Natural light is a generator of health and cheerfulness: most people can vouch for that. Rooms flooded with natural light are highly sought after, because their brightness raises the spirits and enhances decor.
The source of natural light in most homes is, of course, the windows. As a result, the window is a vital aspect of interior design and decoration: when handled correctly, a window can transform a dull, oppressive interior into a welcoming oasis of calm. It makes sense to optimise and maximise the natural light in any home, but how can this be done?
Fortunately, there are many quick and simple ways to get the best from a window. The first is to look at the room as a whole: are the walls and accessories light and bright or dull, oppressive or cluttered? Natural light can be bounced around a room to great effect using light coloured paints or wallpapers, and a few well-placed mirrors can ramp up the effect even further.
The next thing to look at is the window dressing. Heavy curtains in rich colours and fabrics such as velvets and heavy satins can be great for keeping in the warmth but are the enemy of sunlight, so if light is needed it may be better to seek an alternative, or at least find a way of keeping the heavy curtains well away from the window glass during daylight.
Needless to say, a translucent or light coloured and textured curtain fabric is best if light is a priority. However, these do not always have to be shop-bought, nor made from standard curtaining materials. Many creative homeowners have had great success making curtains from upcycled items such as saris (the metallic threads and mirror inserts in Asian fabrics can work wonders with light, giving sparkle and interest), or even vintage clothing.
Of course, there are plenty of alternatives to curtains. Shutters, and in particular custom measured wooden shutters, are increasingly popular because they give the homeowner so many options. Shutters come in various forms: plantation shutters, particularly those with adjustable slats, can be a great way of allowing light into a room while retaining some privacy. Another option is to fit solid wooden shutters that can be thrown open during in the day, letting in ample light, and closed at night.
Wood is a great option for window dressing because it is renewable, and so environmentally friendly, and long lasting. It can also be painted (and later re-painted): in parts of Europe, the Caribbean and central America the locals take great pride in painting their shutters in joyful, bright colours and designs – why not have a go?
Finally, it is always worth considering whether a window actually needs much dressing during the daytime. It may be that if shutters are used at night, there really is no need to obscure the window at all while the sun is out, especially if the room in question does not demand privacy, or tend to over-heat. Sometimes, the best option is simply to let the light shine in.