodwork with high-gloss paint
- Use wood flooring with a glossy finish
- Incorporate more polished tile surfaces into kitchen and bath renovations
- Use glass or metallic tile as a backsplash or accent
- Choose cabinetry with a high-gloss paint finish
A high-gloss finish adds glimmers of light that change as the day progresses, bringing a space to life. However, for large wall areas a matte or satin finish paint is best. Too much shine and polish can make a room feel clinical and cold, so we recommend balancing glossy and matte finishes in a room.
Brighten Up Your Home with Improved Interior Lighting
Designing good lighting for your home’s interiors has never been easier. With LED bulbs and connected Smart Home apps, you can program lighting to turn on at dusk in every room of the home. Add programmable LED bulbs to your existing table lamps, chandeliers and ceiling fixtures for an instant design upgrade. Pay attention to areas where light from windows cannot reach, like hallways, stairwells and corners. Lighting designers use indirect lighting to help illuminate the walls and ceiling, and eliminate dark spots:
- Place a torchere lamp in a corner, directing light upwards to reflect off the ceiling
- Add a table lamp that turns on at dusk to the foyer or entry area
- Add wall lights to the foyer or along the stairway wall
- Install lighting around tray ceilings or above crown molding, with a dimmer
- Upgrade ceiling lights from single bulb fixtures to styles with two or three bulbs
- Choose chandeliers with crystal elements to reflect light around the room
- Install under-cabinet lighting on kitchen cabinets for brightly lit work areas
- Add ceiling spotlights over traffic areas in the great room and kitchen
- Use table lamps on the dining room buffet when the chandelier is off
Modern LED bulbs offer different color temperatures too, so be sure to choose warm white or daylight bulbs. Warm lighting can enhance natural light and help to counteract the gray days.
Lighten Up and Declutter
The first step in brightening an interior is to maximize the available natural light. In rooms where you need privacy, choose window shades that fold up off the window. Use longer curtain rods so curtains can stack onto the wall when they’re open, leaving the glass clear. Take down blinds and curtains where you do not need privacy to increase the daylight flooding into the home.
Next, reduce visual clutter to make rooms feel calmer and lighter. Organize the bookshelves, hide the cords and cables, and add cabinet storage for items like office supplies and toys. Consider rearranging the furniture to keep windows as clear as possible. Put the sofa or bed opposite the window, not beneath it. Remove bulky furniture – a tall armoire in a dark color can make a room feel darker.
Living with less furniture makes a home feel more spacious and allows light to move more easily between rooms. Of course, storage is always a concern. If you are renovating, your new kitchen and bath cabinetry will be designed to meet your specific storage needs. Custom cabinets and closet systems make your home far more efficient in terms of storage and livability. If you want to declutter and brighten your interiors, we recommend re-designing storage areas throughout your home. Consider a master suite renovation, with custom closets and bespoke bath cabinetry.
Brighten Up Your Home with Metallics and Mirrors
Polished surfaces help make the most of natural light from windows. Brass cabinet hardware adds glimmer to a kitchen or bathroom. Gold or silver picture frames and accessories create subtle reflections. Details like silver nail heads bring a little shine to upholstered furniture. Clear glass or acrylic tables have high-gloss surfaces, and they are transparent for an uncluttered look.
Mirrors are a well-known designer trick for amplifying the light – if they are placed carefully. Hang a large mirror directly opposite your main windows or add a collection of small mirrors to an accent wall. Bring in mirrored furniture to add even more sparkle. Look for mirrored lamp bases to add reflection even when the lights are off.
Color Brightens Up Spaces in New Ways
Creating bright, light-filled rooms does not mean you have to avoid color. Light-colored walls are the perfect backdrop for colorful collections. Use art and decor to distribute pops of color throughout the space. Display bold pottery on open kitchen shelving or mix it into a bookshelf wall. Choose a single large painting for a minimalist effect, or create a gallery wall of lively local art. Abstract art can create a big splash of color; landscape and seascape paintings are a great way to bring the outdoors in. A rug can add visual interest and anchor the room; choose a graphic pattern in neutral tones or go bold with color. Then pull it all together with unique accent pillows.
Brighten Your Snohomish County Home
If you are dreaming of bright, uncluttered rooms, our remodeling team is here to help. We are experts in designing and building beautiful kitchens, bathrooms, whole home remodels and additions. We have long-term relationships with Snohomish County’s top tradespeople, and our team handles everything from start to finish, so you can relax and enjoy your remodeled home.