Let the sunshine in: Living with natural light

Alissa Ugolini—homify UK Alissa Ugolini—homify UK
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One of the key issues for construction and design of a house is: How much natural light can penetrate the space? It comes as no surprise that when we see advertisements for homes to rent or buy, the keywords and titles are always light-filled room or sunbathed space. It seems humans are always on the search for sunshine. While architecture in some parts of the world is designed to keep the sun out, here in the Northern Hemisphere, we need to retain as much as humanly possible—especially during the winter months. This is not to say we don't suffer from a hot summer; it is quite the contrary. Proper glazing in our homes means we can live comfortably during all four seasons.

Crucial to sunlight, is, of course, the orientation of the house and, in particular, the number and size of windows and glass doors. South-facing rooms during winter absorb the most sun. Conversely, in the summer months, the rooms on the western side gain the most light. Generally, spaces to the east are beaten with the morning sun, whereas the northern areas still remain quite dark. When building a house, you should check these factors with your architect and engineers, because, with a few minor tweaks, you will save on power bills in the long run. A win-win situation for both you and nature! 

Ceiling light

Bishops Park SW6: modern Kitchen by CATO creative
CATO creative

Bishops Park SW6

CATO creative

Roof or sky lights allow a huge amount of light into your homes. Of course, only positioned on the top floor, these pockets glass have the power to completely alter the ambience of a space. A roof window always provides a very open feeling, since it opens up the space to the sky. We can freely watch the clouds play, and during gloomy winter days, our home still receives a lot of natural light. Making cooking even more fun, the ceiling light pictured brings a little of the outdoors inside.

Choosing the right window

Large, floor to ceiling windows, as a given, bring the most light into our homes. Generally, the following rules apply when choosing: Place doors and entertaining areas on the south side for maximum solar penetration. However, in summer, external sun protection is recommended in order to avoid overheating. This can be in the form of shades or large outdoor blinds. Outboard because it is more efficient than internal shading systems. As a lot of heat is lost through glazing, too, it is inadvisable to place large amounts of glass on the north side. In addition, the components around the windows can be designed so that the sun rays are lured in further. Black frames are a great conductor of heat, alternatively, small windows sills or ledges to the top of the window, placed at the correct angle, will block solar access during those nasty hot days. 

Bathroom light

modern Bathroom by in_design architektur
in_design architektur

Introvertiertes Familienbad mit Oberlicht

in_design architektur

Especially in older homes and apartments, the bathroom is often the room without natural light and proper ventilation. This is mostly due to the architectural conditions, especially in terraced houses or flats in apartment blocks. And of course it is far more important to have a window in the bedroom, or in the kitchen. However, ensuites often lack in windows, causing a long dreaded problem: the steam after a long shower or a relaxing bath can not easily escape, if you only have access to an exhaust fan. Therefore, it is necessary to have a proper electric exhaust fan installed, to ensure excess steam and dew is removed from the space. 

The ideal solution for a bathroom, where a window in a wall cannot be installed, is a skylight. You can see the sky from above, which always feels relaxing, and, if you wish, you can implement a skylight that can be electronically opened for when those steamy showers take place. 

Conservatories

The luxury version of the light-filled space, is without a doubt a Winter Garden, or Conservatory.  Fully glazed, the sun can radiate throughout the entire room. In addition, of course, glass walls offer a wonderful 360 ° view of the landscape. In the cold winter months, using a winter garden can be perilously cold. In this case, to use it according to its name, you need to equip it with a powerful heater or a fireplace. And then, just like an ever-changing canvas, you can enjoy fields of snow and bare trees. 

Where do you turn to gain your natural light from? Let us know your experiences below.
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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