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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Ideas for brightening a room

dkiranFebruary 7, 2013
My husband and I just bought a house that we are totally in love with! It has everything we wanted- a two storied family room, huge sized kitchen, spacious bedrooms, game room et al. However, the only cause of concern seems to be the family room which in our opinion needs to be a little bright. The family room is a place where we think will spend most of the time, more like an all-purpose room sometimes- talking, eating, watching TV and entertaining the guests. So we definitely would want to have a ventilated space for all these activities.
Here are some areas I need advice:
1.The family room leads to a covered patio so there is less scope for letting natural light inside. Also, it faces to the north. So the sun is not seen during the entire day. I prefer natural light over artificial lighting. What do you think are possible solutions to bring in more light?
2.While choosing wall colors, what colors are to be considered in a house like this? What sort of furniture should we get? Are reclining sofas ideal? We also want to work with sectional sofas without blocking the fireplace or cluttering the space around.
Please note that the photos attached may appear to be bright. It could be a photography gimmick.
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I'm no designer, just a homeowner like you, but skylights come to mind. I used to have a north-facing living room with a vaulted ceiling (seems like you also do.) It was a ranch so not even that high. But I had two skylights and they worked wonder.
But I'm really interested in what designers have to say. I have a similar situation in my current house, and the ceiling's not vaulted, so do not want skylights.
    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:32AM
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Hi! Congratulations on your new home. We had the same problem with our space too and a friend who is an interior designer by trade told us that a space that doesn't get a lot of natural light will feel darker if we put dark furniture and accessories. We painted the room a cool greyish blue gray to brighten things up a bit. It made a lot of difference. Next, we had custom slipcovers made for our couch in white twill. Then we accessorized the room using mirrors, mirrored and shiny pieces to reflect light. A little sparkle didn't hurt. Finally, since you have dark floor, might as well replace your rug with a larger one in a color that is a little lighter to offset the color of the dark floors. Best of luck to you!
    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:42AM
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Don't know how much wall is above the covered patio, but you could add more windows.
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3 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:20PM
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Blinds Direct Canada
I would recommend raising the drapery rod about 6'' above the window it will look alot nicer. I would also recommend removing 2 of the panels and replacing the blinds with a silhouette type blind to really soften the look.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:38PM
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@deco : This is like a cathedral ceiling which slopes down to the patio. The first option we thought of was to add additional windows, but there is no space to add the windows.

@winkapot : Great Idea. I am now thinking of a decorative mirror over the fireplace and a glass center table. If you can post a picture of your space, I think that would be of great help. The furniture in the photo is the sellers'.
We have yet to buy the furniture, so I am flexible on that front. I am not sure if I should get a light rug and light colored recliner sofa and loveseat or have some contrast on that front. Here's one of the sofa idea we are thinking of along with a similar rug.

@ajess: Skylights are a good idea, but arent they expensive ? I believe there are alternatives called solatubes. However, I don't know how effective they are.
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:40PM
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Congrats on your new home. I don't see the problem as a complete light issue. I do not like the furniture placement. I would reorient the furniture or at least try it. It costs you nothing. I don't like how the couch cuts off the fireplace and I don't recommend placing your rug like that either. I would like you to look out the beautiful windows you have and also look at the fireplace. windows. My feeling is right now to put the couch either facing the fireplace with the back towards the stairs and windows or on the tv wall. Can you take a picture standing at the tv towards to other side of the room please.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:51PM
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What a lovely room! I agree with winkapot about using mirrors and reflective surfaces,and a cool blueish-gray color for the walls (it's even used in your reclining sofa pic!). Do you also plan to purchase a TV wall unit? If so, it might be nice in white (a few examples below) and there are some with glass shelves and lighting. Also, to maximize the natural light, consider keeping the window treatments very simple. You may not even need draperies, but if you do, white is probably best for keeping things bright. Just be sure to hang them so that, when open, they frame the window, rather than overlap it.
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    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:58PM
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@tennisanyone, you should read the entire thread prior to posting a comment. @dkiran explains that the furniture in the pictures belongs to the sellers, not her.
    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:04PM
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@cjohnston. Yes, I do see it now. I only read her initial thoughts. Would have helped if it was in the initial problem. I guess it is good news that she didn't buy the furniture yet so we can all comment.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:21PM
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Solatubes are great and depending on how much light you want and how many, they are very affordable vs skylights. We installed one in an upstairs bathroom on a steeply pitched roof for $600. What a difference! No need for lighting now except at night.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:23PM
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@winkapot I'm having the same problem and looking for a grayish blue paint color, would u mind telling me the paint color in the picture. The room looks beautiful and bright.
    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:24PM
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@tennisanyone: Exactly !. I personally did not like the fact that the fireplace was blocked and the furniture placement was not ideal. I'll take the photos when we go to the house again.

@cjohnston : I love the blueish color in the third picture (Parkinson Ave West), do you know the name of the paint color ? Also, I did not understand the part about framing the windows rather than overlap the windows when they are open. Are you saying that the drapes should be thin so that they do not cover the windows ?

@Elise: Great and the price seems very reasonable! How is the dispersion of the light ? I guess in a bathroom, it does not have as much area to disperse the light.. I am wondering, if in a larger room, even if we add two, will it disperse the light evenly across the room or will it look like just two bright spots. Also, how does it look from the outside with the tube thingie sticking out of the roof ? One last question, if we don't like it is it a pain to remove it ?
1 Like    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:59PM
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@cjohnston: We are not planning for a TV unit right now. Apart from budget issues, I think it will make the room look too busy. I want to wall mount the TV and keep everything else out of sight. What do you think ?
    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:01PM
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OK dkiran, at least we are on the same page. Glad to know that wasn't your arrangement. Looking forward to more pictures. I do love the space. I would just like to see the other side and how much wall space you have. If that is the only wall for the tv, then we will work with that. Again, congrats, on the new house.
    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:54PM
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@dkiran, the builder did not have the specific color but said Benjamin Moore's Silver Mist is similar. Yes, my draperies suggestion was confusing, wasn't it? @blindsdirectcanada gave a better explanation. Also maybe this pic will help. It shows that when the curtain is open, the entire window is visible, and the curtain isn't blocking any light coming in. I just looked at your overhead picture again and I can see where a TV unit might make things too crowded. A wall-mounted TV would look very nice... and it's budget-friendly!

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    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 4:11PM
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