Designer Gretchen Black offers tips for maximizing the natural light in your home.
Stunning, natural light is a valuable commodity in any home. Whether you’ve got limited illumination or an abundance of brightness, designer Gretchen Black—owner of Greyhouse Design and part of the Southern Living Designer Network—offers her tips for boosting brightness wherever you need it.
Do Hue: “Paint color is key,” says Black, who encourages her clients to walk through their home and consider how they’ll use each area before choosing a color palette. “Light colors reflect light—it bounces around,” she explains. She tends to favor soft grays on the walls, suggesting that clients save dark colors for accents like pillows and curtains. And before you commit to your color, Black advises living with it. “Try it on the walls and look at it during different times of day,” she says.
Be Reflective: “Mirrors are always a great way to bounce and reflect light,” notes Black. Proper placement—ideally across from larger windows—can enhance what light you do have and give the illusion of more space. “I like big mirrors,” she adds, “but you can achieve the same effect by using smaller mirrors within a gallery wall, hanging them alongside your picture frames.”
Treat It Right: Window treatments play a tremendous role in how much light can actually get into your space. In Black’s region in Kentucky, wooden shutters and blinds are the design du jour—but she suggests using them only in rooms where privacy is key, such as bedrooms and kids’ rooms. In other areas, the designer suggests pinch-pleat drapes. “They add color and texture to your room, but they can also be easily moved aside to allow for the flow of daylight.”
See Clearly: For Black, windows are an integral part of any design. Her go-to choice: Marvin. “They come in different finishes and look absolutely beautiful,” she says. In her own home, Black opted for Ultimate Double Hung G2 windows from the Marvin Signature Collection. “I love to highlight the architectural interest of these windows,” she explains. “And they have two sashes that open to allow for easy cleaning. As simple as it sounds, a cleaner window lets the daylight flood your room.”
Light It Right: Whether you’re using pendants, sconces, or recessed lighting, Black suggests having dimmers. “You can adjust the light as you need it,” she says. “It’s an inexpensive way to do something great for your home.”
Know Your Place: “Place furniture how you’re going to use it, but keep your views in mind,” suggests Black. For example, she advises placing your bed to face windows so that you can make the most of morning light. If you’re loyal to deep-hued woods that can be overpowering, it’s key to add balance. “Try light-colored coverlets on beds with dark wood frames to reflect some light,” she says.
Originally published on SouthernLiving.com.