While there's a lot to enjoy about winter—including cozy evenings in by the fireplace, holidays with friends and family, and freshly fallen snow—we all know that these chilly months bring with them short days and minimal hours of sunlight. While candles, lamps, and other quick fixes certainly help, there's nothing like true natural light streaming into one's home. So how can you ensure that your house receives as much natural sunlight as possible this winter? We spoke with designers to get the scoop.
Meet the Expert
1. Hang a Mirror (or Several)
Mirrors—what would we do without them? They're functional, decorative, and can help make a space appear larger, for starters. But they also have another superpower. "The use of mirrors is an easy way you can disperse and scatter existing natural light into other areas within a space," designer Marie Cloud explains. "The perfect mirror can truly illuminate a gloomy dark space."
However, there is some strategy behind hanging a mirror in any given room. "The best placement is on the wall that is perpendicular to the window," designer Anais Chaumien advises. "You can also place it on the wall facing the window. Try to use oversized mirrors for a stunning effect."
Think about what the mirror will be reflecting in the background, too. "It's important to carefully evaluate what will be in front of the mirror before purchasing it," designer Michelle Martel notes. "The reflection should lift up the space. Be mindful of messy desks or untidy shelves. Mirrors should showcase the best elements of your home."
2. Paint Walls White
If you're painting a room, Martel suggests going with a classic, crisp white. "It seems simple, and, no, it doesn't reinvent the wheel, but white paint is one of the most effective way to instantly bring natural light to a space," she says. "It's also an easy and inexpensive solution that can be a fun DIY project." Designer Liz Goldberg agrees. "We love painting walls, ceiling and trim all the same shade of white to brighten up a room, letting whatever natural light is there to bounce along the walls," she says.
3. Go Glossy
And be strategic about the type of sheen you use, explains Cloud. "Even adding glossy finishes can help natural light bounce throughout a room," she notes. Making over (or shopping for) a dresser? "Get a shiny furniture finish to help reflect those light rays," Cloud suggests.
4. Think About Furniture Shape
Before you commit to a brand new piece, think about whether its structure will enhance the flow of light in your space. "Use furniture with exposed legs," Chaumien notes. "It will let the light flow in the room, whereas a bulkier item will block it."
5. Pick the Right Material, Too
Keep this in mind when shopping for furniture: The best materials to look for, which will maximize light flow, include acrylic, rattan, mesh, and other see-through options, Chaumien adds.
6. Work the Windows
Keep your windowsills free of clutter. "Don’t block the light with anything," Chaumien urges. "No furniture, accessories, or plants should sit in front of the window." Then, ensure blinds and shutters are removed, notes Goldberg. And you'll want to be strategic when it comes to curtains, too. "Choose light materials that will let the light flow," Chaumien says. "Hang them high above the window, and be sure to use hardware larger than the windows to ensure the curtains don’t overlap with the window when opened."
Another option is sheer curtains. "Sheer window treatments allow the light to pass through into the window while creating a soft, filtered light into the room," designer Mark Lavender adds. One last suggestion? "If the room doesn’t need the privacy, go for a naked window," Goldberg says.
7. Go Maximalist
For one, consider painting the ceiling—this is a trick that designer Isabel Ladd enjoys employing in her own projects. The designer also suggests decking the walls. "A bright and patterned wallpaper will reflect and brighten a space," she says.