If you've ever shopped for a home or an apartment, you've probably seen a few places that are much different than the standard. Older houses divided into smaller rental units, for example, have some pretty creative ways of establishing bedroom and living room spaces inside them. Repurposed commercial and industrial structures also have units within them that have clearly taken a lot of imagination and ingenuity to make them livable and comfortable. But what if the unit you're considering has a living room space without any windows; is this acceptable? We researched numerous municipal building codes so that you'll be armed with as much information as possible, should this ever arise.
A room does not need to have a window to be considered a living room. You can consider a space to be a living room, so long as the space:
- is a minimum of 70 square feet,
- has a standard doorway leading into it, and
- has a ceiling that is at least 7-feet high in all parts of the room.
You might also be wondering what constitutes a living room according to real estate standards. Can you use a living room as a bedroom? What's the best way to decorate a room that has no windows? How do you brighten up a room? For the answers to these questions and more, read ahead in this post.
How Windows Affect Your Living Space
Windows allow natural light to enter your space, but they aren't just installed in homes for aesthetic purposes. Windows provide the occupants with an additional means of egress. Should there ever be a fire or another emergency, it's good to know that you and your family have additional options to exit your home. For these windows to be considered egress, they have to provide five and a half square feet of clearance and be at least 24 inches wide. Windows must also be able to open all the way.
Airflow is also another important service that windows provide. If you've ever noticed how large the windows are in older homes, it's because most were built before air conditioning was widely available. Larger windows, when opened, allow a current of air to constantly circulate inside the building, cooling it down during the warmer months.
Of course, windows aren't without a drawback or two. If they are older windows, more heat will escape your home in colder months. Having heavier draperies will help this issue, but it doesn't solve the problem completely. They're also a lot more fragile than the walls of your home, as parents of children with baseballs might understand.
If your designated living room doesn't have windows, there are ways to brighten your room and make it aesthetically appealing. We'll dig into this later in this post. Overall, the pros of having windows in almost any room will far outweigh the cons. For most homeowners, windows' aesthetics and safety features are more than enough to justify having them.
What constitutes a room in real estate?
According to real estate standards, what determines a room or not are mostly size factors. Square footage and ceiling heights are the most important here, and room dimensions will determine what kind of space you are limited to.
Kitchens, bathrooms, and utility rooms aside, a legal room must contain at least 70 square feet. So, if the space is less than that, it wouldn't qualify as a living room or bedroom.
Additionally, the space must have a minimum ceiling height of seven feet (eight in some states) for a living room; at least half of the room must have seven-foot ceilings to be considered a bedroom. The latter makes it possible for a loft space to be legally considered a bedroom, so long as it meets minimum square footage and egress requirements.
Can a living room be used as a bedroom?
Legally speaking, any room can be used as a bedroom, so long as certain requirements are met:
- The room needs two means of egress. So, if you have one door leading out and one window, then this would qualify. And in most states, a skylight would also count.
- The room must also be at least 70 square feet. As the smallest living rooms are this size, you wouldn't need to worry here.
Contrary to popular belief, a room doesn't need to have a closet to qualify as a bedroom. But if the room you want to use as a bedroom is without a closet, you'll need to come up with some way to store your clothing. We found this wardrobe, which is as spacious as most standard bedroom closets.
How do you decorate a living room with no windows?
Creating the illusion of a window in the room might be your best option. Select a large mirror or two, and place them where you would ordinarily see a window. This will create more light while giving the feeling that the room is larger than it really is. If you have the right kind of mirror, you can also consider window treatments for it. Hanging curtains around it will further add to the illusion that this room isn't without a window.
Unless you want this windowless room to be dark, you'll want to be very mindful of your chosen colors. For the walls and ceiling, whites, creams, and tans will brighten the room. Having higher watt bulbs will also help. Avoid fluorescent lights, as they tend to cast a bluish tinge.
The furnishings in a windowless living room should be lighter in color as well. You'll want to avoid sofas and chairs that are black or deep browns and reds. But if you've got furniture with these colors and cannot replace them, you're not out of luck. Brightly colored throws, pillows, and area rugs will help tremendously. This large area rug would be perfect atop a dark hardwood floor. Even if your furniture is dark, the color of this rug will brighten up your room.
How can you brighten up a living room?
If your room has windows, consider keeping the blinds up and curtains open during daylight hours. Avoid planting trees and shrubbery that might interfere with the sun's rays. Choose draperies or window treatments that are lighter in color. Keeping interior furniture and accessories away from the window will also open the room up and let more light in.
The colors you choose will also determine just how bright your living room is. Neutral wall and ceiling colors will go a long way, especially if you have darker flooring. If you have dark hardwood floors, consider laying out an area rug that will compliment your walls' color. Avoiding furniture that are deep shades of red or brown will also help the room seem brighter.
Also, use greenery to brighten up any room. Strategically placed potted or hanging plants will make the room seem more alive and improve the air quality. Be sure to place these plants where they will get the required amount of sunlight, but without blocking most of the sunlight that enters the room.
If the room you want to use as a living room is windowless, it can still be considered a living room. Unlike bedrooms, living rooms only need one method of egress. While decorating a windowless living room can be a challenge, there are many actions you can take to make this room seem larger and brighter with mirrors and lighter colors.
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