What are good options for replicating sunlight in my apartment?
February 20, 2015 5:34 PM   Subscribe

My living room in my new apartment doesn't have windows, and right now it feels like a cave. I would appreciate suggestions for light fixtures/bulbs or other ways to light it so that it feels like it is lit with natural sunlight.

I just signed the lease on a new apartment. It's in a cool neighborhood, clean, recently renovated, all good, except for the fact that the only windows are in the bedroom and bathroom. The bedroom has a huge window and is very bright. The living room, on the other hand, doesn't have any windows, and the only natural light that gets in is what manages to come through the transom between the bedroom and living room.

Right now, it feels like a cave. What are some good options for lighting it so that it feels like it is lit by natural sunlight? If possible, specific light bulb/light fixture recommendations would be much appreciated.

posted by tokaidanshi to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Full-spectrum or restricted spectrum bulbs are pretty easy to come by these days. We use these very bright MR16 LED bulbs, and at the 6000K range they're very reminiscent of daylight. Just avoid lights rated in the 3000K temperature/color range--go above that--and you'll avoid the warm colors we associate with most indoor bulbs. Plus the LEDs are cool, unlike the halogen lamps we were replacing, so they feel safe and cool (and efficient) to run.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:43 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, that lighting and mirrors!
posted by donaken at 5:51 PM on February 20, 2015

Is it possible to place a mirror (or mirrors!) that might bounce some of that sunlight into the living room from the rooms that *do* have windows?
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:30 PM on February 20, 2015

Is it possible to just switch rooms and make your bedroom into your living space? Maybe put up some kind of room divider to hide the bed/create a hallway if your entry door opens up into it?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:44 PM on February 20, 2015 [9 favorites]

A big plant, with a small spotlight on the floor to shine up through it, brings in some nature. Go to poster sites or shops and find a poster that has nature, clouds, sun, stars or other representation of 'outside.' It helps it not feel so cave-ish. A decorative mirror with a light pointing at it emulates a light source. Put some of your lights on the same switch so you can turn on several lights at once, otherwise you may just turn on a light, and not bother. LED bulbs make this not an environmental crime.
posted by theora55 at 7:05 PM on February 20, 2015

I like what the designers have done on the 2nd image in the last row: 3 light walls + contrast wall; strong tall diffused light fixture; small halogen spots over the tv; plants.

You might also look into installing an LED bar light behind your sofa -- it won't look like natural sunlight, but will make the room bright and cool in a designer/lounge sort of way.
posted by apparently at 7:08 PM on February 20, 2015

This device carries sunlight to dark corners through optical fibers. This one directs sunlight from outside to dark rooms (think you need to install it outside).
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:21 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

If money is no object (which is unlikely I know) how about a Coelux?
posted by reshet at 8:18 PM on February 20, 2015

As a plant lover, I strongly disagree with everyone recommending you get plants. Without sunlight they will starve to death. Don't be cruel!
posted by congen at 8:59 PM on February 20, 2015

Lots of plants do very well in spaces with no windows! I used to work in a basement office. I had several healthy plants and a big picture on the wall that looked like a window looking out onto the Mediterranean Sea.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:51 AM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I came in here to point to the Coelux.

Another idea is to make a light wall that seems like a floor to ceiling window. The idea is to install LED bars along the entire floor and ceiling in one side of the room - about 10 cms from the wall. This wall must be painted white.
Then put up a translucent curtain in front of the whole wall - flag-cloth is good.
posted by mumimor at 4:19 AM on February 21, 2015

Is it possible to just switch rooms and make your bedroom into your living space?

Please don't do this. Living rooms without windows may be dreary, but bedrooms without windows are fire traps.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:41 AM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Can you take down the door, and put it back up when you leave?
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:30 AM on February 21, 2015

Can you paint? I have a room like this in my apartment and asked my landlord for permission to paint it a light, warm yellow. That along with good lighting makes it a cozy, sunny room.
posted by TwoStride at 9:51 AM on February 21, 2015

I live in a windowless basement. I have this lamp and love it.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:28 AM on February 21, 2015

In my cave-like living room, I have a few table lamps here and there, but they sort of just mark each area without illuminating the room. What really helps is shining a light onto the white ceiling. The light reflects all over the place without any harsh shadows. It give an airy feeling (sorry, hard to describe) and feels like the room is opened up. I use a torchiere with a translucent white shade. Mine is a super-cheap one from Ikea; its only drawback is that I have to put books on the base to keep it from tipping over when someone brushes against it.
posted by wryly at 10:53 AM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

There is a new invention that looks really cool. It is light that looks like natural sunlight and was developed in Italy.
Check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ4TJ4-kkDw
posted by Irish1930 at 11:20 PM on February 21, 2015

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