Make a space light & bright

Ask Renovator Carolyn Munro

To make a space bright, use soft white and good lighting (Photo courtesy Carolyn Munro)

Dear Renovator,
We’re planning a new kitchen and family room, and we want it to be as cheerful, as bright, as possible. What are some of the things we should be thinking about?

Dear Homeowner,
There are so many ways you can brighten a space and make it not only feel cheerful but also make it functional, inviting, and energy-efficient.

You’re wise to plan first. Spend lots of time planning and thinking about what will best suit your lifestyle.

Light completely changes the dynamics of a space. I would give a lot of thought to windows. Depending on your budget, have windows as large as the space will allow. I often suggest corner windows where possible, because they create a beautiful, soft, natural cross-light.

Consider multiple other forms of lighting, too — recess lights, for example, or valance lighting in the kitchen. They should be on different switches with dimmers. For a beautiful, full but soft light, 4000 kelvin LEDs are superb. Any higher than 4000, however, means the light will be too blue. For a warmer light, 3000k LEDs are lovely. You might not think about the temperature of light, but it makes a dramatic difference. If you’re not sure, purchase one of each and see which light would suit your space, and of course your colour palette. 4000k is better with greys and pink tones.

I like to place recess lights in all four corners of a room to increase the light levels on those dull rainy days or in the evening.

Choose a style of products, finishes, and furniture that is bright and airy. Wood is beautiful, but use a lighter wood or painted furniture and cabinets.

Here’s a tip when it comes time to furnish your new space: Don’t use big dark objects like brown or black sofas that seem to be so popular. Keep drapes light – use sheers. The space should be simple and uncluttered.

Back to planning. Do you know how you will use your family room? Is it a place for quiet solitude and reading or playing board games, or is it a family TV-watching room?

If it’s for TV watching, make the TV the focal point of the room, especially if you have a large screen.

Don’t have a fireplace and a large TV screen on one wall so the TV screen is over the fireplace. That not only looks awkward, it is awkward. Your TV screen is best viewed at a lower height.

Depending on the size of your home, it’s nice to have an area or room where you can find some quiet time and enjoy the comfort of your fireplace away from your TV.

If you still prefer a darker wood in your kitchen, you can add painted cabinets to help create a brighter interior. There are many options. Darker lower cabinets, like the upper cabinets; or lighter wall cabinets and a darker island.  Same goes for the floor. If you like a dark floor, lighten the furniture, wall finish and window treatment.

Ideally the whole space should be as open as possible, with clean sightlines.

Remember that simplicity is beauty. For a bright, inviting room, think “minimalist” in looks but “high function” in the way you will use it every day. So, in addition to being a place where you want to linger, visit, have breakfast, invite friends, or just have time to your self, your new rooms must ultimately be practical.

It’s a tall order, but I bet you’ll think it’s worth it. Happy planning!

– Carolyn Munro

Carolyn Munro Design+Build

Make a family room bright and airy with big windows and light colours.