We all know that natural light is good for us. It can boost your Vitamin D levels, improve your metabolism, influence positive sleeping habits and have positive impacts on our moods. But how can we utilise natural light in interior design to enhance the myriad benefits it offers?

The NHS reports that in the UK alone an estimated two million people suffer from ‘the winter blues’, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which is, in part, due to darker days and longer nights. Natural light plays such a huge part in our emotional and cognitive wellbeing because of our circadian rhythm, our natural programming to function in a solar day, aiding us to be more alert in times of daylight.

With us nowadays spending more time indoors (especially in the dark, dreary winter months), there are some very simple, yet effective changes we can make to bring more natural light into our lives, homes and offices (without booking an all expenses paid trip to the Caribbean).

Read on for some valuable ideas from CMS Interior Designer Emily.

Natural light in interior design

The magic of mirrors

Mirrors reflect light, and a well-positioned mirror can bounce sunlight all around a room. Have you ever wondered where the phrase smoke and mirrors comes from? It’s the ability to make things look not as they seem.

This works for the majority of reflective surfaces too; a high gloss kitchen, polished chrome ornaments or photo frames, polished light fittings. The possibilities are endless. An added bonus is that as well as reflecting all of that lovely natural light, it makes your room look bigger too.

Invest in an SAD lamp

Using an SAD lamp is a quick and simple fix to synthetically improve natural lighting and to help improve those winter blues.

By sitting in front of a SAD lamp with a high lux (the unit of illuminance) output, we can trick our bodies into thinking we are in natural daylight and our brain will start to produce serotonin (a chemical within our bodies that induces feelings of prolonged happiness).

Here are my top three therapy lamps for your home or office:

Lumie® Halo SAD & Energy Light Therapy Lamp 10,000 Lux – from £182.50, Lumie

Beurer TL 50 SAD Therapy Light, White – £79.99, John Lewis

Wellness USB Lamp – £38, Dunelm

Window treatments

Whilst I am a self-confessed maximalist, heavy curtains and pelmets can massively reduce the amount of light coming in through your windows, and make a room look much smaller and darker than it really is.

There are many different ways to make your windows look beautiful with large drapes, swags and tails, however. You could opt for a voile curtain, which even when drawn lets in plenty of natural light, or a Roman blind which could be bold and colourful, but when drawn lets plenty of light in.

Venetian blinds and fitted shutters are also a great option should you require some privacy at certain times of the day – they slats can be opened to let in as much light as you require, or completely opened to flood your room with light. 

Natural light in interior design

Strategic use of colour

Colour can affect us in many ways, but did you know that the orientation of a room can affect how a colour looks? Let’s take a look at how this works.

North Facing Rooms

Whilst north facing rooms do receive natural sunlight, it is often cooler in nature and can occasionally be less frequent than other rooms in the home.

If you want to brighten up a North facing room, try to avoid cold colours (like grey and blue) and invest in something light and breezy. Pinks and yellows work well, and you could even try out Pantone’s 2024 colour of the year ‘Peach Fuzz’ here.

South Facing Rooms

Unsurprisingly, south facing rooms receive natural light in abundance. Hence this is the room where anything goes, and whilst the nature of this post is to encourage brightness, sometimes, with a glaring summer sun, bright colours (such as a bright white) can be too glaring.

East & West Facing Rooms

The type and intensity of light in east and west facing rooms will vary depending on the time of day. East facing rooms will benefit from natural light in the morning, and west facing in the late afternoon.

The colour choice for these rooms will be dependant on their intended use. For example, if your breakfast room is west facing and will naturally be dark in the morning when it is used the most, consider the use of dimmable ceiling lights rather than standing lamps and choose a colour that is wonderfully fresh.

Alternatively, for a cosy snug used mostly in the evenings that has a glare from summer sun, consider your use of window treatments and go bold on colour.

Natural light in interior design

So there we have it. Four different ways you can incorporate natural light in interior design, to maximise the wellbeing benefits that natural light offers. Which will you go for?

If you would like support on your interior design project, please get in touch to explore how we might be able to work with you. We would be delighted to hear from you.