Friday, August 08, 2014

Want to Maximize the Natural Lighting in Your Home? Here's How

People joke about man-caves, but it’s no joke when you can’t see them. Older homes tend to have too few windows, dark corners and narrow hallways that could lighten up. Newer homes have more windows, but usually not in the places they’re needed, like dark hallways and corners. Natural light has so many benefits to our emotional and physical health, that it’s a disservice to live in dark caves. Natural light gives us better concentration, a peppier step and Vitamin D. So, let’s get those dark shadows outta there and maximize your natural light.

Add Windows

There are walls in every house without windows. Adding casement windows beside double-hung windows gives a room more light as well as adding fixed or transom windows above the double-hung windows. Floor to ceiling windows add natural light as well. Many homes have bay windows only in the formal living room or formal dining room. However, when they are extended to the story above, they are called oriels. This brings grace as well as plenty of natural light to rooms.

Odd shaped windows like ovals, diamonds and ship’s port windows are sometimes placed in hallways and at dark corners of a house to shed some light on the subject. Homeowners might consider placing these odd shaped windows in a pattern such as port-diamond-port or oval-square-oval. Perhaps smaller custom round windows, shaped like bubbles, could be installed around port or oval windows to make a pattern of light in the space. It would certainly be a focal point in the space or room.

Add Skylights

Older houses often have no windows at all in certain rooms. If this is the case, install a skylight. They can be cut to any length the homeowner needs. For example, if the kitchen has no windows at all, cut the skylight three-quarters of the length of the room, placed in the center of the ceiling. Of course, the heat coming in the skylight needs to be considered. When the room is not in use or homeowners want to control the heat coming in but not the light, blinds may be installed. The slats can be adjusted to reflect heat back outside, but allow natural light to come in.

Another idea would be to install tubular daylighting devices. These are small tubes cut from the roof like a skylight. The light is carried along a coated metal surface until it reaches a diffuser lens in the ceiling. One tube can illuminate a 100 to 600 foot space. The great thing about TDDs is that they create no dark shadowy spaces, making them good for hallways and dark corners as well as whole rooms.

Window Treatments

The budget can’t always handle knocking out walls and adding banks of windows. In that case, let’s maximize what is available. Rip out those dark curtains and hang filmy or lacy sheers. That keeps a little of the heat out, but allows for natural light. Shades and blinds do the same job, some of which can be enhanced by using sliding barn door hardware, if a bank of windows or floor to ceiling windows is involved. If the house is located in such a way as to have no one peering inside, the windows could always go uncovered. The weather would dictate when to hang window treatments, of course, but the rooms would have lots of natural light.

Other Methods

A coat of a light eggshell or shiny paint would help rooms lighten up. Homeowners would want warmer colors, however, in northern and eastern rooms, because they tend to be the chilliest. Hanging mirrors in strategic spots helps spread the light around and destroy any dark corners or spaces in rooms and hallways. Removing solid inner doors and replacing them with glass doors would help spread the light around, too.

Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health, wellness and interior design. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.

UPDATE: Since the publication of this article by Paisley Hansen, we invite you to read the following article from 

The Comfy Home Corner on 17 Interior Lighting Ideas That will Give A Modern Look to your House Within 45 Days.

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