How to Make Your Home Seem as If It Has More Natural Light Than It Actually Does
Ask any interior designer and they'll tell you the same: Windows that allow for plenty of natural light are the key to creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere in a home. "Everyone loves natural light—in fact, we're biologically built to need it," says Jenny Madden of Jenny Madden Design. "We're also built to thrive off of connections, so larger windows that let in natural light and connect us with a world beyond our four walls can quite literally make us happier and healthier."
Unfortunately, not all windows allow for this level of brightness, which is why it's important to know how to fake the appearance of more natural light when you aren't working with a lot to begin with. "Lack of light, no windows, or small windows can all make a small room feel even smaller," says Lauren Lerner of Living with Lolo. "The illusion of more window space can help to open up the room and visually make it appear so much larger." Curious how you can give your home feel brighter, almost as if it had more windows, without hiring a contractor? From tips for hanging window treatments to the best furniture arrangements and more, interior designers share their advice for making small windows appear larger.
Hang window treatments close to the ceiling.
No matter the size of your windows, Brianne Bishop of Brianne Bishop Design recommends hanging your drapes as high and close to the ceiling as possible to visually expand the area. "This creates an illusion that your windows are taller than they actually are, and brings your eye up, creating a sense of verticality in your home," she explains. Madden says the same trick applies when installing roman shades. "If you're doing an outside mount, you can mount about a foot higher than the top of the window," she explains. "This will make the window seem like it starts higher, and ensure the stack (the fabric that is folded up when the shade is open) doesn't block the window glass when you have the shade pulled up."
Hang a mirror across the room from a window.
Another easy way to enhance natural light in a room is by placing a mirror across from your window. "This allows for light from the window to bounce off the mirror and fill the room," says interior designer Haley Weidenbaum, the founder of Everhem. "Mirrors can immediately make a space feel larger, not to mention they give the feeling of an additional window when you may not have one." When you only have one or two small windows in a room, Madden says that mirrors that have a particular window-like look, such as ones with a window pane design, are the next best thing. "They'll bounce the light around and create that sense of depth that we achieve from a real view to the outside," she explains.
Be strategic about window treatments.
Make no mistake about it: The right window treatments can make your windows appear larger than they actually are. "Fabric selection is important," says Penny D. Francis, principal designer and owner of Eclectic Home. "To extend the length of your windows, look for vertical patterns, such as stripes, to make it seem taller and horizontal patterns to make it seem wider." Additionally, Kimberlee Gorsline of Kimberlee Marie Interiors recommends looking for window treatments composed of lightweight fabrics when outfitting a small window. "Window treatments that aren't overly bulky are less likely to crowd a window when they are open and pushed to the sides," she says. "If privacy isn't an issue, go for a sheer, and if a little more opaqueness is needed, go for a linen."
Stick with a light paint palette.
Never underestimate the power of paint in a room that's lacking in windows. "If there's little light in the room, you can reflect as much as possible into the space by painting the walls in a light color," says Linda Allen of Linda Allen Designs. "White and light colors do not absorb light on the color spectrum like dark colors, while semi-gloss or gloss colors can reflect light back into the space." Francis says that painting walls and window moldings the same color can also draw less attention to the size of the frame. "Monochromatic color palettes work best when trying to make a space or window seem larger because they seem more fluid," she explains. "A contrasting color will only draw more attention to the window."
Minimize visual obstructions.
Interior designer Becky Shea says that one foolproof way to create the illusion of larger windows is to make sure that there's never any furniture in front of them. "Anything beyond window treatments that encroach on a window's space is going to ultimately make it feel smaller, so keep furniture away from them and enjoy the view, instead," she advises. "A window clear of obstruction will not just let more light in helping to make the window feel larger, it will also make it more likely you'll actually use the window to let some fresh air in—a win-win!" Of course, Madden says you can always forgo window treatments entirely to make your windows seem bigger. "If privacy and light control aren't a problem, we suggest removing window treatments completely to maximize the amount of glass you see," she explains.