7 Best Ways to Increase Natural Light in Your Home

Natural light is always better than artificial light.  It bathes your room in a rich full spectrum hue that light bulbs can only hope to duplicate; increases your body's "feel good" serotonin levels; and best of all, it costs exactly zero dollars.  How great is that?

Unfortunately, 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 Tucson or San Diego--there are a few remodel...MORE projects you can do that significantly increase interior natural light.

These methods revolve around three themes:  1.)  Bringing in more light; 2.)  Making surfaces more reflective; 3.)  Lightening colors.

  • 01 of 07
    Painting House Eaves
    Painting House Eaves. Getty / John Lund/Sam Diephuis

    Look out your window right now.  See those overhangs created by your roof?  Those are eaves.  Either they are left open (as shown in this picture) or covered up with a horizontal soffit.

    Either way, this section reflects natural light 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 eaves angle toward the house, curb-side...MORE appearance will not be affected.  You will only see them from within the house.

  • 02 of 07
    Bright Green Paint
    Bright Green Paint. Getty / pagadesign

    Before you say, "Yeah, lighter paint--that's a no-brainer," listen up:

    1. 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 100% for pure white down to 0% for black.  All colors in-between will have greater or lesser LRV.
    2. The Brightest:  Nothing is brighter than white, even if you hate white wall colors.  Which do you want--color or light?
    3. Plus Other Reasons...  You really should paint...MORE your ceiling white.  Though it is fun and goofy to paint your ceiling purple, black, or green, you introduce so many deficits when you do so.  Light bounce is degraded.  The illusion of depth is obliterated.  And when goofiness prevails, your internal style time-bomb begins rapidly ticking until the moment you just cannot wait to paint the ceiling white again.
  • 03 of 07
    Light Kitchen Decorating Idea
    © Glidden Paints

    Paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams notes, "The higher the gloss level, 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 you should use glossy paint (though you can, if you wish).  It means going one notch up in a glossier direction.  

    So, if you love...MORE matte, try eggshell.  If you love eggshell, 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.

  • 04 of 07
    Kitchen Open Shelving and Mosaic Tile 530054791
    Kitchen Open Shelving and Mosaic Tile Backsplash. Getty / Hero 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% 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 a run-of-the-mill white subway tile backsplash.  In terms of light reflection, the subway tile blows the other materials out...MORE of the water.  And at $2.00 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
    Bathroom With Jacuzzi Being Constructed With Glass Block Wall 155385964
    Bathroom With Jacuzzi Being Constructed With Glass Block Wall. Getty / Jodi Jacobson

    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.

    Glass block dramatically swings your home in a different stylistic direction, as it was popular both in the 1920s (Art Deco) and in the...MORE 1980s.  

  • 06 of 07
    Replacing Windows In a Home
    Replacing Windows In a Home. Getty / Johner Images

    You are fighting a losing battle if you pull out all stops mentioned in this article, yet your windows themselves do not let in enough light.  

    One reason your windows block light is because the insides of the double panes are finished in a metallic low-e coating, now standard on all windows.  Until only a few years ago, replacement windows with no low-e coating were an alternative.  Now they are not.

    However, you can purchase low-e coating with a high solar heat gain co-efficient (SHGC).  

    They...MORE are not easy to find, but with determined detective work you will find that most major window manufacturers carry high SHGC windows designed for the very northern U.S. and Canada.  

    For example, Pella's offering is the NaturalSun Low-E Insulating Glass with Argon, which blocks 69% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, as opposed to the 84% rating for Pella's general use windows.

  • 07 of 07
    Installing a Skylight in a Roof 173640605
    Installing a Skylight in a Roof. Getty / KristianSeptimiusKrogh

    Skylights are an amazingly effective way of pulling in natural light.  In fact, skylights are often called "windows for the roof."  Not only do they present as much fenestration as a medium-sized window, they do it by facing upward--where the sun is located.

    There is one problem:  they cost so much to install.  

    A Velux 21" x 45 3/4" venting skylight costs about $450.  Not bad!  But consider that the skylight itself is only one part of the entire skylight system.  You also need a...MORE site-built skylight well, or tunnel, made of wood and drywall.  This well connects the skylight at its beginning point on the roof to its end point in your ceiling.  

    Triple the amount of your skylight purchase and this will give you a rough estimate of how much skylight installation will cost by professionals.