Architects and interior designers agree that making the most of natural light is important. Just as it’s lovely to cheer up the exterior of your home, especially once the better weather arrives, so it’s very satisfying to do the same inside. That doesn’t necessarily mean decorating every single room, but rather taking a fresh look around and focusing on any dark, forgotten corners. Here are some examples of changes you can make.
In countries where summers become very warm, such as France, Greece or Spain, you may have noticed that apartments and houses tend to be painted in pastel colours or in white, and that window openings are relatively small. The pale colours reflect the heat and the windows tend to be smaller so that the interior doesn’t become overheated. In more temperate climates most people love to make the most of sunlight, so homes are designed to maximise natural light, which is one reason why conservatories have become so popular.
To replace every window in your home with a bigger one is not a feasible solution and most properties would look very odd indeed if you made such a drastic change. Where you already have decent sized windows, therefore, the important thing is to consider the window treatments you are using, to see if they are helping your rooms to benefit from natural daylight, without turning each space into a hothouse. Popular options for extra windows to let in more daylight include those that can be fitted in line with your roof, whether this is flat or sloping.
Blinds and curtains are pretty standard fittings for home windows, however, you may not realise that even when your curtains are opened, they restrict some of the external light at the edges of the window frame, and also at the top if you have fitted a valance. A great solution is to replace blinds and curtains with affordable, stylish and elegant shutters that are made to fit your window openings exactly. These come in a range of styles and you can choose between solid panels or those with manoeuvrable slats.
As shutters can be laid flat against the walls either side of your windows they won’t screen out any light and even when you close them you can choose to adjust the slats, so you control the level of daylight in each individual room. That is very convenient – when the sun changes position around your home you can alter the level of daylight in each room accordingly.
If some rooms in your home are particularly dark and dreary, you may want to consider installing roof lights or clerestory windows. That can be a great way to brighten up a small shower room, for example, or any room in your property that happens to be overlooked. In the correct position, you will benefit from extra daylight while retaining your privacy. In living and dining rooms clerestory windows naturally draw the eye upwards, which enhances your décor, while the light from above brightens any gloomy corners.
If you have good natural daylight in some rooms but not in others there are alternative ways to redress the balance that don’t involve adding windows. One of these is to consider how you can brighten north-facing rooms by using light from south-facing ones. Effective methods include replacing some walls with those made from glass bricks, where this is structurally feasible; adding glazed interior doors between rooms instead of solid ones; and, converting to an open staircase, so that light can travel between different floor levels.
Mirrors and other shiny surfaces reflect light and if you position these strategically in your home you can increase the effect of natural light entering through windows and doors. While this can be very helpful in some rooms, unfortunately the best place for a mirror to act as a reflector is not always convenient in terms of how you use the rooms. Trial and error is perhaps the only way to work this out, and with children about you should always take extra care with glass, especially freestanding mirrors or those that are large and heavy. An LED back lit mirror would also make a fabulous edition.
Finally, safe exposure to sunlight is a great way to boost your levels of vitamin D, and even though this isn’t possible behind glass, you can always open your windows and use your shutters to let in as much fresh air and npossible behind glass, you can always open your windows and use your shutters to let in as much fresh air and natural light as you want.