Natural light can do wonders to a home’s interiors. In addition to cheerfully lighting up the indoor space without consuming any energy, natural light brings warmth and comfort to the room, even in the dead of winter. Natural light also helps refresh the air in a room and is the best remedy for a dark, musty-smelling indoor space.
Studies have found that improving the interior lighting of a home can help people recover from oversleeping, overeating and energy loss. Interior design and media personality Georgia Ezra says, “Without sunlight in our homes, we are exposing ourselves to the risk of depression, anxiety and a number of other negative symptoms. I think natural light is the best source in all circumstances within our offices, homes, and interior spaces. Our bodies respond to it in such a positive way, and we need natural daylight to function - just as we need darkness to go to sleep.”
It is, therefore, important that people, who are looking to improve their home spaces, should consider how they can get more natural light into the home as part of their renovation or new building design plans. There are many ways to work with the space in your home to let in and utilise as much natural light as possible, and thus improve both the aesthetics and liveability of the space.
Lighten the environment with lots of white light
Dark colours suppress the impact of natural light; this means one should ensure that their walls and ceiling feature a light colour such as white, or a soft pastel like yellow or beige. Georgia Ezra, who owns interior architecture firm GABBE, says that in order to brighten your space, “Style and accessorise with neutral and lighter colours, and paint your ceiling a shade lighter than the walls to make the ceiling height look taller.”
Furniture in darker colours works well in a room with lots of natural light; for instance, a black sofa becomes a standout object, drawing attention and giving the space a modern feel.
According to Georgia, “When introducing light and airy colours, you completely change the mood of the home to a clear, clean and uplifting space. However, in certain circumstances I like to utilise a more moody palette by painting the walls and ceiling a deeper colour, as well as using a dim pendant or lamp shade to light the room.”
Having both light and dark elements in a room adds interest and depth to any enclosed space.
Use natural colours that will enhance the impact of natural light
Colour looks best in natural light. To create a natural look in the home, use natural colours as much as possible; wooden floors and bookcases, tan-coloured sofas and marble tabletops or tiles are all good options. Just as in nature, the natural light of the sun will draw these colours out so that they look subtly wild and naturalistic, which in turn creates a comfortable and relaxed environment for people.
Make good use of reflective objects
An easy way to increase the impact of natural light in a room is to make good use of mirrors, or other highly reflective objects. These objects reflect light around the space, helping the whole environment look brighter, and the room more spacious. Georgia, who also owns exotic tile specialist Tiles of Ezra, recommends large mirrors that bounce the light around the room. A mirror placed on the wall at the end of a long room can help the room look longer. Or, mirrors that are placed opposite one another to create an endless series of reflections produce the perception of depth. Experiment with mirrors and see what positions catch the most light, and then reflect it.
One can also use highly reflective surfaces, such as polished wood, or polished metallic objects, such as door handles or other objects, to achieve a similar effect.
Skylights or Tubular Daylighting Devices (TDDs) are effective solutions for introducing natural light into the home. While a large skylight might let in a little too much sun for one’s comfort, TDDs are small, cylinder-shaped skylights that have diffused or glazed bottoms to prevent the full force of a sunbeam entering the room, helping create a natural glow, quite like having a conventional light on during the day.
Make spaces bigger
Natural light is hugely inhibited by small and narrow spaces. The more open a space is, the lighter it will feel when natural light is flowing in from all directions. Here’s how you can open a space up. Many older homes have single-sized doorways that break the home up into distinct rooms, creating a cramped feel. Widening the doorway (perhaps to a double door in size), or making it larger by increasing its height can effectively maximise the impact of natural light.
Tearing down walls is another technique to open up the space. For instance, you can remove the wall separating the kitchen and dining areas. A single, larger room will be far better lit through the windows, and the space will feel larger and airier as well.
The third option, which is very popular in Australia, is to create an indoor-outdoor living area by utilising screen doors effectively. By cleverly designing your screen doors to complement your home’s design, you can ensure the living areas feel bigger while still keeping the wildlife and pests outside.
Add windows wherever possible for light (and privacy)
Windows can be used to allow natural light into an interior space as well as ensure privacy. Windows in bathrooms and bedrooms can be placed high up to provide privacy without blocking the entry of natural light.
Use frosted windows
A frosted window is another effective technique to allow in plenty of light without worrying about the privacy aspect. Frosted windows bring in natural light in a diffused, comfortable way that also prevents glare from getting into the home. Being frosted, these windows make it impossible for anyone outside to see what’s going on inside. Maximise the use of frosted windows to make the most of natural light without impacting your privacy.
Maintain your windows and garden properly
Windows need continuous upkeep, and so do gardens. The glass on windows will have to be cleaned regularly to avoid build-up of dust and dirt that can impact the quality of light entering the inner space. Similarly, if you have plants blocking the window, they’re going to limit how much natural light the window lets into the room.
Be selective about the plants near your windows – ideally grow small potted plants or bushes under the window and taller trees on either side.
Celebrate your well-lit home with houseplants
Having copious amounts of natural light indoors will help support plant growth. You can grow small pot plants or herbs to emphasise the ambience and make the room feel open, bright, natural, and relaxing.
Having a sun room in the home, with a nice view of the garden or wilderness, light streaming in from all angles, and plenty of plants lying around, will give you a room to escape to and relax in without actually having to leave the home.
Make good use of soft light as well
While natural light should be the focus, it’s important to use soft lighting to complement the natural light. Making good use of LED or fluorescent lighting (preferably with dimmers to control their brightness) can help enormously in brightening up rooms when used strategically. For example, there are likely to be areas in the room that natural light either can’t reach, or can only reach at certain points of the day. At night, there’s very little natural lighting available at all. Soft lighting can ‘fill’ the shadows and keep the room well-lit at night. It’s preferable to have a large number of small lights spaced strategically around the room instead of the traditional style of having a single, overbearing light in the centre of the room.
Using beautiful natural sunlight to brighten your home
Design or modify your interior space to maximise the entry of natural light. While this article might be a useful starting point for inspiration, use your imagination and creativity to adapt your home design accordingly. Natural light will not only deliver health and lifestyle benefits but will also help increase your home’s market value.
Take care, however, that your furnishings are not exposed to natural light for a prolonged period of time as the colours can fade.
For additional interior design inspiration, please refer to Georgia Ezra’s new ebook ‘A Healthy Home, A Healthy You’ and get some professional and creative insight into how having a well-designed home can benefit you both mentally and physically.
A great way to allow natural light into your home without letting in any pests is to have retractable and pleated insect screens for all doors and windows. Contact Artilux for a free onsite quote.