Best Ways to Increase Natural Light in Your Home

Natural light in a home is always better than artificial light. It bathes your room in a rich full spectrum hue that light bulbs can only hope to duplicate and it increases your body's feel-good serotonin levels. Best of all, natural light will not come due at the end of the month with the power bill. It's free.

Many homes were not built with natural light in mind. Short of picking up your house and turning it in the direction of the sun—or altogether relocating it to a sunnier location—there are a few remodel projects you can do that significantly increase interior natural light.

  • 01 of 07

    Paint Your Eaves White

    Painting House Eaves

    John Lund/Sam Diephuis / Getty Images

    The overhangs created by your roof are eaves or soffits. Either they are left as open eaves or they are covered up with a horizontal soffit.

    In any case, this section reflects natural light and sends it into your home. Painting your eaves white is one little-known way to boost natural light in every room of your home.

    Even if your house exterior is a different color, you can still paint your eaves white-only. Because of how eaves angle toward the house, the curbside appearance will not be affected. You will primarily see them only from within the house.

  • 02 of 07

    Use Lighter, Brighter Interior Wall and Ceiling Paints

    Laptop on coffee table in a modern living room of an old country house
    Westend61 / Getty Images

    Painting walls and ceilings white or another light color may seem like an easy way to add more light, and it is. But if you're not quite convinced, consider these tips:

    • Your best bet: Interior wall color is the number one way to reflect natural light back into your room. Light Reflectance Value, or LRV, can range from near to 100-percent for pure white down to close to 0-percent for black. All colors in-between will have greater or lesser LRV.
    • White is the brightest: Nothing is brighter than white. If you really don't like white but really want more light, look into whites with some other color tones; white comes in a huge range of subtly different shades.
    • Ceilings are important: Most ceilings are white for a reason: White reflects light. And since ceilings often go unnoticed when surveying a room's decor, there's no design penalty for going with white. Flat white is preferred over glossier sheens because a matte finish reduces glare, and ceilings don't need the washability of glossier paint because they don't get touched regularly, like walls and trim do.
  • 03 of 07

    Turn Your Walls Into Mirrors With Higher Gloss Paint

    Modern white kitchen

     

    Westend61 / Getty Images

    "The higher the gloss level," notes paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams, "the higher the light reflectance–more light will bounce off a surface painted with a high gloss paint than one with a matte sheen."

    In other words, by using glossier paint for your walls, you give them a mirror-like effect. And as everyone knows, mirrors reflect light.

    This does not mean that you must use high-gloss paint, though you can if you wish. It means going one notch up in a glossier direction. So, if you love matte, try eggshell. If you love eggshell sheen, try semi-gloss. If you have a remarkably dark room, you may want to consider glossy paint for your walls, even though it is not typically used on walls. Just be aware that more gloss means more glare from strong light, especially artificial light.

  • 04 of 07

    Use Glass or Highly Reflective Tiles

    Kitchen with open shelving and mosaic tile

    Hero Images / Getty Images

    Glass tiles are the next best thing to installing mirrors on your kitchen or bathroom backsplash.  In the right light, glass tiles reflect close to 100-percent of the light that hits them. 

    Second to glass, install highly glossy ceramic tiles for a nearly equal reflective effect. Compare low-reflection (and trendy) backsplash materials like concrete or pallet wood against even an ordinary white subway tile backsplash. In terms of light reflection, the subway tile is superior to many other materials. And at just a few dollars per square foot, it is far cheaper, too.

    For maximum reflection, turn up the light even more and install metallic backsplash tiles.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Replace Wall Space With Glass Blocks

    Bathroom with jacuzzi being constructed with glass block wall

    Jodi Jacobson / Getty Images

    Not the easiest fix but an effective one, replacing sections of your exterior wall with glass block brings in a fair amount of natural light where otherwise no light would be entering your home. 

    Glass block is not a structural replacement for a wall stud system, so headers must be installed over the block sections, as you would with any window or door unit.

  • 06 of 07

    Install Skylights in Your Ceiling

    Rustic luxury kitchen
    Charlie Dean / Getty Images

    Skylights are an amazingly effective way of pulling in natural light. In fact, skylights are often called windows for the roof. Not only do skylights present as much glazing area as a medium-sized window, but they also face upward, where the sun is located.

    Skylights bring in more consistent light than most windows because skylights are less likely to be shadowed by outdoor objects, and sunlight reflected off of clouds comes right into the house.

  • 07 of 07

    Add Reflective Room Features

    Bedroom With Unique Lighting Fixture
    A Sputnik lighting fixture creates a dramatic effect for this master bedroom.

    Genevieve Garruppo 

    When sunlight reflects on a chandelier, it sends more light into the room. And the chandelier doesn't even need to be turned on for this to happen.

    Think in terms of shiny, glossy, and reflective room elements: mirrors, sconces, and shiny cabinet pulls.