What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking of your dream home? Perhaps it’s the sleek, elegant design, a soaring atrium, or daylight flooding in from a vast expanse of glass.
There’s nothing like waking up to sunlight streaming through the window, or lazing in the soft rays of the evening sun. Natural light makes us feel good. Research shows that exposure to natural light improves productivity, keeps us healthy and can even combat depression. Artificial lighting just can’t compete.
Sadly, not all homes are created equal when it comes to natural light. Even if you’re able to design and build your own home, you may be constrained by your lot and the surrounding landscape.
But there are always ways to exploit daylight in your home whatever its size, aspect or setting. So whether you’re just starting the design process for your new home, or despairing about the lighting in your poky, city-center apartment, read on for our tips for bringing daylight into your home.
1. Design your home with daylight in mind
If you’re lucky enough to be able to design your house from scratch, then consider which direction(s) you’ll get the most sunlight from. Orientate your home to take advantage of this and include larger areas of glazing on aspects where you want to draw light into your home.
If you have space on your lot, design your home on a rectangular, narrow plan. This helps avoid the need for interior rooms that have little or no opportunity for natural light. Consider where best to place rooms to follow the track of the sun throughout the day. For example, if you want to wake up to sun, make sure your bedroom faces east.
2. Install solar tubes to bring natural light to interior spaces
A solar tube gathers daylight in a small rooftop dome and reflects it down a metal tube. At the other end of the tube is a ceiling fixture that diffuses the light to create a soft, natural glow. On a bright day, one solar tube can provide as much light as three bright LEDs – easily enough to light a small interior space such as a stairwell, closet or bathroom.
3. Create a window wall
A wall of glass adds an instant ‘wow’ factor to any room and is an easy way to flood your home with natural light. Extend your living space into the garden with full-length folding glass doors. Or, if your house has a great aspect, why not have floor-to-ceiling windows in your master bedroom, so you can enjoy the views from your bed. Check out this gallery for more inspirational window ideas.
4. Use skylights to balance light in open living spaces
Often in an open plan living area, you may have windows predominantly on one wall. As a result, the back of the room may be cast into shadow. Skylights can be a useful solution to bring natural light to these areas and balance the level of daylight in the room. They can be easily installed in flat or pitched roofs and allow far more light in than traditional, vertical windows, so they’re handy for making the most of winter sunlight in northern latitudes.
5. Use mirrors to reflect light into dark spaces
Where you don’t have the flexibility to install new windows, skylights or solar tubes, a simple mirror can help bring light to the darkest parts of your home. Play around with the placement and size of mirrors on a sunny day to work out where to hang them to make the most of available daylight.
6. Use interior design to maximize light
We all known that lighter colors make rooms seem larger and brighter, but take a closer look at what’s under your feet. Whilst carpets absorb light, hard polished floors will reflect it around the room. If you have a dark corridor, use a glass door or mirror in combination with a polished floor surface to bounce daylight all the way down the hallway.
7. Position windows high up in rooms and hallways
If you’ve got limited wall space for windows, then consider where best to position them to maximize the amount and use of natural light. Placing windows higher up allows light to penetrate deeper into rooms and can be a good solution in rooms where privacy is important.
Clerestory windows (a band of windows along the top of a wall) are particularly useful to light long hallways and help balance daylight in rooms leading off a corridor.
8. Use glass doors or sections of walls to share light between rooms
North-facing rooms can be a challenge to brighten up because the light is cooler and harsher. You may be able to bring warmer light in from an adjoining room using glazed wall panels, glass doors or a glass block wall. If you want to create a quirky feature, look for alternatives to traditional glass blocks, such as these walls made from recycled bottles.
Balancing light with energy efficiency
Finally, whatever solutions you use to bring more light into your home, it’s important to also consider the heat gains (and losses) you get with increased glazed areas. You may need to build in shading techniques and energy-efficient glazing to balance daylight with energy performance.
At SEED Homes, we have years of experience in creating designs that maximize natural light while ensuring a comfortable, energy-efficient home. If you’re looking for ideas on how to make the most of natural light on your lot, get in touch with us today.