I grew up on a densely wooded lot in a tiny town in Pennsylvania. Wayne often jokes that I grew up on Endor – ya know the forest moon on Return of the Jedi? Yeah, it was a bit like that – without the speeder bikes or Ewoks but with lots of playing in the woods, fort building and fire-fly catching.

Now, my father was absolutely adamant when the house was built that he didn’t want to cut any more trees than was absolutely necessary. This was fine of course except that it meant we had huge trees surrounding the entire house and well, it was DARK in there because the trees naturally blocked out sunlight. I remember my parents getting into ‘heated discussions’ because my mother wanted him to take down a few more trees and he was dead set against it. I think he relented eventually, compromising on removing a few of the closest ones. And I remember the difference it made when the house suddenly got a whole light lighter.

How to Make a Dark Room Lighter and BrighterP I N this to pinterest

If you remember my post from a few months ago, I decided swap to a lighter colour in my dining room – spending a lot of time in a dark space during the day was affecting me psychologically and I knew I needed to change it. I also created a handy flow chart to help you to decide whether or not to paint your room dark. In that post, I explored different factors that should go into making that decision, including how a darker room makes you feel. Going from a dark colour to a light one was a game-changer for me. It may seem obvious now but at the time, I hadn’t realised just how much that paint colour was affecting the amount of natural light the room got.

So there are times when a room may get less than an optimum amount of light and if painting the walls a dark colour and just ‘going with it’ isn’t an option, then how can you go about creating a light bright space? I’ve teamed up once again with Network VEKA today to share some ideas for bringing more light into a room. Some of these involve simple changes, some of them are a bit more involved but all of them will create more light in a space that lacks it naturally.

Change Your Wall Colour

eclectic boho glam living room Swoon WorthyP I N this to pinterest

So let’s talk about the most obvious option first. Dark paint colours look amazing, there is no doubt about that but a lighter colour scheme will naturally make a room look lighter. I mean, that’s kind of a given and why I decided to put this first on the list. The difference in terms of how bright my dining room is now is crazy and it’s made all the difference to how I feel. In my north east facing living room, I’ve gone the same route because the room just doesn’t get a lot of light during the day. So your room may simply need a swap of paint. Easy-peasy.

Change Your Curtains

art in the bedroomP I N this to pinterest

This is another easy one. If you have quite thick heavy curtains in a room, they will not only keep in the heat, they will also block any light coming into the space. So if you are looking to boost how much light you get, then consider swapping those heavy fabrics with lighter ones that allow the light to filter into the room. For privacy, install blinds or shutters that allow you to easily change the quantity of light that enters the room.

Is the reason you have heavy curtains due to drafty windows? Check out Network VEKA’s vast member database to swap your windows to more energy efficient ones.

Use Reflective Materials

There are so many materials these days that will reflect any light you do get and bounce it around the room. Mirrors are the most obvious ones – choose one that’s opposite a window and instantly double the amount of light a room gets. We used this trick in both our dining room and our living room and it’s made an incredible difference. Plus it’s pretty instant – hang mirrors and boom. Job done.

However, there are other materials you can also use to reflect light. Metallics naturally reflect light and while it won’t necessarily make your room 10 shades brighter, you will get a subtle effect of an increased amount of light in a space. Consider as well other light-reflecting materials like tiles, glossy paint finishes, lacquered furniture or anything with glass.

Check out the Pinterest board I created with Network VEKA for some additional ideas on reflective materials that are bang on trend.

Consider Your Flooring

We often forget about our flooring when it comes to brightening up a room but using a lighter, paler colour on the floor will actually increase how light a room looks. Painted floorboards are a beautiful idea and work well with lots of different styles – from Scandi to French to Farmhouse and in the right space, can look rather wonderful.

You might also want to consider a polished floor. While it will likely be a little harder to keep clean, a high shine finish will also bounce any light around a space.

Remove outdoor trees or bushes

Swoon Worthy - Edwardian home front patio after 6P I N this to pinterest

Much like what I talked about at the start of my post, if you have large trees or bushes that are hanging over your windows, you may want to think about pruning them back or removing them all together.

Bear in mind, if you do live in the UK, you may have to request planning permission to remove trees, even if they are on your property. Check with your local authority where you live to make sure you aren’t breaking the law or the tree isn’t already protected with a Tree Preservation Order. If your neighbours have trees that are overhanging and blocking light on your property, then it’s always best to contact your neighbour first and go through the appropriate channels to remove any branches that are overhanging on your own property.

Swap to a glazed front door

Entrance hallways, especially long narrow ones common in Victorian and Edwardian homes here, can often be kind of dark and boring (like mine!). Take advantage of any light that comes into the front of your property by installing glass transoms above or to the sides of your door or consider a door with glass windows. For privacy, you can always get frosted glass or a window film.

Change internal doors to glazed doors

I have always loved the look of French doors in a property. Not only do you get a much lighter, airier look than a solid door, you’ll also be able to ‘borrow’ any light from an adjoining room. Steel framed doors are very much in vogue at the moment as well and they just look spectacular as a feature with their black frame outlines contrasted against light walls. Very swoonworthy indeed.

Add or replace windows

Moving to suggestions that take a bigger investment, consider the windows you have. Can you benefit by swapping them for larger windows or perhaps even adding glass doors that lead to the outside? Think about where light comes from in a room – is it possible to add windows where there are none? The more windows you have, the more light your room will get. Seems obvious, right?

Add a skylight

For internal rooms, is it possible to bring in light from above? There are so many options now available on the market from Tubular Daylighting Devices (TDDs) to simple skylights that will brighten up a dark room or bring shafts of light into a dark hallway.

Remove internal walls

And finally, utilising a more open plan scheme in your home will always create more light in a home and a sense of openness. Borrowed light from any side of your home is allowed the freedom to move across to darker spots, maximising the natural light and creating a brighter space.

Let me just finish off by saying that I understand how hard it is to find reliable tradesmen. I’ve recently had experience of both kinds – good and bad – and I’ve had so many of you sharing your own stories of regret when it came to hiring work out. If you are looking to add new windows, skylights or doors, Network VEKA is a nationwide organisation representing only the very best local uPVC window and door companies in the industry.

What do I like about them and why have I teamed up with them on my blog? Well, becoming a member is extremely difficult and so the companies who belong to the network have to commit to upholding strict standards of workmanship, training and customer satisfaction. And once you become a member, those standards have to be continuously upheld. With a white glove service of care, knowledge and attention to detail, you’ll know you’re getting the best tradesmen around for your installation. The work they do is also guaranteed for 10 years. Seems like a win-win in my book, wouldn’t you agree?

So tell me, how have you brought additional light into your home?

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Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Network VEKA but all words and opinions are my own. I only work with companies I really like and think you will too! Thanks for supporting the brands that support Swoon Worthy!


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  • Alice DSeptember 26, 2016 - 3:45 pm

    Hi Kimberly, I love your blog! And this post is great! When I come to buy a house an absolute MUST is for it to be light and airy, you can’t beat it.
    Alice xxx

  • MeeraSeptember 27, 2016 - 2:32 pm

    Really fantastic guidelines here on having an airy bright home, which for me is essential! Stunning images too!ReplyCancel

  • PaulineSeptember 28, 2016 - 12:50 pm

    That must have been great, running around playing in all those trees. Ah bless the years of our youth. xx
    I’m lucky that all the front of our house is south facing, and I have a really big bay window, and the light pours through it. But the back of the house is dark. I totally agree that having a light floor dose make a room seem brighter, so going through my front hall, and in to the kitchen, I have black and white tiles, so even though we have now painted our kitchen cupboards navy and the walls are a light blue, the room doesn’t feel dark xxxReplyCancel

  • WillSeptember 28, 2016 - 3:56 pm

    Iron windows and iron pendants? I mean, can that just be my dining room already, please?! I love it! Great post and tips, hun! xxReplyCancel

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll know about my relationship with Tile Mountain. They are my go-to when it comes to anything tile related, not only because I write for their blog and provide consultancy work for them behind the scenes, but also because they do great tiles at incredible prices, trade-quality materials and they are just a fantastic company to work with. So of course, when they heard I was going to be giving my kitchen a bit of an upgrade, it was only natural we would work together on the project.

Tiling work in kitchen - Tile Mountain marble effect porcelain tilesP I N this to pinterest

When we first did some work on the kitchen (more than 5 years ago now!), I had chosen a white subway tile and used black grout. At the time, it wasn’t a common look really aside from seeing it in the odd magazine but I had no idea at that point what a huge trend it would become. Don’t get me wrong – I still liked it in the kitchen but I felt it was time for a change. I wanted a fresher cleaner look. Not just that, but when we’d originally done the work as DIY “newbies”, we failed to include a trim around the tops and edges of the tiles and it just never looked finished. It bothered me every time I was in the kitchen!

kitchen tiles before - note the lack of any trim and the tiles stopped at the worktop!P I N this to pinterest

Kitchen tiles before – note the lack of any trim and the tiles stopped at the worktop!

So this time around, I decided to go with the same Carrara marble-effect tiles from Tile Mountain that we used in our dining room fireplace. They are actually porcelain tiles from Italy. They have the most beautiful soft matt finish with a gorgeous varying grain and unless you knew they were porcelain, they would easily be mistaken for the real deal. The best thing about using marble-effect tiles is that they are super hard-wearing and won’t etch or stain the way real marble does. Plus? At around £40 per square meter, they are so much more affordable as an option. It’s a win-win all around.

Tiling work in kitchen - Tile Mountain marble effect porcelain tilesP I N this to pinterest

Tiling work in kitchen - Tile Mountain marble effect porcelain tilesP I N this to pinterest

I also decided to use the same brass trim that we used on the fireplace makeover. This was all intentional of course because the kitchen opens on to the dining room and so using the same materials ties the rooms together, making them a bit more cohesive.

Tiling work in kitchen - Tile Mountain marble effect porcelain tilesP I N this to pinterest

Tile Mountain were gracious enough to supply their own tiler on this job – Grant Housley who was such a perfectionist and who saved us the trouble of having to do the work ourselves. All week, Wayne has been staying late at work to paint the cupboard doors and end panels so having a bit of help on the tiling has literally saved us weeks of work and I was so grateful to Tile Mountain to provide us with someone who was incredibly skilled.  It took Grant 3 1/2 days to do the work this week and he’s done an incredible job.

Tiling work in kitchen - Tile Mountain marble effect porcelain tilesP I N this to pinterest

As you know, I’ve not had the best of luck in terms of finding tradespeople but Grant was so good-natured, a real perfectionist and problem-solver, professional and courteous. He was even great with my dog!

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I have no doubt this would have taken us quite some time to complete. Living in an old property (our house was built in 1906), none of the walls are straight or plumb so it takes a lot of work to get the tiles as straight as possible on the walls. It means packing out any areas of the wall that are uneven and making constant adjustments as you go to create square edges where there were none.

Tiling work in kitchen - Tile Mountain marble effect porcelain tilesP I N this to pinterest

My favourite part of this job has to be the tiles and trimwork around the windows. I decided to carry on the tiles to the floor here (if you look at that before pic above, you’ll see they stop at the countertop) and use tiles along the small shelf as well. I just love how they came out and I know watching Grant that these weren’t easy to do! The shelves were at different heights and weren’t at all straight but he made them work!

marble effect porcelain tiles with brass trim work along windowsillP I N this to pinterest

Bear in mind, the end panels of the cupboards are still missing here but I think it looks amazing anyway!

marble effect porcelain tiles with brass trim work along windowsillP I N this to pinterest

Here are a few more shots of the finished tiles…

marble effect porcelain tiles from Tile MountainP I N this to pinterestgold sink and tap with marble effect tiles and worktopP I N this to pinterest

I genuinely couldn’t be happier with my tiles! The elevate the entire kitchen now and Tile Mountain have been fantastic to work with as per usual. If you are interested in using the same marble-effect tiles in your next project, you can find them here and tell them I sent you! You can also request free samples so you can see exactly what they look like before you purchase them.

Also, if you are interested in a great tiler and your in the North/Midlands region, I can provide you details for Grant as well as he does some side jobs alongside his work with Tile Mountain so just let me know and I can get that for you.

marble effect porcelain tiles with gold hanging utensils and open storage in the kitchenP I N this to pinterest

Sorry for the lack of more pulled back photos! There is still plenty more to do and I don’t want to spoil the whole effect by showing you a space that is still only 75% finished but we’re getting close now so hopefully I’ll be able to share the full reveal in the next month or so!

A huge thank you to Tile Mountain and to Grant for working with me on this one! I adore my tiles and can’t wait to get this kitchen finished!

So in the meantime, what do you think of my tile choice? I’d love to hear from you!

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Disclaimer: I was provided tiles and a tiler free from Tile Mountain for my review but as always, all opinions, words and images are my own. I only work with companies I really like and think you’ll like too and I was incredibly grateful to Tile Mountain for getting on board with our project! Thanks so much for supporting the businesses that support Swoon Worthy!

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  • Karen - Making SpacesSeptember 23, 2016 - 12:14 pm

    Your kitchen is looking FIT!!!!
    Love those tiles. We’re going to be marble tile twinnies sooooon.
    **hi five**
    Can you send Grant over please? Ta xxReplyCancel

    • Kimberly DuranSeptember 25, 2016 - 12:02 pm

      Yay for Marble Twinnies!! If you need a tiler, let me know – he’s honestly brilliant and he can cover the Leeds area ;) xxReplyCancel

  • Anna InternationalSeptember 23, 2016 - 12:22 pm

    Oh holy cow! They are beautiful! And that trim is so perfect!
    We are about to start on the bathroom and I need to decide on tiles for the shower. We already have a marble-topped vanity as a sink unit so carrying this on in the shower could work really nicely. Would they be suitable for shower walls do you think? Anyway, will definitely get some samples from Tile Mountain. Plus we were intending to do the work ourselves, but we have the same problem of zero square surfaces in our house so the idea of getting Grant to come and do it for us is VERY tempting (not to mention quicker and a lot less mess I imagine!). I may well be in touch for his details soon. First we have to take down the ceiling, expose some beams, fit a Velux and plasterboard the ceiling and walls before we can even think about finishes. Yikes!
    Can’t wait to see the reveal! Good luck with the finishing touches! xxReplyCancel

    • Kimberly DuranSeptember 25, 2016 - 12:04 pm

      I would imagine they would be fine in a shower but it’s probably best to send a question to their customer services and they’ll let you know for sure! I know they are water resistant so they don’t need to be sealed or anything like that! And if you need Grant’s number, let me know and I’ll email it to you – he’s very very good and I know we wouldn’t have gotten the quality finish we did if we’d done it ourselves ;) Let me know when you’re ready! Thanks so much lovely and good luck with your project ;) xxxReplyCancel

  • SueliSeptember 23, 2016 - 1:49 pm

    What an amazing job! These tiles are so beautiful and the brass trim is just the cherry on top.

  • Susan L.September 23, 2016 - 2:37 pm

    We recently redid our master bath shower with over-sized subway tiles in a Carrara marble look. Held them up to the real thing in the store and couldn’t tell the difference, except that ceramic was 1/6th the cost of marble and no sealing. I plan to use them when we redo the guest bath and am considering them for the kitchen backsplash. Yours look great!! See mine here: http://www.bohohome.com/2016/07/rescuing-my-master-bath-from-1980s-reno.htmlReplyCancel

    • Kimberly DuranSeptember 25, 2016 - 12:05 pm

      Oh those are beautiful Susan!! Lovely job and think they’d make a gorgeous splashback too – honestly you really would never know they weren’t real marble ;) xxxReplyCancel

  • PaulineSeptember 23, 2016 - 2:58 pm

    It’s really coming together now, it’s looking good. The tiles are gorgeous, they go really well with the work surfaces, and that gold trim makes a big difference.
    I’m glad you’ve found Grant after, He who shall not be name. (Dick head for short)it looks like he’s done a good job and it looks like Quito approves. xxxReplyCancel

    • Kimberly DuranSeptember 25, 2016 - 12:06 pm

      Thank you lovely! Grant was a godsend especially compared to Dickhead! Hahaha! He’s done a lovely job and Quito definitely approves ;) xxxReplyCancel

  • JillianSeptember 23, 2016 - 2:58 pm

    Beautiful! I love marble and the brass just makes it even more chic. Good choice on the grout color. Very swoonworthy!ReplyCancel

    • Kimberly DuranSeptember 25, 2016 - 12:06 pm

      Aw thanks so much Jillian! It’s really starting to come together finally ;) xxxReplyCancel

  • WillSeptember 23, 2016 - 4:44 pm

    Oooooof, that brass trim is SO good. I love how this project turned out and you are right, it does feel so much fresher. Great upgrade! Happy weekend, lovely! xxReplyCancel

    • Kimberly DuranSeptember 25, 2016 - 12:07 pm

      Aww thanks darling! I’m so in love with the tiles now – it’s actually made the kitchen look bigger! Can’t wait to get the whole thing complete now but we’re getting there ;) Hope you having a good weekend yourself hun xxxReplyCancel

  • SandraSeptember 24, 2016 - 12:43 am

    I’m in love with the tile but specially the trim… to die for!!!ReplyCancel

    • Kimberly DuranSeptember 25, 2016 - 12:08 pm

      Ahh thanks Sandra! That trim is just the cherry on top, I love it! xxxReplyCancel

  • Bianca HallSeptember 24, 2016 - 8:09 am

    A-MAZING!! Nice work Grant and Tile Mountain. And you of course, for having such damn good taste.ReplyCancel

    • Kimberly DuranSeptember 25, 2016 - 12:08 pm

      Champagne taste, cava budget – that’s me! Hahaha! Thanks lovely xxReplyCancel

  • Maria - Dinki DotsSeptember 25, 2016 - 10:30 am

    Oh, this looks sooooo good! The brass trim finishes it off beautifully too – and having the tile on the window sills is another one of those touches which makes such a difference!!!

    Can’t wait to see the full finished room in all it’s glory – loving the peeks of black doors!! xxReplyCancel

    • Kimberly DuranSeptember 25, 2016 - 12:09 pm

      Thank you darling! It’s all coming together finally but still a ways to go – can’t wait til it’s all done :) xxxReplyCancel

  • Laura SSeptember 25, 2016 - 1:28 pm

    Absolutely Gorgeous! The marble affect is providing serious inspiration for my bathroom makeover! XxReplyCancel

  • MelSeptember 25, 2016 - 7:04 pm

    I am genuinely so excited to see the finished result of your kitchen it’s ridiculous 😆

    Mel ★ http://www.meleaglestone.co.ukReplyCancel

  • MeeraSeptember 25, 2016 - 11:16 pm

    Swoon swoon swoon! Your tiles are GORGEOUS and the brass trim finishes them off so beautifully! Completely loving the whole look with the dark bottom cabinets, brass hardware, white worktop and marble-look tiles. We’re going to be kitchen twins when I get to renovate my kitchen!!! ;-)ReplyCancel