In general I would say that having more light in your home makes for a happier home, particularly if you work from home like I do.
It is known that sunlight plays a role in moderating melatonin, serotonin, and vitamin D which again plays a role in maintaining serotonin levels - all this is connected to mood.
One simple solution for dark rooms or hallways is to go out and get more electric lighting, but that should be a last resort because it leads to more energy consumption and puts more pressure on the environment unless you have solar panels and are electrically self-sufficient which isn't the case for most people.
So in light of that (pun intended), here are a few tips for brightening up your home broken down into two sections:
More Light With Renovating
In this section I'm going to talk about a range of projects from the very simple, such as a coat of paint, to the more complex such as installing skylights, and a few other ideas in between.
Making surfaces more reflective
Although mirrors are the obvious tool for increasing the amount of light in a space, they're not the only reflective surfaces you can have. By painting your walls light colors you will increase the amount of reflected light. And don't forget about the other major surface - your floors. Polished hardwood floors and bright tiles can also contribute substantially to the amount of reflected light. If carpet is your thing, then choose a light color.
New doors & windows
If you have solid exterior doors consider replacing them with ones which contain a window. You can have bars or a security grill over it to maintain security, and best of all door replacement is one of the few remodeling projects that can easily turn a profit.
If you really want to open up and let light in then consider the larger project of knocking a big hole in your back wall to install sliding glass doors leading out to your back yard, deck, or patio.
Similarly, if you have small windows in a space you want to bring more light into then consider replacing them with larger windows.
When you don't have the option of bringing in light from windows and doors, particularly in the middle of your home, then skylights are the way to go. The technology behind them has improved considerably over the years and while you can still get the old traditional ones there are much more advanced options available today.
For example you can get tubular systems which can reflect light through a curved tube so that the light taken in doesn't have to be immediately above the light outlet in your ceiling. And you don't have to have a big gap in your ceiling going all the way up to the roof as my childhood house had, the light outlet can be installed in the ceiling to look just like a regular recessed light.
The diagram on the right from Belle Skylights illustrates the concept well, in fact some systems utilizing fiber optics can channel the light over much larger distances quite efficiently.
More Light Without Renovating
There may be many reasons why undertaking a major renovation project doesn't suit your circumstances such as when you're renting, you don't have the funds or the time, or in some cases because you live in a building where it's either too difficult to get approval or you are simply not allowed such as in apartments or heritage listed buildings.
Make use of mirrors
This one comes down to simple physics. The more photons that are reflected, the fewer are absorbed by a particular surface and therefore will be concentrated onto other surfaces where they will be absorbed and reflected. Basically, they light up other things in the room to a greater extent. Mirrors also have the psychological effect of making a space look bigger.
Careful use of furniture
You’re obviously not going to place a huge bookshelf in front of a window, but you might not have considered how placing one immediately beside a window can cut down on light because the sides of any furniture beside a window will absorb some light, and reflect some light back outside. So keep tall furniture away from the sides of windows where possible.The same applies to placing large pieces of dark furniture immediately below a window - avoid placing large dark sofas beneath a window as it will block too much precious light from coming in.
In general go for lighter colored furniture, arrange it carefully, and it will reflect more light and have a similar effect to mirrors.
Careful use of curtains
At my previous house, I had two layers of curtains (similar to the picture on the right) - regular ones plus an additional layer of sheer curtains closest to the windows.
The benefit of sheer curtains is that you can leave these closed to let in some light while maintaining privacy. Consider whether or not you really need that privacy or if you'd benefit more from the additional light by opening both layers of curtains - particularly during winter or overcast days.
So let the light shine in, save money on your electric bills, and be happier!
You might also like to read:
• A Look at Different Kinds of Windows