Not all properties, or indeed rooms, boast large spaces with windows conveniently positioned to allow natural light to come streaming in. But making the right choices in terms of design and colour can instantly make your home look and feel more spacious.
A simple first rule to observe is to use the lightest paint colours. A pale gloss on wooden skirting boards will reflect light. Smooth, white ceilings will add an illusion of greater height to a room.
Patterned wallpapers might appeal to the designer within you, but will do little to impart a sense of space and light to a room. Plain walls will allow you greater freedom of choice in design features within the room – go for bold patterned cushions, or bright, colourful wall art.
Mirrors are an obvious choice to create light within a room, and work well in narrow places, such as hallways, to make the space seem wider. Go for vertical, rectangular-shaped mirrors to add a greater sense of height too; the eye will be drawn upwards rather than across. The same principle applies to furniture within your living space; choose narrow, tall shelving units, and portrait rather than landscape pictures and prints.
In the kitchen, high shelves create an illusion of greater height as the eye rises towards them. More tips to create light and space in the kitchen include built-in shelving above the fridge freezer. Fix a magazine rack to the side of a cabinet to hold your recipes; they’ll look so much better out of the way than piling up on a windowsill. Perhaps fix a spice shelf underneath a floating cupboard, or mug hooks to free up cabinet space. Floating shelves rather than a bulky cabinet will give you the opportunity to display useful and decorative items, such as your favourite bowls, teapots and glasses.
Try to remove visual barriers in your living space; a glass-topped table will create a greater sense of space than a solid wood coffee or dining table. Rugs, although they may feel soft underfoot, simply add to the clutter in a small space. When choosing flooring, opt for light, neutral carpet shades. If laying laminate, wood or tile flooring, choose the widest boards or largest tiles – the more stripes and lines there are, the greater the narrowing effect on your room.
Abide by the principle ‘less is more;’ the less clutter there is, the more spacious the area will appear. That doesn’t mean to say that your interior needs to be stark – far from it. Larger ornaments or vases will make a bold statement without suggesting clutter.
Have you thought about putting your TV on the wall? That wouldn’t be everybody’s choice but it would create space. Wherever you place your TV, do take care to hide away the untidy cables.
Whatever the size of your windows, you can maximize the amount of natural light indoors by keeping the windowsills free of houseplants and clutter. Perhaps consider blinds or shutters instead of curtains, again, to maximize light and space. Vertical blinds give the opportunity to add style and colour, and shutter blinds combine style and colour, and add security and privacy. Choose from bright colours or natural wood to complement and enhance the living space. Self-fitting makes shutter blinds an even more affordable choice, and advice on measuring and fitting is easily available online. Even if window frames are not perfectly square, there are solutions to make fitting easy.
For bedrooms, lots of natural light might not be top of your list of priorities. Top of that list should be a clutter-free environment, however. Piles of books, magazines and shoes, the ironing board stuffed in a corner, or a dressing table littered with lotions and potions will not create the peaceful, relaxing environment so vital for a good night’s sleep. Invest in quality furniture fit for purpose; a taller wardrobe will enable you to hang two rows of clothes, effectively doubling the rail space. Shutters in the bedroom will allow you total control over light coming in.
The clutter-free principle applies to the bathroom too; house spare shower gels and loo rolls inside a cabinet. A clear shower screen over the bath, instead of a coloured or opaque curtain, will immediately add light and a sense of space to a small room.
A spacious, clutter-free interior will add a sense of calm to the home environment, making it a place where it is easier to relax, and a pleasure in which to entertain your guests.