Let the light in – making the most of dark spaces

With rents rising globally, many people nowadays are opting to live in cheaper basement flats or work in dark office spaces without much natural light. But spending a lot of time indoors without the benefit of sunlight can be detrimental to your health. The body’s circadian rhythms are affected by the amount of natural light you are exposed to during the day. Scientific research has shown that spending too much time without sun exposure can make you tired, lower your immune system and even cause depression. This is a real problem experienced by night shift workers worldwide, as well as those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Sufferers report symptoms such as exhaustion, depression and lethargy, as well as panic attacks and being prone to illness.

If you’re awake during the day but spend much of it in a dark home or office, it’s most likely your own symptoms won’t be as severe.  You may well feel a bit off, though – tired, melancholic or poorly.

Thankfully, there are certainly things you can do to make your environment more hospitable and brighten it up even without much natural sunlight.

Paint it white

If your space is dark – bring brightness in by keeping the walls white. White makes spaces look larger and reflects the light better. There are many shades of white to choose from, both warm and cool. If you want to replicate the effect of sunlight, opt for warmer, friendly shades like magnolia. Alternatively, for a stark, modern look, you can choose a shade with more grey in it. It might not be as exciting as choosing a wild colour as part of your overall design, but it will do more to keep you happy in your space.

Use daylight bulbs

Daylight bulbs, also sometimes referred to as “full spectrum bulbs” replicate sunlight as much as possible. Artists love them because they can create a natural lighting effect even in otherwise poorly lit studios.  They can do the same for you. Daylight bulbs are great not just for lighting up the space but for improving your health and mood. They work wonderfully for both a home environment and an office environment to trick the brain into thinking it’s surrounded by natural light.

Unless you are particularly prone to SAD, sitting under a daylight bulb at work may be all you need to feel absolutely fine even if you’re positioned far away from a window. Place enough of them in a space and it will look almost as if It’s bathing in bright sunlight. The only downside these bulbs have is that they are expensive, although they last a long time. Some lighting designers attempt to replicate the look by using normal bulbs plus blue coloured gels.

Use reflective décor

If you’re into interior design, you may have heard about mirrors being a great way of making smaller spaces appear bigger. While that’s definitely true, mirrors have another quality that’s very useful for dark spaces – they reflect! Placing a mirror strategically so that it reflects the light into the room will help increase light levels without having to invest in more lights or daylight bulbs. If you’re short of both space and light, this is a simple, cost-effective trick that can improve things quite significantly. You might not want to cover your entire home or office with mirrors, but even a single mirror placed near a light can make a real difference to light levels. It’s worth experimenting to see how bright things can get.

Use LED lights

LED lights are very bright and while they don’t look natural, they are inexpensive and long lasting. They can be very bright, so can seriously light up a space. In fact, sometimes they are even too bright and need to be used sparingly.

A good use for such lights is to allow for nice touches such as houseplants, that can make any space feel more natural and homey. Many houseplants can thrive in dark conditions, but you can grow pretty much any kind of plant by using grow lights. Apart from helping your plants grow, these bright lights can also add some light to the space itself, making it more hospitable for you. Some information about how these work can be found on LumiGrowth, which also has some reviews of popular makes. If houseplants are not your thing, you can invest in simple LED spotlights or strip lights and place them in the darkest areas of your space. Combine with daylight bulbs to create a really bright atmosphere.