A significant number of home buyers say that plenty of natural light is at the top of their must-have list when shopping for a home, and with good reason. Exposure to natural light can help regulate serotonin levels, increase productivity during the day, help you sleep better at night, and enhance overall well-being. In addition, natural light makes a space feel larger, lighter, and more relaxing.
Below, we’ll explore a variety of strategies that sellers can employ to maximize the natural light in their homes for fall and winter showings. With a few simple decor choices and small tweaks, you can brighten your space considerably to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
1. Make Your Windows Work for You
Since windows are your primary source of light, optimizing your window space can make a big impact on your home’s overall lighting and aesthetic. Here’s how to make the most of your windows:
Keep them clean. Dirty windows and skylights can block as much as 40% to 50% of natural light. Give your windows and skylights a good cleaning inside and out as you prepare your home for fall and winter showings. This is especially important if you live on a high-traffic street where windows are more exposed to dirt and grime. If you have a lot of windows or windows in hard-to-reach places, consider hiring professionals to get your panes squeaky clean.
Trim overhanging branches and shrubs. Trees and bushes can act as a natural privacy screen, but if they’re obstructing sunlight and creating a cave-like feeling in your space, trim them back to let in more light.
Update your window treatments. Replace heavy window treatments or curtains with light-permeable options like blinds or shades, or consider light, airy sheers. Note that not every window in your home requires a covering. Unless it’s a space where privacy is a must like bedrooms and bathrooms, consider removing window treatments altogether for maximum light. In addition, move big pieces of furniture away from windows if they’re obstructing the light.
Clear the sills. Keep window sills clutter-free, allowing more light into the room.
2. Choose Light-Friendly Decor
Increase your home’s natural light with these decor strategies:
Use light, bright paint on walls and ceilings. There’s a reason most ceilings are painted white: Lighter colors reflect natural light rather than absorb it, making a room feel more spacious and airy. If you’re prepping your home for sale, chances are good that your real estate professional may have recommended investing in a fresh coat of neutral paint for your main living areas. It’s a good time to choose a light-colored shade with a high Light Reflective Value (LRV). Pure white shades may have an LRV near 100, while more subtle shades of white, ivory, or cream will have lower LRVs. The LRV is usually printed on the back of the paint chip.
Also consider a paint’s gloss — the higher the gloss level, the more light-bounce you’ll have throughout the room. If a mirror-like sheen of a high-gloss paint isn’t right for your room, try a semi-gloss, or an eggshell finish.
Add mirrors… When positioned opposite a window, mirrors help to bounce natural light around a room, instantly making the space feel bigger and brighter. Mirrors can also draw light into dim corners, acting almost like a window by adding extra brightness. In addition to wall mirrors, try placing smaller mirrors on shelves, or allowing extra large mirrors to sit directly on the floor as a focal point.
…and other reflective surfaces. Accessories or furniture with shiny surfaces will also reflect light and help to make a room feel airier. Glass tables; metal details on furniture, lamps, or drawer pulls; glazed sculptural pieces; or high-gloss artwork are a few examples of light-reflecting accents that can be utilized to bring warmth and light to dark spaces.
Choose furniture wisely. Furniture in lighter shades can help reflect light around a room, while bulky, dark furniture and rugs can make a room feel cramped and claustrophobic. Remove or store unnecessary furniture pieces to create a sense of spaciousness and flow. If it’s in your budget, you might talk with your real estate agent about staging the key rooms in your home for showing. Professional stagers often have access to furniture and accessories that can be used to create the aesthetic buyers want to see (even if it’s not your personal style).
Minimize. Declutter your living areas to allow light to flow freely, so buyers can focus on your home’s highlights without distraction.
3. Creative Lighting Solutions
Supplementing natural light with strategic artificial light can make a big difference in the feel of a room. Make sure bulbs are the correct wattage and are bright enough to illuminate the whole space.
If possible, replace outdated bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs. You can experiment with different lightbulb color temperatures using the Kelvin scale. Bulbs higher on the Kelvin scale have bluer tones, similar to a daytime sky. Low-Kelvin bulbs are warmer in tone, mimicking the glow of a fire or candlelight.
Optimize lighting by first considering the activities and tasks that are performed in a particular space, then choose lighting based on those functions:
Ambient lighting creates a soft and welcoming atmosphere. Think wall sconces and pendant lights.
Task lighting is useful in kitchens for countertop work, or in reading areas and other workspaces.
Accent lighting highlights unique features of your home like architectural features or artwork.
Adjustable lighting like dimmable light fixtures in dining rooms, kitchens, and living areas is versatile and adapts to different lighting needs throughout the day.
A final option is to strategically use candles and lanterns around your home to create a warm and cozy atmosphere and brighten gloomy rooms on dark days.
Maximizing natural light during fall and winter home showings can significantly enhance your home’s appeal to potential buyers. With carefully chosen decor, squeaky clean windows, and fresh coats of light-colored paint, you can create an open, welcoming environment that showcases your home’s full potential.