Natural light is fundamental to our wellbeing, but so often our homes severely lacking in it, creating dark gloomy spaces that do nothing for our state of mind. However, when you come to remodel or redesign your home, you are given the perfect opportunity to look at ways to bring more light in. Here we run through some of the obvious, and less obvious ways to create a light-filled home, and tell you how to do it.
The use of textured, patterned and decorative glass seems to be having a revival; it allows scattered light to come in while distorting the view from both sides.
Typically found in bathrooms and kitchens, it can also be used creatively to divide rooms and create impact – as in the open-plan living room/diner shown right. Traditional leaf and floral designs are available, but simpler and more contemporary options keep up with the latest interiors trends.
Another option is white diffusing glass, which comes in a number of forms – from an acid-etched or sandblasted finish to layered panes with a white translucent component. Laminated glass comprises a wide range of coloured inter-layers, including translucent white, and the glass surface is smooth rather than textured.
The challenge is finding the right glazing for where privacy is paramount but vision is still required. A combination of glass with either a reflective coating and/or a tint, will make it more difficult to see into a room from the outside. Many glazing solutions are permanent, as privacy characteristics are a feature of the glass and the amount of distortion varies with the pattern.
Making better use of existing natural light
- Mirrors are a great way of reflecting natural light. As well as using wall-mounted mirrors, which create a great focal point, also consider mirrored furniture.
- Use sheer, lightweight fabric for large windows, to allow the maximum amount of natural light to flow through your rooms while bringing warmth and texture to the space.
- Keep your colour palette light. White and pale colours will reflect the light, while warm colours will absorb it. Use fabric with metallic accents, such as linens with silver weaves, to create highlights within the space.
- If you choose shutters, a wide-slat design will allow the most natural light to stream in, while also offering privacy as required.
- Choose a hard floor with a polished finish, whether this is wood or stone, as this will bounce light around the room. Carpet isn’t reflective, so if it is a must for comfort, try inlaying it into a wooden floor or add a wooden runner, to give the light somewhere to reflect off.’
Redesigning your layout to make use of natural light
- TRACK THE SUN: Understanding how the sun moves round your home will allow you to plan your layout to follow it throughout the day. For example, try eating breakfast in an east facing room and spend evenings in a west-facing space, to capture the sunset.
- SOUTH-FACING ROOMS: Typically, people associate south-facing windows with enjoying the best natural (warm-toned) light. In response, many house builders locate their main living rooms to the south, specifying larger windows to increase the sun’s rays.
- GLAZED ROOMS: Avoid building conservatories and sunrooms with glass roofs facing due south, as these will overheat and are better located to the east or west.
- NORTH-FACING ROOMS: Northern light is a pure, blue-toned light that can make a room appear cold. Service spaces, such as utilities and bathrooms, are frequently positioned to the north with smaller windows, to prevent the areas from becoming cold due to heat loss.
- DOUBLE-FACING ROOMS: Introducing windows on two sides of a room will not only create a double aspect, but will also ensure that the space is well lit throughout the day.
- FRAMES: Slim window frames allow in the maximum daylight without unduly obstructing the view. Alternatively, frameless glazing does away with any kind of supporting framework, by attaching glass to glass directly with silicone – the perfect solution for corner windows.
- ROOFLIGHTS OR VELUX WINDOWS: Skylights can easily and quickly be installed in both flat and pitched roofs, and this does not usually require planning permission. They can allow far more light to flood into the room, all through the day, than you get with regular, vertical windows.’