Thanks so much to Sommer for letting me guest post over here today! I've been a huge fan of Sommer's blog for a while now. Her ability to take traditional decorations and make them look new and fresh is always so inspiring to me.
My husband and I just moved into our new-to-us house in early summer. Since then we've been updating the house room-by-room on a very limited budget. I could see the potential in each room, but during that first walk-through, the house just felt GLOOMY. The interior was so dark! The kitchen and family rooms boast two windows… COMBINED! So today, I’m sharing with you the 6 tips I’ve learned about bringing light into otherwise gloomy spaces (without adding natural light).
TIP 1: TAKE OUT UNNECESSARY LIGHT-BLOCKING PIECES.
TIP 2: LIGHTEN UP MAJOR FOCAL POINTS
Make a point to choose the focal points in the room. It's the first thing you notice when you walk into a room. In this case, it was the cabinets and the fireplace... both of which were DARK and HEAVY.
We painted both (and the trim). I know, I know… it’s practically sacrilegious to encourage people to paint brick and wood in the same sentence. Painting the brick was up for debate, but my decision was made when I dripped white paint down the front of the fireplace while painting the trim.
Turns out, painting those dark surfaces was the biggest change in the space. They were by far the biggest light voids in these rooms. Now, when you walk into the room your eyes are drawn to the lightest and brightest items, not the darkest. This is the same shot as above taken around the same time of day:
There are a myriad of “neutral” colors that still hold color… you don’t have to go with white, ivory or yellow. In fact, the kitchen was painted mustard yellow and it didn’t help to bright it at all. It only succeeded in highlighting the darkness of the cabinets and the hideousness of the counter tops.
TIP 4: DON’T BLOCK THE LIGHT!
It drives me crazy when I see a room that has tons of windows and beautiful natural light and the curtains and blinds are blocking it all.
Use curtains to enhance the windows and draw your eye to them. My curtain rods are hung so that I can push the curtains to either side of the window without blocking any light.
TIP 5: MIRRORS!
TIP 6: LIGHTS, DUH!
I know it sounds painfully obvious, but proper lighting is key. A single large light will brighten a room but in an unflattering-we-live-in-a-sterile-hospital way (no offense if that's what you're going for). Multiple small lights bring warmth to a room without drowning it in harsh light. I don’t have this one complete yet. We added the pendants a softer ceiling light, and two lamps. We also removed the AWFUL florescent light that dominated the kitchen.
We’ve got a ways to go yet, but at least the kitchen and the family room feel like home. As far as feelings go, the house has probably moved from sad and dreary to content. We’re working on the happy home we dreamed of! I hope you’ll join us for the ride!