Did you know that you actually feel better when you look at the right kind of light?
It’s not just that we associate light with carefree summer days, nor is the effect limited to people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder – light activates a chemical in the eyes that can boost anybody’s mood. This makes it one of the single most important elements to bring into your home. Theming your home around light and really making the most of it will help you to create a space that enhances your mood year round and is always aesthetically pleasing.
Celebrate the light you have
The first thing to think about when decorating a room is how it aligns with the points of the compass. If you have a south facing room (in the northern hemisphere) with nothing getting in the way of the windows, you’ll have no difficulty flooding it with light. If it’s north facing, you’ll get a softer light which will nevertheless last all day, and which will work best with muted colours.
If your windows face east, you should plan to make the most of bright morning light, and if they face west, you can work with the evening light. The former is enhanced by plain white walls or light, warm tones; the latter can work well with pinks and mauves or look brilliant on red or orange tones or gold highlights. Whatever colours you choose, always paint the ceiling in a lighter shade as this will draw the eye upwards and make a room look bigger and brighter.
Make more of natural light
In the average home, a lot of natural light is lost because people unthinkingly arrange furniture in a way that blocks it, or close off part of their windows, even in the daytime, by hanging heavy curtains alongside them. Choosing curtain alternatives like shutters or blinds that can be drawn right back allows light to flow into a room uninterrupted.
If the wall opposite is light coloured or has mirrors hanging on it, the light will bounce around and filter through the rooms more effectively. Use mirrors strategically to move light along hallways and other internal spaces that may not get much direct light. You can also bounce light in different directions using glass or crystal ornaments on mantels, shelves and tables, or the pendulum crystals hanging down from chandeliers. Varnished wooden floors, ceramic or stone tiles also reflect light and make spaces feel airier. If you have your heart set on carpet, stick to pale colours.
Get smart with LED lighting
What about at night when there’s no natural light to enjoy? There are lots of ways you might choose to illuminate your home, but no past technology has come close to the potential of LED lighting. Not only is it environmentally friendly – bulbs may cost a little more, but they can last as long as 15 years – but it allows you to adjust the tone of light to suit your mood or to help you maintain a healthy body rhythm. Blue-tinted light on dark winter mornings will help you to wake up and feel more alert as the day begins. Softer, pink-toned light in the evening will help you to relax and feel ready for sleep. If you’re feeling down, a golden tone will help to improve your mood, and it can also make a room feel warmer and more welcoming in cold weather.
Make dark rooms look brighter
When painting or papering dark rooms, some people make the mistake of thinking that gloss will brighten them up by reflecting more light. In fact, matte tons are more effective because they create a more even diffuse light. Using metallics for highlights or choosing a metallic-veined wallpaper adds a brighter touch without overwhelming the space.
Metallic paint on furniture can be particularly effective because you can position it where it naturally catches what light there is, or where it’s warmed by the glow of a lamp, to create a feeling like that of being underneath a tree on a sunny day – when you’re continually aware of the light and the shade feels cool and comfortable rather than depressing.
Once you have your new décor in place, bear in mind that keeping your rooms clean and free of clutter will do a lot to enhance its effectiveness. You can also trick people into thinking a space is brighter by bringing in plants, which instantly give the impression of freshness and a connection with the outdoor world. Between them, these tricks can give you a home that looks luminous – a home you’re guaranteed to love.