Let there be light!
Our cave dwelling days over, and modern architecture is all about how we can maximise natural light and reap the benefits.
The natural light in your home has an enormous impact on your life, and largely determines how spacious and welcoming your home feels, your mood, room temperature, environmental sustainability, and of course, the size of your energy bills.
As you may have heard, a north-facing orientation is optimal as it will allow your property to capture the most natural light and warmth during winter months, making those cold and gloomy winter days a little more bearable.
To really take advantage of your north facing aspect, carefully consider the layout of your home during the planning stages, as your main living areas and backyard are the rooms most likely to benefit. On top of keeping your social areas feeling vibrant and luminous, your garden will be grateful for the added sunlight and will help to alleviate some of the sun’s heat during those scorching summer months. More importantly, your energy bills will be a little less daunting, as you’ll be less dependant on electric lighting and heating.
When it comes to windows, the bigger, the better. More glass means more light streaming through your home, however, large windows can be a double-edged sword in the Australian climate. As the days start to get warmer you may be wondering how your new home will cope with blistering summer months, and the reality is large windows will also let in the heat. All of a sudden your radiant room with a view can become a live-in oven.
The solution: invest in double glazed windows. Though potentially pricey upfront, double glazed windows will help insulate your home from heat during summer and prevent heat loss during winter. Once again, you air-con will thank you. Just think of those long-term savings!
Lovers of architecture might also want to consider clerestory windows. Named after the upper part of a church, clerestory windows sit just below the ceiling and allow light to stream through from above. A woefully underused feature that is sure to lend your new home a sense of elegance and grandeur, when well placed, they can help you maximise sunlight without compromising on wall space.
You may spend an eternity choosing the perfect light fixtures for your new abode, but don’t ignore the powerful potential of skylights - your new best friend for brightening up a dark room, especially those tricky interior spaces and windowless rooms. Ultimately, they’re an energy efficient addition to any home and when combined with a ventilation system, your skylight can function as a passive air-conditioner allowing warm air to rise and escape.
If you’re committed to soaking up as much sun as possible, you can even use your decor to reflect sunlight into your house. Whites and lighter tones are the best reflectors, so keep that in mind when you’re choosing paint colours and flooring. A little smoke and mirrors can also go a long way to illuminating those tough areas. You’d be amazed at the ability a well-placed hanging mirror has to magically transform a dark hallway.
Now that you’re equipped with all you need to know, it’s time to brighten up your new home and your life!