Good Questions: How Do I Brighten My Outdoor Space?

Good Questions: How Do I Brighten My Outdoor Space?

Maxwell Ryan
Sep 27, 2005

Hello AT,

We are moving into new apartment with a great outdoor space. Problem is its in the back and there is a tall building directly behind it. As a result very little direct sunlight hits the space, for brief periods of time throughout the day, so it stays somewhat dark. We are trying to figure out ways to maximize the light that does enter. One thought was painting or placing reflective surfaces on the building behind us.

Any ideas for techniques, materials or places to find them.

Thank you. - Morlock who wants to be an Eloi

(Note: Include a pic of your problem and your question gets posted first.)
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Dear Morlock, we wish you had sent in a photo! Nevertheless, here are our suggestions based upon our own experience with a ground floor rear apartment that also gets very little light.

.5 We would avoid reflective surfaces as we consider them too stimulating and mirrors don't age well outside.

1. Get plants in. This may not have to do with light, but it does have to do with how your space feels, how the air smells and the energy flow of the area. We experimented for a long time and lost about 20% of the plants we put in, but everyting is now stable. Composting or fertilizing is a must. putting your planting boxes around the edges where the green stands against the walls will GREATLY enhance the space.

2. White gravel. We carried in bags and bags of white gravel and it not only made a much nicer surface underfoot that drains more quickly, it brightened up the space.

3. If it's a wall, paint it a light color. We had a fence behind us which we painted a light off-white and it made a HUGE difference. We want to paint it again, this time a more colorful French orange. Color will wake up the space as well.

4. Candles! Whether you are entertaining inside or out, lighting candles in your yard will make your space seem bigger. We use outdoor lanterns from Ikea.

5. Paint your windows on the outside as well. Any light surface will help to reflect the light and the surfaces around the openings of your windows will make a big difference in bouncing the light INTO your home.

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