How to Bring More Natural Light into your Home

Rooflights and Bifold doors work together to add light to this kitchen

During the Summer months our homes are flooded with natural light which is beneficial to not only our homes; but also has a positive effect on our overall health and well-being. However, come the winter months when it turns dark and dreary; unfortunately, our homes (and often our moods) can go the same way.  Here are some different options for increasing the natural light into your home.

Roof Lanterns
Roof lanterns not only fill a space with natural daylight, but also add a focal point and height to the interior of a room. They work particularly well in new kitchens, sun rooms and garden rooms. Building Tectonics were asked by a client to design a very airy space to connect their house with their garden and the end result was this stunning garden room. Although it has plenty of glass it still has the feel of a solid structure, unlike a conservatory.

Garden Room with Roof Lantern

Rooflights
A popular choice for loft conversions – rooflights (or skylights as they are also called) can make a significant difference to the overall light in your home. They can be placed above a staircase, in a bedroom or bathroom or in a living or dining space (maybe over a kitchen island). They will bring in twice the amount of light of the average window and are also perfect for rooms where side glazing is not possible or you want to maintain maximum wall space.  

Rooflights come in a wide choice of designs and sizes with the main manufacturer being ‘Velux’ and are angled towards the sky allowing considerable light into a room. They work well in open-plan kitchen/living areas as they let so much light in alongside French doors or bifold doors. Many ‘Velux’ windows now offer built-in blinds and remote-controlled opening and some even allow the glazing to slide right back for a real ‘open air’ feel.

If you’re undertaking a loft conversion and are putting an extra bedroom in the loft space, you may want to think about the noise of the heavy rain hitting a skylight during the night as well as how much light it will allow. Velux windows are usually cheaper than a dormer (which we will cover next), and normally don’t need planning permission.

Rooflights really let the light into this kitchen extension

Dormer Windows
Another option for loft spaces are Dormer windows which give you the benefit of maximising the headroom and then depending on your surroundings – enjoying a great view. Some home-owners choose to go for the balcony option so therefore, have big glass doors fitted opening out with a railing across to enjoy the morning sunshine.  Often homeowners go for both a Dormer window and rooflights to increase both headroom and the light coming in. Dormer windows are usually more expensive than skylights and most also require planning permission as they alter the exterior of the house.

Clerestory Windows
If you need to bring more natural light into your home without losing valuable wall-space and want to keep a degree of privacy, Clerestory windows could be the answer to your prayers.  Although mainly seen in the commercial sector or in contemporary/smart houses and apartments, these little gems are windows at high level (above your eye line) which can solve issues, such as overlooking in new extensions (which helps with planning permission) or hiding an ugly feature next door.

Clerestory windows can bring natural light in without losing wall space

Bi-fold Doors
With the continued trend for open-plan living; bi-fold doors are still very popular. They allow you to open up part of a wall or the whole of the back wall of a house; thereby joining your home with your garden space. If you have a smaller space you could consider French doors; but you will need to have the room for them to open out or inwards onto a wall.

Bifold doors not only increase the amount of light entering the home but also give great views outside and can be incorporated into both period renovations and modern extensions; due to the number of different sizes and styles available.  If you have a house that has dark and pokey areas; adding bifold doors when renovating or extending it is definitely worth considering; as they can make smaller spaces feel bigger.

Bifold doors really open up and connect your internal space to your garden

Glazed Internal Bifold Doors
With homeowners loving the trend of open-plan living; another way to increase natural lights is through adding internal bifold doors as they offer flexibility to your home. You can simple fold away the partition when guests are visiting or keep an eye on the kids while cooking dinner, and then shut them when you need privacy or to feel snug. By also choosing a glazed panel option it means the natural light can still flood the spaces, while keeping the practical functionality of internal doors.

You don’t generally need planning permission for bifold doors, but if your house is listed or in a conservation area, it is best to first check with your Local Planning Authority.

The Open Tread Staircase
Staircases are now becoming a real feature of many houses; from traditional bannisters and treads through to having no rails or glass rails. They can play a big role in the way light moves between the floor levels and opting for an open tread will give a greater sense of space and allow the light to trickle down. Adding a glass balustrade will then give a real contemporary look to your home.

The Glass Floor (or Ceiling)
If you have several levels to your home another way of gaining light from above is by installing either glass flooring or a panel of glass to the floor. This contemporary design not only lets additional light pass through to the rooms below, but makes a real talking point in your home. It isn’t just for new builds though, as it can be added to any age house within reason.

Sun Pipe
Some houses can have challenging internal layouts where extensions have been added over the years; therefore, leaving a room in the centre of the house with no windows and no natural light. Or you may have a house with a basement and would love to have some natural light entering the space? This is where sun or light tunnels or sun pipes as they are called are an ideal solution for introducing natural light into those awkward spaces. They allow light to reach this space and stop it feeling dark and claustrophobic.

We hope these suggestions have given you ideas for how to bring more natural light into your home and to better connect your house to your outside space. Whether it’s Summer or Winter; the more natural light you can achieve in your home the better.  

If you would like more information on which option would be the best choice for your current home or proposed self-build home, please do contact Building Tectonics 0n 01908 366000 as we will be only too pleased to advise you.

After interior of a kitchen leading to living room.

Extended in Tattenhoe

Our client wanted to create a larger kitchen family area, and a space to sit with friends and enjoy the views over the sunnier side of the house. They’d already thought that converting the garage to livable space may be part of the answer, but our job was to show how the existing and new spaces could be satisfactorily connected together. The resulting scheme achieves a very spacious house, with rooms that allow for separate activities to take place without interference, but also when the time is right, the doors can be opened to allow the new spaces to fully interact. Large folding sliding doors to the garden also allow the outside spaces to be used in conjunction too.
Our client said the following:

“The design has also allowed for some flexibility in how we use our living spaces, which has meant that we have been able to make the most of the increased light coming from the bifold doors and velux windows. We’re delighted with the new living area and the vaulted ceiling has created even more of a spacious feel than we had anticipated”.

The client is extremely pleased with the end result, as are we. To have choices in the way you use space is nice to have, and even though it isn’t requested by clients, we’ll suggest this to clients in the future.

We had been recommended to this client by a previous client, which makes it so much more rewarding.

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