Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Turn on the light and transform your home!

Yorkshire Post Mid-Week Life & Style Section - 3rd March 2010


"How do you brighten up a gloomy room?"  Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall comes up with some bright solutions to dark problems
We are frequently faced with rooms that suffer from a lack of light. Hardly surprising given that England is not blessed with sunshine for most of the year. If designing from scratch I opt for big windows, but this is not an option on most of our projects!

Dark rooms are actually not too difficult to work with. Whilst I do not profess to be able to make each one feel like a sun-drenched lounge in LA, I know that a few tweaks and a bit of investment ensure most rooms can be made to feel comfortably light.

Before investing a penny look at your light source. It may seem obvious, but keeping your windows spotless inside and out has a dramatic effect. Prune back overhanging foliage to maximise the light let into the room.

I know curtaining really makes a room and dresses a window, but the finish has a major effect on the light available. In rooms that suffer from lack of light, you need to ensure that as much of the window is exposed as possible.

A traditional curtain finish, such as a pencil or goblet pleat, results in a very full curtain that will cover the window. Try opting for dress curtains coupled with a blind to allow you privacy. The dress curtain will give you the same look, but block less light and be considerably cheaper.

Alternatively, an Eyelet heading will allow your curtains to stack back into a relatively small area. Combine these with a pole that extends beyond the extremes of your frame to allow the curtains to be drawn back away from the window; maximising light and still providing a terrific finish.

Colour is next on the list. Decorating in a dark hue will aggravate your problem as it they absorb light. However, you should also avoid beige, cream or off-white as these can feel cold and stark in poor daylight. Choose something with a definite colour in it (such as light green or earthy stone). Do not be afraid of adding interest with details in deeper colours as these will add warmth to the room.

It is important to decorate and furnish your room in a way that will make the most of any natural light that you have available. Consider wallpaper and fabrics with sheen finishes to them as they pick up any lighting (natural or electric) that you have in the room adding a comforting reflective glow. I am not talking Dynasty glitz (unless that is the look you hanker for!), just something with a softer finish.

Mirrors (and mirrored or eglomisé furniture) are a particular interior designers friend in this circumstance. Place a mirror opposite your window or light source (be that a doorway or even a fireplace) to amplify its effect.

Of course, electric light is always a helpful (if sometimes costly) solution, but is something you ideally want to use in the evening, rather than throughout the day to avoid oppressive, forced light.

Create pools of light with reading or table lamps strategically placed around the room at different levels to add interest. Couple these with picture lamps which are a great way of adding indirect light and highlighting individual pieces of interest. Also consider wall lights for general glow that is less harsh than overhead lights.

Placing uplighters in dark corners will give a soft, comfortable glow reflected from the ceiling. Alternatively, if you have cupboards, consider fitting hidden recess lights that create colour wash over the wall above, emphasising the illusion of natural light.

With these tips in place the light in your room should feel comfortably natural.

Send your interior design queries to Jamie Hempsall, BIDA at studio@jamiehempsall.com or call 01777 248463

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