In one of our most recent renovations, the homeowners wanted to use their first floor differently as empty nesters and have more of an open feel from the family room into the kitchen for entertaining. That got us thinking about our tips for ways to lighten and brighten your home with a home renovation project. Here’s what we came up with:
Tip #1: Bring the outside “in”
One of the easiest ways to make your home feel brighter and more open is by bringing the outside in. This can be achieved by adding large windows or glass doors that let in natural light and offer a view of the surrounding landscape. You can also incorporate elements of nature into your interior design by using natural materials like wood or stone, or by adding plants and flowers to your decor.
This is an example of how we brought the outside “in” with an exterior sunroom renovation that included the removal of heavily stained French doors along with the side windows on the same wall. Doing so allowed for the installation of one large floor-to-ceiling window opportunity, allowing in all of the natural light that we wanted.
Also, an updated ceiling fan was added for better air circulation, a new color treatment on the ceiling (whitewash), and a lighter and brighter wall color. Exposed thin brick used was put on either side of the wall to create the illusion of a brick wall, making it seem more like the room flows together with the family room. A floor-to-ceiling slider was added to the exterior for better traffic flow.
Tip #2: Out with the old, in with the new
A dated design element can weigh down your living space and make it feel darker and less inviting. Consider updating it to something more modern, or removing it altogether for a more streamlined look. This will give your home a fresh, contemporary feel that’s perfect for entertaining or relaxing with family and friends.
In this project, a dated fireplace mantel was one of the trickiest elements in the home to renovate the right way. The old mantle had large heavy Corbils and a very tailored look. The TV was positioned above the mantel and with the Sonos soundbar, it was just too high for comfortable viewing.
We lightened up the space by adding shiplap painted white on the accent wall, moving the TV to another wall completely, and adding an updated mantel that marked up with the entryway beams. The inside of the fireplace was painted black and the screen was removed since it also made the space feel heavy and dated.
Tip #3 Open up the floorplan
If your home feels cramped or closed off, consider reimagining the floor plan to create more open space. This may mean removing walls or adding windows and glass doors that connect different areas of your home. A more open floor plan will not only make your home feel brighter and more spacious, but it will also make it easier to navigate and entertain in.
In this case, we removed a cased opening that blocked the family room of the 80’s from the kitchen to lighten and brighten the entire first-floor entertaining area. Of course, changing the floor plan of the home often results in necessary changes to the flooring. Selecting the floor stain was “among the top three stressful decisions we made about this entire renovation!”
Yes, it matters that much. It is important to select a stain for a timeless update … not a trendy one.
Tip #4 First impressions matter
Simple updates to the entryway can go a long way toward lightening your entire home. Your entryway is your guests’ first impression of your home so it should be as inviting and bright as possible. Simplify your entryway by removing clutter, adding a fresh coat of paint, and incorporating plenty of natural light. You can also add a statement piece like a modern chandelier or a piece of artwork to create a focal point that draws the eye in.
A popular renovation for homes originally built in the 1980s and 1990s is to update the staircase as part of the entryway renovation. For this project, black baskets were replaced with simple, clean square balusters, the original handrail was painted black, along with the treads which then had carpet added, as well. A new lighting fixture was installed to replace the heavy ornate fixture along with a french door to the basement and continuation of the exposed brick to give the basement descent a feeling as it belongs with the rest of the house versus being blocked off.
Tip #5 Focus on the heart of the home
The kitchen is often the heart of the home, so it’s important to make it a bright, inviting space that’s perfect for cooking, entertaining, and spending time with family and friends. It’s not necessary to change the blueprint of the kitchen to make a big impact. Update your kitchen by replacing dated appliances, adding modern lighting fixtures, refreshing countertops, backsplashes, and cabinets, and incorporating natural materials like stone or wood. This will not only make your kitchen look more beautiful, but it will also make it a more functional and enjoyable space to use.
The updates to this kitchen were pretty straightforward and simple but made a huge difference in lightening and brightening the entire first-floor living area. Updates included:
- Lowering of the two-story island for better visibility and counter height seating
- A waterfall edge quartz countertop in place of the heavy granite countertop
- Taking the wall cabinets all the way to the ceiling, as well as the backsplash
- Updating the hood with a custom finish and metal strapping, offsetting paint color on the island
- Updating fixtures, cabinetry hardware, and faucets
- New appliances that give the illusion of a custom feel
- Lighting was added throughout and a new Pella picture window
- Beams added to enlarged cased opening
- Coffee bar and entertainment/storage area to allow for bar captaining with ease without missing the party!
Check out Susan’s conversation with the homeowner, Megan James, and the Designer, Molly Croak of Couture Designs, about this most recent renovation. Check out more home design tips and details about other projects on our blog and follow along on Pinterest, Houzz, Facebook, and Instagram to find what inspires you.
Are you ready to get started on your epic transformation?