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Homes & Living some fixes for those dark rooms
A good tape measure is essential for DIYing, and the 5m Stanley FatMax Pro Tape Measure is as good as they get. A 10m version is also available, but the 5m is long enough for many measuring tasks and small enough to fit easily in your pocket or clip on your belt. It has a wide, 32mm blade with big, easy-to-read numbers in both metric and imperial. The blade stays rigid when extended, unlike many tape measures, and has special coatings to prolong its life. The rubberised casing is comfy to hold and stands up well to wear and tear, while the corrosion-resistant Tru-Zero end hook enables you to measure accurately from the end of the blade. This isn’t the cheapest tape measure, but it’s worth paying a bit more for a great product that’s designed to last – cheap versions are often a false economy. Any room can be made to feel lighter simply by painting the ceiling white, so it reflects light instead of absorbing it, and, of course, the walls too.
Specialist emulsions can help even more. Dulux Ultra White Matt emulsion is not only a really white white (unlike most pure brilliant white emulsions, which are offwhite), it’s also 20 times tougher than standard Dulux emulsion. Most importantly, Ultra White contains special light-reflective particles that reflect up to twice as much light back into the room as standard Dulux emulsion.
For soft, subtle colours, try Dulux Light + Space Matt emulsions, which contain the same light-reflective particles. North-facing rooms are most challenging to decorate because the natural light is cold. For this reason, avoid cold colours and stick to warm ones, such as yellows and creamy neutrals.
One of the best ways to brighten up a kitchen is with pale – preferably white – high-gloss unit doors, as these bounce light around the room.
High-gloss kitchens never seem to go out of fashion, so glossy doors are a great way to update the room and needn’t be expensive. In any dark room, but especially kitchens and bathrooms, it’s important to have good artificial lighting because you may need it on when it’s light outside.
In other rooms, consider going for glossy or mirrored furniture, and hanging mirrors on the walls – opposite a window will maximise the light coming in and make the room feel bigger. And don’t forget the floor – white-painted floorboards, or shiny white floor tiles in kitchens and bathrooms, will help to bounce light around.
Replacing, enlarging or adding windows can make a big difference to how light a room is, but it’s an expensive and disruptive solution to the problem, and planning rules can restrict what you do.
Changing the window treatment is usually much cheaper – swap fussy curtains for sleek roller blinds, for example, and you’ll let in more light.
Another radical solution is to remove a wall.
Knocking two rooms into one usually gives the new room more windows and it may get sunlight for most of the day if, say, it’s now both east facing for morning sun and west facing for evening sun.