Optimizing Natural Light In Your Home

When I got asked if I would enjoy a guest blog post on the subject of Natural Light I immediately said YES!  I am a firm believer in the power of light and how it impacts how a room looks and feels, and often say to my clients that we need to leverage natural lighting in our design work together.  Of course living and working in perpetually sunny Arizona brings great options to work with natural light.  So assess your home and see where you can install a Solar Tube or get rid of heavy window coverings and let in some of nature’s bounty—LIGHT.

Guest post below:

The effects of natural lighting on a room can be very subtle, but that doesn’t detract from its importance. Ideally whenever you design a room you need to consider what light it will get from the outside and how best to utilize it. There is a large number of factors you will need to think about when planning the lighting for a room, too many for this article to cover. But hopefully it will give you an overview of how to make the most of natural lighting for your home.

The first and most important factor is the direction from which the light is coming from. Whilst I’m writing in the northern hemisphere, if you live in the southern hemisphere you can swap north and south around.

  • North: Because north facing rooms never receive direct sunlight the light often has a cold flattening quality. For this reason artists often prefer north facing studios as they allow you to see the true colour of your paints.
  • East: East facing rooms get direct light in the morning as the sun rises but far less light in the evening.
  • South: South facing rooms get the benefits of direct sunlight on them for most of the day making them warmer and better lit than others.
  • West: West facing rooms will be dark in the morning but brighten up as the sun moves to the west. They will often get the most heat as not only does the early afternoon sun tends to be the warmest but the setting sun will often shine directly into them.

Natural History Museum by Stephen Boisvert (used under CC licence)

This picture gives a nice illustration of how much stronger light from the southern window is. (South on the left)

You should take the factors above into consideration when considering the purpose of a room. For example east and north facing rooms will tend to be colder and darker than south and west facing rooms. This means that you will need use artificial lighting not only to brighten the room and to counter the flat effect the reflected sunlight often gives. For south and west facing rooms then window treatments such as blinds or curtains will help you to control how much light gets in and reduce glare.

South Facing Bedroom by Tom Parnell (used under CC Licence)

Functional rooms like kitchens and studies will benefit from large windows so as to let in as much light as possible. Often you can increase the drop of a window without affecting the structural integrity of a wall. Though if you want to replace the wall with say French doors then you will need to get a builder in. In rooms where you want to relax small and medium sized windows tend to give you a more relaxing atmosphere and privacy.

Natural light can have surprising effects on the colours that you paint your walls. For example you might well find that bright colours used in a south facing room are overwhelming, while pastels in a north facing room can appear washed out. In general though you can use paints to either counter or enhance the effects of the natural light. For example if your north facing room is too cold and dark then bright colours will help to liven it up.

East and west facing rooms need the most thought as the amount of light in these rooms will change dramatically through the day. In general you will to design east facing rooms for morning use and west facing for the afternoon. Therefore I prefer bright colours in eastern rooms to help you wake up and warm or darker colours in the west to help you relax.

Author Bio: Daniel is a UK blogger and copywriter with an interest in interior design. He is writing on behalf of Wooden Blinds Direct a specialist online supplier of wooden venetian blinds.


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