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Home Improvement Guide 2007
First things first
Before launching into any home improvement project you should carefully consider your motivations and goals.
First things first
Improving your home with light

American homeowners have a love affair with light.

And, as any good real estate agent will tell you, buyers are looking for spaces that are light, bright and airy.

But when it comes to actually creating that look, homeowners are still learning. "Lighting is the most ignored layer of building a beautiful room," says Christopher Lowell, the Emmy award-winning lifestyle expert and author of "Seven Layers of Design."

Lighting, along with the color and floor plan, sets the mood in a home. Lots of light creates a cheery atmosphere and makes the space attractive, upbeat and welcoming. A dark home or dark areas in a house will repel people, especially buyers, even if they don't realize what it is they don't like.

Not so coincidentally, there are many ways to brighten those dark corners and let in the light.

Let in the natural light
Want to brighten your home without raising your power bill? Start making the most of your natural light.

Begin with the basics: Take down the window treatments and really clean the windows. Getting off layers of winter grime and spring pollen can make a big difference in how much light gets into your home. Then, evaluate how well your window treatments showcase -- or block -- available natural light. The optimum is something that screens out unwanted light and gives privacy when you need it but can also be set to allow in a good amount of light.

The problem with many drapes, shades and blinds is that even when they're open, they block a good portion of the window -- and that's light your room isn't getting. Try blinds that roll up all the way past the window, folding screens that can be moved in front of a window for privacy or away from the window for light, and shutters that fold completely away from the window. You can also install drapery rods long enough so there is room to open the drapes and completely expose the windows, for maximum light.

Renovating for more light
If you've cleaned and thrown open the curtains and the room is still dark, you might need a lighting makeover. If you've got a little bit of money to spend and you're open to structural changes to your home, you can add things like larger windows, skylights and solar tubes.

You'll have to put up some cash for labor and materials, but the light you recoup will be entirely free.

Study the way the natural light hits your home. Where is it strongest in the morning? What part of the house gets light in the afternoon or evening? Where do you want more light?

-- Posted: April 4, 2007
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