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  • LeahMouse

Let There Be LIGHT!

Our 1080-square foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in sunny Florida is the most dismal place I have ever lived. It's always dark in our apartment, even in the middle of the day with every built-in ceiling light on AND with the addition of several floor lamps.

When my boyfriend is thoughtful and brings me flowers, they sadly wither and die within days from lack of sunlight, despite keeping them watered and using that packet of flower-keeping powder stuff. When I'm trying to draw, read, cross-stitch, or otherwise engage in something that requires my ability to see what the heck I'm doing, I always end up straining my eyes and getting a headache - despite surrounding myself with all available floor lamps and turning on every light in the house (not good for the environment!). Whenever I try to film a YouTube video, it's always really dark or I have to turn on EVERY available light and bring in three lamps to physically point directly at my face to make it look like I don't live in a cave.

I have included some video screenshot examples of this:

This is a YouTube video I made at night in the room with one of the only windows (the other window is in the kitchen), and the light source was the built-in ceiling light. I could have done more in the way of setting up better lighting, I suppose, but it was a casual video so it wasn't critical. But still...look how DARK it is!

This one is even more ridiculous. This screenshot is from my most recent vlog. This is in the middle of the day and there are living room lights on, if you can believe it. Watch the video if you don't believe me! It's unreal how our apartment is the place where light goes to die.

This screenshot is an example of when I actually make an effort to light my videos well. See the window behind me? That's a window to the outside world where it is, in fact, daytime. The additional lighting in the room is the built-in ceiling light, as well as a floor lamp with two sources of light - the top that points upward to illuminate the room (which is on, of course), and a bendy part to aim wherever you please. The bendy part is lit and aimed directly at my face. And to be honest, it's still a pretty dark video - especially compared to most YouTube videos I see.

How is this possible? We live in a pretty decent-sized space in the "Sunshine State", for crying out loud!

Well, considering the fact that the brilliant folks who designed this apartment complex decided to give the most expensive floor plan (that's us) only TWO windows might be a start. That one small window you can see above is in the second bedroom (which we don't use because it's too small - it's basically storage space/the video room), and the second window is in the kitchen above the sink.

This is where it gets really annoying though - on the opposite side of the apartment, it's ALL DOOR. The master bedroom and living room have no "windows" to speak of - just a massive floor-to-ceiling sliding door that takes up the entire wall. So while technically that would be a source of natural light, there are two problems with that:

1. That side of the apartment faces inside the complex, directly in view of the pool and dozens of other apartments with their own glass walls and outside porches/patios.

2. That side of the apartment gets no sun - and even if it did, it would be blocked by our own massive porch/patio combo, which is basically just a big screened-in outside room.

That might sound kind of cool to some people - I even thought it was cool when I first visited and eventually moved here.

Nope.

Spend five minutes out on the porch room, or in the living room with the blinds open, day or night, and you'll find yourself staring at at least twenty other neighbors also hanging out on their patios, or totally visible in their own living rooms. And don't discredit the inevitable huge group of people at the pool (it's Florida so...that's kinda always the case), lounging, screaming, yelling, and splashing - also totally within eye-shot of everyone's living quarters.

And if you look out the patio window/door/whatever from inside the apartment, you can clearly see into everyone else's apartments because they have their blinds open. My boyfriend and I even watched a couple cutely dance together while they were making dinner one time.

If you've ever seen "Rear Window", it's like that...but on steroids.

I don't know about everyone else, but I don't enjoy the idea of a bunch of strangers potentially seeing every move of my private life. Since it's an entire floor-to-ceiling wall of glass, there is NO hiding. No quickly running from the shower to grab a shirt - no spontaneous hanky panky on the living room floor - no scratching an inappropriate itch while lounging on the couch.

Not unless you want everyone else to see it, anyway.

So it goes without saying that we keep the massive window wall covered at all times with the closed blinds, thus plunging the entire apartment into a level of darkness that brown recluse spiders would envy.

My actual point in all of this ranting is that I've been searching online for tips and ideas on how to light up a living space that has little to no natural light. I found some compellingly titled articles and pages, but found myself let down, as usual, by the feebleness and lack of functionality of these "Genius DIY Hacks!".

Most of the time when I search for help in the vast universe of knowledge that is the world wide web, my expectations apparently far outweigh the actual results - and this time is no different. I keep seeing what I refer to as "Bored Rich Wife" suggestions that are purely ornamental rather than practical.

And it's not that I'm just looking for the wrong things, either. This is directly from a blog post I found entitled "Let There Be Light!: Tricks to Add Sunshine to a Windowless Room". Sounds like exactly what I need, right? Well, let's examine the "tricks" listed in the blog...

- Add a framed large-scale picture of an exterior scene to the wall to make it look like there's a "window" to the outdoors

- Decorate the room with bold colors and patterns to make up for the lack of light

- Add fake plants

- Drape a patterned tapestry behind furniture to give a dramatic focal point

{And this last one honestly just pisses me off, simply because of the example photo they attached to it.}

- Use window panes filled with mirrors and frame them with curtains to mimic windows

{this is the example photo to illustrate this "hack"}

Okay - how many studio lights did they have to drag into that room to illuminate it like that? Seriously - I'm expected to believe that tiny-ass little mirror mock window thing over in that corner lit this "dark and drab basement room" up THAT much?

Um, misleading title, much? Thanks for nothing.

I'm also on the hunt for shelving ideas because between my boyfriend, me, and three cats - we need MUCH more space. Before we got together, my boyfriend and I lived as single people each in two-story three-bedroom houses. His was 1800 square feet and mine was 1450 square feet. That's a lot of space - and we filled it.

Then when we came together, we had to condense our collective living quarters down to 1080 square feet - and attempt to combine all of our stuff (including our cats). Sufficed to say, we have a LOT of clutter because there simply isn't enough room for everything (or everyone!).

So I'm looking online to help with DIY shelving options to better improve the clutter situation, right? But, in the same vein as the "add light" click-bait crap, I keep seeing page after page of this "Better Homes and Gardens" nonsense that might as well read: "Want to move out of your home and turn it into a museum? Do this stuff!"

Yeah, I need to know how to make cool mounted wall shelves that will hold all 473 of our books... and these articles are giving me crap like: "Mount an old dresser drawer vertically on the wall and stick a miniature cactus and a tea cup in it."

I always see these "Crafty DIY Space-saving Hacks", and think - Wow...do these people NOT have STUFF??!! Like yeah - of course you people can make Pinterest posts about saving space - you have nothing to begin with! If I had the space in the first place, I'm sure a rustic shipping pallet displaying two empty wine bottles and a seashell would look amazing where my over-cluttered DVD shelf currently is.

They should just title these things "How to throw away everything functional and live in Magazine World."

Like this... do people really live like this?

You spent $16 to display a pair of sunglasses, six CDs, and a fake apple?

Okay.

Why is it so hard to find something practical and functional, rather than cosmetic and cute in the DIY section of the internet? I'm asking for Bob Vila and they're giving me Bob Ross. (Nothing against Bob Ross, of course - but it's the difference between needing to paint a birdhouse and needing to BUILD a birdhouse).

I would think that people would want to actually live in and use their homes, rather than have them on display. Maybe one day people will revert back to using space as a necessity rather than a luxury. Maybe lighting a room will be used to help humans see what they're doing rather than as mere ambience.

Maybe.

Or maybe I'm just living in the dark.

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