Bright Ideas to Increase Space & Light in Your Home

The Sunday Times – Ask the Expert with Mark Davies

“I recently bought a house that needs to be fully refurbished from rewiring to plastering. I also think it could do with a small extension at the back. It’s dark and damp at the moment though, do you have any ideas for brightening it up”?

I come across many old houses, such as the one you describe, that may seem like lost causes but have huge potential. When building to the back, many homeowners think about the additional space they will gain, but don’t consider the impact the extension will have on existing spaces within the house. In the past, when they did think about light, they did such things as leaving the window in the old room to try to deflect some light from the new room. This led to unsightly extensions that looked as though they were lobbed onto the back of a house without becoming part of it.

Generally, I would advise locating a new living, dining space and kitchen in the extension to the rear, and opening that room to the back garden through floor-to-ceiling glazing and doors like I did here. This will allow the natural daylight to flood the space and, importantly, provide you with a visual connection to the garden. When adding an extension to the back though, you must remember that it will create a“middle area”, which is generally dark.

My suggestion here is to put a lavatory or utility room, or both, into this space—these are two rooms that don’t need lots of light but can be valuable in your home. Another option would be to light the middle area by incorporating a roof window into the new extension, which will help to direct light into the darker spaces. The type of roof window to be installed will depend on the roof it is to be inserted into. For example, is it flat or pitched roof? We tend to use flat roofs as, unlike pitched roofs, they don’t break the eye line from your first-floor rear windows.

Before you build an extension, though, you must ask if your house really needs it. Another option is to forgo the extension and any demolition and brighten up the existing rooms. There are clever tricks to transform a dark space. First, the use of lighter paint colours can help to create a brighter feel the space and would be the least expensive way to approach the problem, although the end result will be limited. Avoid dark bulky furniture. You would be amazed at how much visual weight it adds to your space.

For example, if you have a dark dresser, try swapping it with a lighter-toned table that has legs so that you can see the floor. Third,well-placed mirrors can visually expand a room and reflect light, making any space feel bigger and brighter. The dark feel of a house is often intensified by clutter. If you want a bright room, you should consider embracing minimalism. Good luck with your new home, and have fun in whatever you decide to do. If you have any other queries for us send them on via our contact form below.