It’s not uncommon for a property to have at least one room that feels a bit dark and dingy. It might be a ground-floor, north-facing room that has much of its light overshadowed by trees and bushes in the garden. Or you could be in a flat where other buildings around you restrict the light that floods into your home.
Either way, you’re likely to want to lighten the mood and make it feel more airy and breezy than it currently does.
Luckily there are plenty of ways to do this, with Real Homes recently offering some top tips about how you can bring a little more light into your space.
The obvious place to start is with the windows themselves. Are they dirty? Give them a thorough clean inside and out so that you know exactly how much light you can let into your space. And don’t stop with the windows. Cleaning the whole room will make a difference too.
Regularly dust all your surfaces, but especially any reflective ones, as the dust will dim their shine and stop them bouncing as much light around the room. Don’t forget about your light fittings either. Dust can build up on these and make them seem dim, so clean them off regularly to ensure you’re getting maximum brightness from your lights.
Once you’ve finished cleaning, look at your window dressing. Whether you have blinds or curtains, you want something that’s made from a light, sheer fabric. This will mean that you still get some light coming in even when the curtains are drawn or blinds are closed.
If you opt for blinds, make sure you choose vertical blinds that can completely retract so that you’re not inadvertently blocking natural light.
Next, take a look at your window sills. Are they full of clutter? Do you have a lot of houseplants or knick knacks littering the surface? If so, clear them away or put them elsewhere in your home. Having things on the window sill will cast shadows in your space and block light.
These items might only seem small, but if you’ve got a room that’s struggling to let enough light in then every bit counts!
When you’ve dealt with all of these things, you can look at the decor itself. It makes sense that lighter colours will promote a lighter feeling in a space, so begin there. White walls are great for reflecting the light around but if you don’t want to go all out with white paint, you can choose warm grey-toned neutral shades or pale, dusky pastels for a similar effect.
Another top tip from the website is to keep whatever colour you opt for to warm tones if you’ve got a north-facing room. The light that comes in from this direction will always feel cool, so it’s important to make your space feel a bit warmer by using shades that promote this feeling.
Don’t forget about your flooring when you’re tackling the walls. A pale coloured floor will reflect more light than a dark one. Think cream carpet or pale hardwood floorboards. If you go for floorboards which are, let’s face it, a little easier to keep clean than cream carpets, add a rattan or jute rug.
They’ll have the same effect in terms of light that a cream rug will, but they’re more hard-wearing and easier to clean.
If you’re carrying out a larger home renovation project you may also want to think about the windows themselves and what type is best suited to your different rooms. According to Homebuilding & Renovation, the position of your windows will generally be determined by the layout of the house and the architectural style.
However, if you’re thinking of refurbishing a property, it pays to think carefully about which type of windows you want on your home.
There’s also what’s known as a golden ratio for window sizes. This ratio is 1:1:618. That means a vertical sash window that’s 800mm wide should be 1,300mm tall, the publication advised.
If you’ve bought a period property, you should replicate the style of the original windows, even if you’re replacing rather than restoring what’s there. In most cases in the UK that will mean they’re either sash windows or casement windows.
Open-out casement windows are one of the traditional British styles that you’ll see on older properties, particularly cottages. The website noted that split casements are best for a cottage-style design. These aren’t too hard to replace with double glazing either, although you may want to spend a bit of time finding the right product to ensure it fits in with the original style.
Sash windows, particularly those in Georgian and early-era Victorian properties are harder to replace with double glazing without looking out of place.
One of the things to be aware of with sash windows is that they’ll be designed in proportion to the house, which means they’re unlikely to be a ‘standard’ size. That’s why it’s best to invest in sash windows in Gloucestershire, or wherever you live, that are designed specifically for your property.
When you’re replacing original sash windows, make sure you do so through a company that’s experienced in creating this kind of glazing and frame.
New windows will be able to get rid of many of the issues associated with old sash windows, such as draughts and rattles, but you need to ensure that they’re made using a high standard of craftsmanship so that they look the part once they’re installed.
Replacing these windows will make your property more energy efficient and can help with noise reduction too, so it’s a worthwhile investment in an older home. You may also want to look into the government’s new scheme for green mortgages.
This is designed to support homeowners who want to make eco-friendly renovations to older homes and give them reduced mortgage rates if they carry out work designed to make a home more energy efficient.
The main reason for the government’s interest in improving the efficiency of the country’s older homes is that a large proportion of the UK’s emissions are generated by its building stock. This means that, to meet its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, serious steps will need to be taken to bring older properties up to an acceptable standard.
If this is making you think about replacing old windows with new, just take a moment to consider whether you could instead have your sash windows restored. US-based architect Mathew Cummings recently told Forbes that it’s often a mistake to replace old windows with brand new ones.
“People replace 200-year-old windows with new vinyl ones that are guaranteed for five years. They are made of oil products and evil gases and soon their useful life is over and they end up in landfill,” he asserted.
Mr Cummings continued: “Old windows are made of clean wood and glass and, once rebuilt, are good for another 200 years.”
This means that getting rid of your old windows could be a false economy if you’re not going to spend the money to swap them for high-quality wood-framed replacements. In the UK, you may well find that you’re not allowed to replace original sash windows with vinyl-framed alternatives as they will alter the character of the home too much.
Always make sure you check whether you own a listed building, or if it’s in a heritage conservation area, before you carry out any work. Otherwise, you could be liable for a fine and be forced to spend money returning the property to its previous condition if you introduce any features that aren’t in keeping with a historic home.