We let natural light in our homes to reduce energy consumption and to ensure the health and comfort of the homeowners. We do it through placing windows and other openings on our exterior walls. But, it doesn’t end there. In most cases, there are inner rooms that have no access to adequate sunlight. An exceptional day-lighting strategy involves borrowing light for spaces where it’s needed.
Need a way to harness the sunlight that shines in your home? Here are some solutions:
Replace solid walls with glass
Opaque walls restrict light from passing through to the next room. Consider interior walls made of transparent and translucent materials. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, but both are great for brightening rooms. Clear glass can disperse a great amount of light into the adjacent space. Unfortunately, your space becomes less private. On the contrary, frosted glass or any translucent material can reflect, absorb, and diffuse light. It obscures the view but brightens the room naturally.
Designer’s special note: There are numerous translucent materials that you can use as walls and dividers. You can have glass sandblasted, acid-etched, textured, or laminated. If a glass wall or divider is too expensive, consider pellucid films like the Japanese shoji screens.
Then, use white or any light coloured paint on the walls of the rooms that lack access to sunlight. White walls reflect sunlight and make the room feel brighter.
Install interior windows
Interior windows borrow light similar to transparent and translucent dividers we discussed earlier, but there are other perks of having them at home. Homeowners should consider internal windows to bring in light from the adjacent room and to link complementary spaces.
Designer’s special note: Interior windows are cost-efficient because they aren’t subjected to the weathering and insulation restrictions applied to exterior windows. Make yours operable to allow cross-ventilation.
Be smart about your stair design
Another way to borrow light from one area is through your stairway. You can customise your stairs to allow sunlight from the upper level to shine on the floor underneath. Consider this when the lower level is darkened and has no direct access to sunlight. You can also brighten up both upper and lower levels at night with one fixture.
Skylights are great when:
- You have windowless rooms.
- You are restricted by the size of windows that you can use.
- You need to address privacy issues.
- You want an interesting architectural feature.
Also, this type of window admits light that’s more than three times a normal window of the same size can provide. It also distributes the light more evenly. The right size will ensure brighter and more functional inner rooms without excessive artificial lighting.
Use transom windows
These windows are found directly above the door or another window. Transom windows are usually small, but it can do a lot of things. It can add style, bring more natural brightness, and enhance ventilation. Consider this design when you have arc doorways at home. Also, if you want to light to enter the room without compromising the homeowner’s privacy.
Consider solar tubes
Similar to skylights, solar tubes channel light from the roof using highly-reflective flexible tubes. These are commonly used to illuminate private spaces where you don’t want large windows. You can use solar tubes to brighten the basement rooms and turn it into a functional space (e.g. lounge area, man cave, entertainment room, wine cellar, home theatre etc.)
Designer’s special note: While a single solar tube can dramatically brighten space, it’s nice if you use multiple solar tubes above a large workspace (e.g. bathroom counters).
The smart use of natural light is a necessity
Access to daylight is an important element of sensible and sustainable building design. Apart from decreasing electrical consumption and making the space visually comfortable, borrowing light also makes the room feel larger. It will help you dodge any floor-area constraints.
I hope you find the techniques discussed above useful. They’re applicable to both existing and new homes.
A design writer for almost two years, Charlene Ara works with the talented and skilled architects and building designers from Superdraft Austalia. They complete thousands of residential and commercial projects across the country annually. They’re also recognised by prominent institutions such as the AU Financial Review, Smart Company, Business News Australia, Westpac Bank, and more. Recently, their team branched out to New Zealand in order to bring quality and affordable design services to our kiwi neighbours.