Kitchens are often considered the focal point of the home, where meals and conversations among friends and family members are shared. Because of the versatility of this living space, the most practical kitchens are light, airy, and inviting for homeowners and guests alike. However, not every home is fortunate to have the ideal kitchen space (especially older homes), and renovations are costly. To save the time, expense, and stress of conducting a renovation, while still receiving the benefits of a brightened kitchen space, we have gathered 5 easy and inexpensive hacks to let the light in.
One of the easiest ways to add extra light and create the illusion of more space in the home is by adding decorations and furniture pieces with reflective surfaces. Using metallic accents like wall art or knick knacks placed on shelves can add small, but mighty touches of light. Facing these items towards windows is most effective in reflecting natural light into a dark kitchen space. Examples of decor include vases, serving platters, glassware, and ceramics. If you are looking to go one step further, consider adding a backsplash with a glossy finish to bring an extra reflection; adding shiny hardware to your cabinets and drawers is another simple way to change the look of your kitchen.
If your kitchen does not have a vital source of natural light to reflect into the room, another option is to use strategically placed decor items to create lighting effects found in nature. According to Amber Dunford, style director at Overstock, “Humans prefer to be under dappled lighting, which is the same light you might experience when the sun shines through leaves on a tree.” To achieve this look artificially, she suggests using light pendants and/or lamps that are woven. The light source will shine through the gaps in the baskets, creating a soft, dappled look you would see from trees outside. To enhance the natural lighting look further, Dunford suggests bringing any type of earthy decor into the kitchen area. For example, live plants placed in neutral-toned decorative pots or woven baskets can brighten up a dark corner. Placing fresh herbs in the kitchen also enhances the scent of the area, which contributes to the space feeling more open.
Did you know that how reflective a paint color is, is more important than the actual hue? When it comes to brightening your kitchen, the paint color’s light reflective value (LRV) rating should be between 50 and 100. The higher the LRV rating, the more reflective the color is; in contrast, the lower the LRV rating, the more light the color absorbs. In addition to considering the LRV of color, interior designer Jenna Randolph David suggests painting an accent wall first before committing to all-over color. The accent wall acts as a sample that allows you to see if the color compliments your appliances and other decor and adds an illuminating effect.
Cabinets are seen as the kitchen’s primary focal point, drawing attention to themselves as soon as you step foot in the room. If your upper cabinets are dark and bulky, they likely cast dark shadows against the entire kitchen, causing your counters, floors, ceilings, and walls to appear darker and smaller than they are. A simple solution to dark cabinets is to paint or stain them with lighter wood color. If you want to achieve an even lighter look, David recommends removing some upper cabinet doors to mimic the look of open shelving. When choosing the items to display on these new “shelves,” use white or light-colored ceramics and glass accents to further create a reflective space.
While you may not be able to change your overhead kitchen lighting completely, you can incorporate additional lighting sources that work to shift the mood of the space. There are four types of lighting you can incorporate, which include ambient, task, accent, and decorative. You can use LED strips, puck lighting, or light fixtures underneath your cabinets to create a bright glow that illuminates dark areas of your kitchen. Get trendy by adding small lamps to your counter, and perhaps you can use filtered shades to create the desired dappling effect mentioned above. You can also opt for colored shades to add some warmth to a fluorescently lit area.
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