Making the most of daylight can improve the environment in your home and reduce your utility bill. The more natural light you let into your home, the less artificial lights you need to turn on. There are many other benefits of designing your home for optimal daylighting, including heating the indoors, killing bacteria that thrive in dark and wet spaces and improving your mood, general health and well-being.
If you want to enjoy these benefits and are in the process of designing your home or are willing to make some adjustments to your rooms, these ideas will help you bring more natural light into your home:
- OrientationWhen designing or renovating your home, one of the most of important factors to consider in maximising natural light is the sun’s position in relation to your house. In the northern hemisphere, the sun stays to the south. This implies that the walls that will be facing south will receive the most sunlight.
To take full advantage of the sunlight, you should design your home such that the longest side faces south. South facing walls should also have little to no offsets and jogs, which increase shade, reducing the amount of natural light.
The two rooms that could benefit the most from full sunlight are the kitchen and laundry room, since they have the most daytime activity, plus the tasks performed there need the most light. The entertainment room, on the other hand, should have the least amount of natural light to avoid glares.
With regard to the orientation of your bedroom, it largely depends on your personal preference. If you enjoy waking up to the sun, you may consider partially placing the master bedroom along the south wall to enjoy some morning sun.
- Add windowsWindows let in plenty of natural light. But to reduce the amount of natural heat penetrating through the windows during the hot summer months and keep the cold weather out during the winter months, you should consider getting energy efficient windows and glass for the doors.
You can add windows to any room to increase the amount of light depending on your needs, especially the living room and the kitchen. Also identify dark areas in your home that could benefit from daylighting, such as the stairwells and landings.
- Add glass doorsWhether you prefer hinged, french or sliding doors, fitting doors with glass will increase the amount of light getting into your house. You can do this for a kitchen door facing south or a dark entryway.
When combining multiple sources of daylight, such as windows and doors, it is important that you balance the lighting. Instead of getting the light from only one direction, consider having a glass door and some windows on one wall, and some other windows on another wall so light enters from more than one direction.
If you get all your light from one side, it will create glare and cast shadows in different spots, causing the back of the room to appear darker.
For privacy when using glass doors, consider using reeded or etched glass.
- Replace interior solid doors with french doorsWhile interior doors serve the important purpose of soundproofing, solid doors tend to shut off different sections of the house. Replacing these doors with glass or french doors will allow the natural light in some rooms to flow into other parts of the house.
- Widen doorwaysThis involves a rather major renovation project, as it requires you to take down some walls. You don’t necessarily have to demolish the exterior wall. For instance, to increase the amount of natural light in a kitchen that is adjacent to a dining room and living room with large windows, you just need to tear down the walls standing in between.
Alternatively, you may knock down a large hole and install a glass door to let in more light from the rest of the house.
- Hang a mirrorThe idea is to reflect light and the beautiful outdoor scenery. A well-placed mirror in a dark living room or dining room or stairway can dramatically change the lighting in your home. You can use one large mirror or multiple mirrors, preferably antique ones that also serve as wall decals, to reflect light from every possible source and make your rooms more comfortable and cozy.
- Use coloursUsing light colour paints in dark rooms allows your walls and ceiling to reflect any light available and brightens things up. Alternatively, you can embrace the shadows by tactfully painting deeper, moody colours to make an already dark room feel warm, rich and cozy. The dark colours can be applied to the walls, doors, handles and locks, ceiling, floors, and basically any other surface. But you may need to work with a colour consultant to get the best effect.
As long as you’re trying to make your rooms brighter with natural light, you may as well introduce some houseplants so that you have an excuse to open the window shades and windows to nourish your small plants with sunlight and fresh air.