Using Natural Light in Your Design

One of the greatest gifts a designer can leverage is natural light sources.  Understanding the natural light opportunities in a room can guide material selections and what types of artificial lighting is added.  Here in Arizona, S Interior Design likes to incorporate SolaTubes and strategically placed clerestory windows in homes and offices so our clients can enjoy the abundant natural sun shine without loosing heat and privacy controls.    Below is  a guest post about windows, natural light and window covering options to consider.

Using your window space to the best effect


While the structural architecture and design of a room can have an effect on its atmosphere and mood, it is the lighting that truly brings it to life, enhancing the room’s design and décor, as well as creating the mood. Lighting patterns, colors and targeted illumination can create a variety of moods, from cool, restful and relaxing, to warm, active and cheerful. Both artificial and natural lighting can be used creatively to bring out the best features of a room and distract attention away from more negative areas.


Artificial lighting is an part of interior design, but natural lighting, courtesy of windows, is often overlooked or seen as something to work around. Natural lighting, however, is not only better for the eyes; it is also the best light to see accurately, see colors and tones and is a natural mood-enhancer. Choosing the right window coverings and treatments to allow natural light in to the best effect is an important step in truly finishing a room.

Window decorating and natural lighting


There are a variety of different types of window coverings and treatments to choose from. Selecting exactly which to use depends on the room that the windows are in and the lighting effect required.


Window treatments in the bedroom need to be functional in some way, whether it is blinds that can be adjusted or shades that can be easily raised or lowered. Drapes and curtains are also frequently used in bedrooms; many being made from the same fabrics and trims as the bed linens. Room darkening and heat and sound insulating, these types of window coverings have the added benefit of creating a romantic and relaxing mood, particularly when made from luxurious fabrics and materials, such as sheers, brocades or velvet.


In the main living areas of the home, letting in natural light while maintaining a measure of privacy is the key. Covering only a portion of the window is an ideal way of admitting natural sunlight while maintaining privacy. Plantation shutters, along with other styles of window shutter, are a great way to accomplish this lighting effect. Covering only the lower pane or portion of the window, plantation shutters may be opened as desired to let in even more light. Even when closed they allow plenty to come through while keeping the room’s occupants screened from the outside world. Shutters fit in with almost any interior design, in particular country styles and Victorian design, as well as modern and eclectic looks.

Kitchens frequently do not have large windows or have windows with unusual shapes, so finding suitable coverings and treatments that are stylish, yet functional, may prove difficult. In addition to shutters, which also work well here, café curtains are a very popular window covering. Functioning in a similar way to the shutters, café curtains leave the upper part of the window nearly bare, allowing plenty of natural light to come through, while also ensuring a degree of privacy. Café curtains are available in a variety of styles and fabrics.


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.