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; it 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 a sunnier location--there are a few remodel projects you can do that significantly increase interior natural light.




Use Lighter, Brighter Interior Wall and Ceiling Paints

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

  • Your best bet: Interior wall colour is the number one way to reflect natural light back into your room. Light Reflectance Value, or LRV, can range from 100 percent for pure white down to 0 percent for black. All colours in-between will have greater or lesser LRV.
  • The brightest: Nothing is brighter than white, even if you hate white wall colours. Which do you want--colour or light?
  • Plus other reasons: You really should paint 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.

Turn your walls into Mirrors with Higher Gloss Paint

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 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.

Use Glass or Highly Reflective Tiles in your Kitchen or Bathroom Backsplashes

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 a run-of-the-mill white subway tile backsplash.

In terms of light reflection, the subway tile blows the other materials out of the water. And at $2 per square foot, it is far cheaper, too. For maximum reflection, turn up the light even more and install metallic backsplash tiles.

Replace Wall Space with Glass Blocks

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 1980s.

Install Skylights in Your Ceiling

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, but they also 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 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 endpoint 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.
So, are you ready to brighten up your home with some natural light?