Living Space: Let in the light without damaging your interiors
By Kathryn Weber
Homeowners today love a light-filled house. Interiors that are light and bright use less electricity for lighting, they feel good, it's easy to see, and they're just plain pretty.
But all that light can take a toll. Just like it can harm your skin, sunlight can damage and discolor your home's interiors. Learn how to let in the light while mitigating decay.
Sunlight is one of the greatest sources of damage to our home's interiors, and you don't have to live in a tropical locale to suffer its effects. Sunlight damage can be especially noticeable in houses that are oriented in sun-facing directions such as the east or west. Of course, any house with large windows can let in lots of light - and the damage that comes with it.
With time, the sun's rays will fade wood furniture, floors, carpeting, wallpaper, drapes and upholstery. It can be especially damaging to artwork. What's worse, just as sunlight exposure raises your risk of skin cancer, its effects on furnishing is also cumulative.
The best way to handle sun damage is to prevent it. But no one wants to live in a cave just because the upholstery won't fade. Fortunately, there are some stylish options that can help your house remain light and bright while protecting against UV damage.
Even simple steps can provide a lot of protection. If you have a vacation home, always close all blinds, drapes or shutters when you're not there. To protect furniture, use old-fashioned furniture covers (thebutlerscloset.com).
A less expensive option is to cover upholstery and wood furniture with sheets or painter's cloths to protect wood surfaces and bright upholstery colors. Make sure drapes are always lined to help restrict UV damage to the fabric.
Plantation or wooden shutters are popular window options, though they can detract from the view.
If you have large picture windows or want to preserve a special view, try sun or solar shades. These are often used in sunny locations like Phoenix and Las Vegas. Such indoor shades filter out light and offer various levels of transparency (theshadestore.com).
UV window coatings are another option. Many windows now come with such coatings, but if you have strong direct sunlight, the coating may not be enough to prevent all fading or damage.
The coatings can block excess sunlight, heat, glare and UV rays, but be sure to check before applying them to windows that already have coatings, because it can sometimes invalidate a window warranty or damage the window.
Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her web site, redlotusletter.com.