BRIGHTEN YOUR DAY
Bring light into your home to make a room more inviting, seem bigger and also save on energy. A combination of natural and artificial light, as well as color schemes and design, can update and transform your home into a warm and comfortable haven. Visual stimulation and exposure to light are critical to well-being and can add additional value to a home for prospective buyers. Light can affect our productivity, ability to learn, circadian rhythms and health. Eileen Claar, social media product expert at Home Depot, says, "There are 10 ways to increase the amount of light and visibility into your house." Skylights, windows, doors, window treatments, room color or paneling, artificial lighting, and even the type of light bulb used can make a huge difference in how bright your life can be. "With added natural light and ventilation from skylights, homeowners have attractive and effective tools to balance the light and improve ventilation in their homes," says Ross Vandermark, national product manager for skylight manufacturer Velux America. Skylights can make a small or dark room feel larger and more open. Tubular skylights can be installed around attic obstructions, reflect light where needed, and fit into tight spaces. Easily installed accessories to adjust and control light will contribute to energy efficiency. "Venetian blinds are available to adjust light, as are blinds to diffuse light and blinds to block light," Vandermark says "and the accessories, as well as the units themselves, can be operated by remote control." Solar blinds are also available that qualify for a 30 percent federal tax credit.Consider installing more large windows in your home. Picture windows and bay windows provide for wide viewing areas and can add attractive features to your home's exterior. An awning window installed above doors or other windows will add additional light, and it often opens by using a crank handle for improved ventilation. Doors with glass insets or glass-side panels will allow more light into the entrance of your home. Sliding patio doors or French doors from your deck or patio are also great sources of natural light. Think about both privacy and energy efficiency in your window treatments. Select sheer curtains with cornices or scarf valances, light-filtering roller shades, or solar shades to allow maximum light through the windows while maintaining privacy. Wide blinds will allow more light through when opened. Blinds with the top-down-bottom-up feature will allow more light from the top of the window while affording privacy. "A light color on the walls will help brighten up a room and make the space feel larger," according to Claar. "Keep all of the walls in the room the same shade for continuity and to create an open space. Be sure to also freshen up the ceiling with a light coordinating color." Pay special attention to kitchen lighting. The kitchen is often the central work area of the home and also where families gather for evening meals and discussions. Track lighting and well-placed hanging fixtures can add additional light and focus, while adding beauty, depth and functionality to the room. Under-counter lighting can make chores such as cooking and even washing dishes seem less tiring. Consider "tap lights" for kitchen cabinets and pantries to make finding things easier. Lights behind glass cabinet doors can add a soft glow and add interesting focal points to show off items such as prized teapots or china. Strategically placed table, floor and wall lamps near outlets can be tailored for specific needs and uses around your home. Use soft white light bulbs for a warm, soft tint. A bright white light bulb is excellent for indoor task lighting and will do well next to your favorite reading chair. Dimmers can change the mood in a room and reduce harsh overhead lighting. Bathroom lights, whether over the sink or on the side, should be used to add warmth, convenience and safety; soft white bulbs around the vanity mirror are terrific for makeup application. Flameless candles add a warm glow with a battery-operated "flame." Daylight bulbs simulate natural sunlight in table lamps and sconces and can help minimize the physiological and psychological effects of seasonal affective disorder (more commonly called the winter blues), which plague many during the winter, when the daylight hours are shortest.