Advertisement

Making a small space larger by adding a bamboo mural

October 03, 2009|By CHRISTINE BRUN / Creators Syndicate

As we greet October, the days are becoming noticeably shorter and the month presents us with fewer hours of daylight. Everyone requires balanced natural light for good health, particularly during winter months. Studies have shown that Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is caused by a lack of enough daylight. Emotional depression, a distinct decline in physical energy, increased appetite and the need for more sleep are symptoms of SAD. In addition to less daylight, the sun's rays are not as strong during autumn and winter months, which makes it more challenging to receive the proper amount of unfiltered ultraviolet light required for bones, teeth, muscle strength and mental health. Our bodies absorb 80 percent of Vitamin D through our skin when it is exposed to daylight.

In Scandinavian countries, notoriously dark and gray winters have long caused architects to strive in unique ways to capture as much natural light as possible so it should be no surprise that skylights were pioneered in Denmark. In buildings that are often centuries old and that share common walls, adding windows may not be feasible so builders began to insert skylights invented by Velux brand. Consider a skylight as a possible way to introduce more natural light into a tiny bathroom, hallway or bedroom. The light helps to expand the feeling that one experiences when inside the room.

Advertisement

If this solution is too costly, think about adding artificial light via a portable table lamp or a floor-standing lamp. This is very easy to accomplish and if your ceiling height is 9 feet or less, you might try a torchere style floor lamp that shoots light up towards the ceiling that then bounces around the room and illuminates a space quite effectively. You can buy very inexpensive models from $30 at stores like Target, Wal-Mart or Home Depot. Remember that we don't like to walk into a darkened room, so if you can arrange the wall switch so that it regulates some light, he room will become much more welcoming.

Another good trick is to introduce a light-filled image into the space that will mimic the effect of natural sunlight. The attraction to the work of Impressionist masters revolved around how they studied and captured the magic of sunlight in the world immediately surrounding their daily lives. Think of the sparkling light of Monet's water lilies at his country home in Giverney and the compelling splash of brightness that his work would bring to your room. You can replicate that by selecting the right type of wall art.

Depth and clear color pull the eye beyond the furnishings in the small area and the result is the impression of even more light. This is psychologically useful. Murals have been in existence since Greek and Roman times, but the wallpaper type of photographic mural was first noticed in the late 1970s. Technology has improved over the years and this example from MuralsYourWay is printed on an eco-friendly canvas background. With hundreds of imagery to pick from, MuralsYourWay begins at just under $12 per square foot. The murals are guaranteed not to fade or yellow for 20 years, which is a huge advance over the original murals of the '70s.

Art can be useful in creating a perception, but remember that everyone needs balanced light for positive health. Another affordable change that you can make is in the selection of light bulbs known as "full spectrum" lights. These replicate the same full spectrum of natural sunlight artificially and cost just pennies more. For example, a Phillips brand 40-watt fluorescent light bulb -- called Natural Sunlight -- that imitates sunlight is just $2 or so more than the standard type but gives you desirable natural light. You can also purchase portable full-spectrum lamps called BlueMax lamps.

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Small Space Living."

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|