Our homes never look better than when sunlight’s streaming in — and that’s because natural daylight improves our wellbeing and lifts our mood while making rooms feel more spacious and welcoming as well as much brighter.
It’s a must-have for many buyers, and you’ll be able to keep electricity bills down by utilising natural rather than artificial light.
Whether you’re planning a renovation project or after a quick fix, here's how to boost light levels so you’ll never be left in the dark.
1. Give your windows the all-clear
Unruly greenery growing over windows can seriously restrict light, so cut back any plants and shrubs that are obscuring the glass.
Once done, clean them inside and out.
"Although this doesn’t typically sit as a priority, you’d be surprised how much brighter clean windows can make your room look," says Yvonne Keal, senior product manager at Hillarys.
2. Fit a skylight or lantern
Set into a pitched or sloping roof, skylights or rooflights bring in up to twice as much light as vertical windows, and are often integrated into extensions and loft conversions.
Fixed skylights are the most cost-effective, whereas hinged or pivoted versions open for ventilation and can be manually or remote controlled.
You can also add architectural interest to a flat roof with a multi-faceted, light and height-enhancing lantern positioned above a kitchen island or dining table.
3. Swap windows and doors
By replacing old patio doors and windows with minimalist designs incorporating large expanses of glass and minimal glazing bars, you’ll not only let tons more light inside but will banish draughts and cut running costs as they have to comply with the strict energy efficiency requirements.
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French doors are ideal for a straight swap, but if you have more space to play with — perhaps when building an extension or widening an existing aperture — full height sliding doors or bifolds that slide along a track and fold back at the sides substantially boost natural light.
"Consider the orientation of your home when placing doors and windows. South-facing openings tend to receive more sunlight throughout the day," advises Oliver Creevy, co-founder and managing director of Insulation Advisor UK.
4. Open up the interior
Natural light wasn’t a priority in Victorian terraces, which were often designed with a living room at the front, a kitchen at the back and a dark, compact dining room sandwiched in between.
If your home has a similar layout, consider knocking down one or more of the dining room walls — fitting a steel beam above the new opening for structural support if loadbearing — to create a multi-purpose open plan room.
You’ll lose storage space but will gain a significant amount of light. Glazed internal doors provide ultimate flexibility as you can close them for peace and quiet without restricting light.
5. Install a sun tunnel
Sun tunnels — also known as sun pipes or solar tubes — project daylight into areas starved of natural light.
"These are a cost effective alternative to roof windows or skylights in narrow places where they cannot be installed, such as corridors, stairwells and cupboards," explains Tabitha Cumming, property expert at The Lease Extension Company.
"However, unlike skylights, you will be unable to see the sky through them."
They work by collecting sunlight in a discreet roof-mounted panel and channelling it into the ceiling — which must be within six metres of the roof — via a reflective tunnel.
6. Rethink window treatments
Keep windows unencumbered to improve the quality and quantity of light.
Move any furniture away from blocking the glass and make sure curtain poles are wide enough to allow the drapes to sit neatly at the sides.
Switch bulky fabrics like velvet for lightweight cotton and linen — with blackout linings if needed — and fit roller or Roman blinds that sit above the top of the window so the glass is fully exposed.
When privacy’s a concern, go for sheer voile panels that filter the light, or Venetian blinds or shutters with adjustable slats.
7. Adopt design tricks
Pale shades and reflective surfaces help to bounce light around the room.
"More light will bounce off a wall painted with a high gloss paint than a wall painted with matte paint, even if it's the same shade," says Ryan McDonough, interior design expert at Myjobquote.co.uk.
Choose high-gloss units in a gloomy kitchen, glazed tiles and shiny accessories, and make the most of mirrors.
"Hang a large mirror opposite a standard window to instantly maximise the brightness of your interiors," recommends Sarah Hastings, digital and marketing manager at Roof Windows 4 You.
"Alternatively, if you have a skylight, propping up a long floor mirror at a slight angle might be the best way to capture and reflect as much light around the room as possible."