light-filled kitchen

The kitchen often gets more use than any other room of the home. It’s the place where people go to eat, cook, gather, study, work, and entertain. So, it makes sense to have a kitchen that is as well lit as possible. But artificial light can’t compete with natural light in terms of clarity or color — or cheerfulness, for that matter. And by maximizing the natural light within a space, you can also help reduce the amount of energy that you may use.

If your kitchen seems dark, and you’re looking for ways to brighten it that won’t drive up your energy usage, these kitchen updates can help.

Install a Glass Backsplash

Not all types of glass are the same and not all types are reflective. But there are several kinds of glass tile backsplashes that can help reflect and boost the natural light that’s already in your kitchen.

There are two kinds to look for:

  • Colored back glass tiles are completely clear but have a foil or color added to the back, so the color shines through the glass. These are usually the brightest in color, and they will do an excellent job of reflecting light. This type of tile has crisp, sharp edges for a clean, contemporary look.
  • Blown glass tiles have color all the way through, so they are more translucent, often with small air bubbles and soft variation of color through the glass. This type of tile is softer on the edges, usually slightly uneven in appearance.

Glass for a backsplash will cost between $20 to $30 a square foot, with most backsplashes requiring around 30 square feet for $1,200 to $1,500.

glass backsplash
Photo by Jon’Nathon Stebbe on Unsplash

Install a Mirror Backsplash

If you want something that will increase the amount of light in the kitchen and make it seem larger at the same time, consider a mirror backsplash. Mirrors are excellent at amplifying the amount of natural light in a space, so covering your backsplash with a mirror will definitely brighten things up.

Mirrored backsplashes can be one continuous mirror or they can be made up of mirrored tiles. Either will create a unique look for your kitchen while it helps make the room brighter. Although the mirror can make the room seem larger, it will also reflect the items on your countertops. So this option works best if you store small appliances and other items out of sight.

Mirrored backsplashes cost between $8 and $15 a square foot for a total of $240 to $450 for a 30 square-foot area.

Swap the Panels in Your Cabinets for Glass

Glass is a very reflective material, so installing as much of it as possible in your kitchen can help you boost the amount of natural light. If you have paneled cabinet doors, it’s fairly easy to replace the inner panel with glass. It’s also possible to replace the entire cabinet door with a glass front.

If you don’t want what’s inside your cabinets to be on display, you can opt for wavy or obscured glass instead of clear. The idea is to use a reflective material, though, so the result won’t be as brightening with matte or frosted glass.

A replacement cabinet door with glass inserts costs between $20 and $50 on average, depending on wood type and style.

bright, modern kitchen
Photo by House Method on Unsplash

Gloss Up Your Paint

When you’re looking for ways to reflect and boost natural light, don’t overlook the power of paint. Using a satin gloss paint on your walls and a high gloss paint on trim and cabinets can go a long way toward brightening up the whole kitchen.

Make sure that you choose lighter colors for the best effect. And while high gloss and semi-gloss are more reflective, they tend to be a little overpowering if used everywhere, so stay with a satin finish on the walls and keep the higher reflection for woodwork.

Painting your kitchen has a cost of around $400 to $800; painters typically charge around $50 per hour.

bright kitchen
Photo by Fred Kleber on Unsplash

Install a Solar Tube

Adding windows in an existing home isn’t always a feasible option, especially if all you’re trying to do is boost your natural light and not completely transform your home’s exterior too. But installing a solar tube is a good alternative. This is a tube you run from your roof to your kitchen that will literally pull in the sunlight. It’s not going to give you a view to the outdoors, but it won’t change the appearance of your home and it won’t require you to cut into siding either.

Solar tubes cost around $500 to $1,000 depending on size and distance.

Brighten Your Kitchen

If your kitchen is too dark and you find yourself using artificial light during the day to make it usable, consider investing in any of these ideas to help maximize your natural light. Any single one can help make a difference on its own, or you can layer them for greater effect. Boost your natural light and start reducing your energy consumption today.

About the Author

Cristina Miguelez is a remodeling specialist at, a website that connects consumers with service professionals in their area and estimates the cost for remodeling projects. She writes about home improvement tips and tricks to help homeowners make better home remodeling decisions.

Feature image by André François McKenzie on Unsplash

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