A Too-Sunny Room: Why It’s a Problem, What You Can Do

I know, I know, first-world problems, right? But when you move into the home of your dreams, only to find that one or more of those deliciously “light, bright” rooms (in the real estate broker's words) gets so much sunshine you can’t use it most of the day … well, it does begin to seem like a big deal.

I’ve been there, done that. Now I’m here to validate your perceptions and tell you exactly why an overdose of sunshine is hazardous to your home comfort and how you can fix it.

Problems with an Overly Sunny Room

Heat. Nice warm sunshine is usually considered a good thing, but an overabundance is a lot like an all-chocolate diet – delightful in theory, but awfully uncomfortable in practice. Why? Too much sunshine will heat your home excessively. You may end up spending a fortune on air conditioning in an attempt just to cool it down to a tolerable level.

Light. Some of us are larks, and some of us are … well … night owls. If you’re the former, you might not mind being woken by a flood of cheerful morning light at, say, 5 am. If you’re the latter, not so much. And if you’re a night owl and you have a baby, you might be trying desperately to make your sweet little chick a bit less larklike. This means reducing sensory stimulation in the nursery – including the amount of light.

Glare. Unless you live in a cave (mmm! a nice dark cave!!) somewhere, screens are an essential feature of contemporary life. Unfortunately, sun and glare go together like summer barbecues and mosquitoes, making it next to impossible to comfortably view the screen of your TV, laptop, or handheld device.

Distortion. In extreme sunshine, you’ll be limited in the shades you can choose to paint your room. Vibrant or fluorescent colors will tend to look all wrong – the sun will distort them and make them seem too harsh. Even white can give a feeling of “too much,” since it reflects and intensifies the ambient light.

Fading. Direct sunlight will fade most decorating fabrics which contain any natural fibers like cotton, linen, silk, or wool. That includes your furniture upholstery, antique Persian carpets, wall hangings, etc, etc.

Houseplant death ray. I just brought home an adorable polka dot plant which, according to everything I read, loves the sun. Hah! After a few hours on my windowsill, that little beauty was gasping for some shade. If you don’t take action to filter the sunlight in your home, you’ll be stuck raising only tomatoes … or maybe cactus.

How to Tame Your Too-Sunny Room

Shade. The best way to subdue indoor sunlight is by shading the outside of your house. Planting a few trees (not too close to your foundation or you’ll have a whole new set of problems) is an ideal solution, albeit somewhat long-term. If you’re in a hurry – or you live in a condo and your board allows it – attach awnings to shield your windows and exterior walls.

Window Film. A sun-blocking film applied directly to your windows is a relatively easy retrofit. In the past, these films blocked more light than heat and also tended to obscure the view. However, modern versions are much more efficient and less noticeable.

Curtains. Window treatments especially geared toward subduing the sunshine are available. They range in strength from light filtering drapes, through room darkening hangings, all the way to blackout curtains.

Paint. Cool colors such as soft blues, greens, or grays will tone down the brightness. Hire a painter to coat your walls with matte or textured paint, rather than gloss. Use your favorite bold hues with restraint, for the trim or the interior of built-in bookshelves, for example. That way you’ll spice up the color scheme without going overboard.

Fans. It can be an expensive proposition to rely on the air conditioning system alone to cool an extremely sunny room. Augment your A/C and save money by installing a ceiling fan to blow the chilled air around.

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