Let There Be Light: Sun-Maximizing Tips for Your Space

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on February 17, 2021

A bright, light room seems to fill us with energy, invigoration, and inspiration, making it no secret that “more natural light” is on nearly every homebuyer and renter’s wishlist. But even if your current digs seem shadowy or shrouded in darkness, there are quick, simple fixes (plus a few larger projects) that’ll have you saluting the sun in no time. 

Better illuminate your space with these tips and clever design secrets to creating the illusion of brightness. Let there be light!

Unblock the Sun

Step one to brightening your home? Remove anything currently hindering light coming in from the sources you do have, such as furniture and décor. If your sofa or chair backs up to a window, rearrange the furniture about the room. If you have a smaller space where this isn’t possible, even pulling the piece a few inches away from the window allows more light to pour in and create a sense of space. Outside, trim back bushes, hedges, and plants encroaching upon your sunlight, and prune any overgrown trees. 

Back inside, swap heavy drapes for sheer curtains that allow the light in while still offering privacy. Forego blinds entirely, or replace them with a pull-down option to maximize your sunshine source. Be sure to wash window glass regularly—dust and grime build up quickly and can filter out more light than you’d think.

Mirror, Mirror

Mirrors work double-duty in the home. Not only do they create the illusion of a larger space, they reflect light back around the room for a brighter look and feel. Hang up a couple of ornate pieces in your gallery wall, tack up a gilded rectangle mirror over the mantle, or lean a standing full-length mirror up against the wall. Placing the mirror opposite from your main light source or window can almost double the amount of light in your space while bouncing sunshine into even the shadowiest of corners.

Pause and Reflect

Mirrors aren’t the only décor pieces that brighten up a space. Lighter, more reflective furniture allows sunlight to flow around the room easier—think lucite, glass, silver and gold metallics, and lacquered materials. Even white painted furniture can maximize sunshine.

If you have darker wood floors, white and light-colored rugs create the illusion of brightness without weighing the space down.

black and white glam dining room

Go for Glass

When selecting a front, side, or back door for your home, look for options fit with windows or glass. Even frosted glass can let the light in while offering more privacy from nosey neighbors. If you have a window in the bathroom hiding behind the shower, swap a dark shower curtain for a lighter color—or take on the larger project of replacing it all together with a glass door. 

Lighten Up

Room colors go a long way where light is concerned. Select paint in brighter shades of white and cream—especially on the ceiling (bonus: it can make your space seem bigger and taller, as well). Glossy and satin finishes also help to reflect more light about your space. Limit darker colors to an accent wall or let them pop in smaller pieces of décor and art.

Not a fan of the all-white look? No problem. Opt for lighter grays and light, warm browns for the illusion of a brightened space.

Fake It 'Til You Make It

When the sun sets or slips behind a cloud on a rainy day, or you just don’t have the luxury of many windows, good interior lighting is key. Don’t rely solely on overhead lighting as it can cause dramatic and disproportionate shadows. Add table lamps to your nightstand, floor lamps in particularly shadowed corners, and a line of sconces down a dark hallway. 

Select lighter-colored and more sheer, white lampshades to maximize light flow, or go for glass. Pop in a vintage bulb for a more golden glow. Salt rock lamps and a row of LED candles are other light sources that can create a relaxing vibe when sun rays are in short supply.


Take on a Bigger Project

If you’re looking to really let in the light to your forever home, consider taking on a larger project for a more permanent solution. If you’re feeling brave, adding skylights lets pure sunshine filter into even the darkest of spaces—including interior walk-in closets, bathrooms, and bedrooms—while maintaining privacy. 

Removing non-weight bearing walls between common rooms like the kitchen and living room lets light travel deeper into your home while opening up your floor plan to boot. Recessed lighting is another great option for shadowy spaces.

Need help illuminating your space? Our interior designers are masters of maximizing light, and our style quiz might reveal some bright ideas. 

Words by Avery Johnson