Have you ever wondered how adding daylight to your home could improve your wellbeing? It’s something I’ve been researching recently and I thought you’d appreciate hearing about what I’ve found out too. Maybe you have been hankering after interior design tips about how to brighten up your home? Which seems to be the most asked for outcome in interior design after a “pulled together” and cohesive look and feel. Well, never fear. In this post, I’ll share some of the latest info on how adding daylight to your home can benefit your health and offer some practical advantages. I’ll also give you the details of a brilliant app released by VELUX to help you design your home and visualise the effect of allowing more daylight in and suggest some nifty ways you can get more natural light into your home. So let’s jump right in and find out more.
The Health Benefits of Adding Daylight
Getting a healthy dose of daylight in the morning can be massively beneficial. It increases our alertness, improving our performance. In the winter months, I really struggle with how dark the mornings are and I know I am not alone. Sleep experts extoll the virtues of having a consistent wake time every morning and for me, plenty of light is crucial to how quickly I feel “awake”. Throughout the day being exposed to plentiful amounts of natural light helps us to regulate our body clock. While lower levels of light in the evenings help prepare our bodies for sleep. If we do not get sufficient levels of daylight it can have a negative impact on our health, mood, productivity and ability to learn. It also lets you produce ample vitamin D which is vital for healthy strong bones.
Living and working in bright airy spaces are thought to better than working in dark, gloomy surroundings. I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to work that out, you’ve only got to set foot in a room without natural light (or a dreadful flickering overhead one!) and just feel in your bones that it doesn’t feel “right”. But why? Evidence suggests natural light improves mood, makes us feel less tired and can lead us to feel more positive about and satisfied with our lives. So less fatigue and reduced eyestrain is a benefit, but of course, you’re also more able to get “things” done when you’re exposed to longer amounts of daylight. In short, daylight makes you happier. In design circles, it’s well known natural light magically makes your space bigger. Actually, it doesn’t. But it does make our homes feel lighter and brighter and gives the feeling of more space than we actually have.
By allowing more daylight into your home by adding windows, for instance, also allows us to keep our connection with the natural world intact. Studies have shown that having a natural view is preferred to a man-made one. I’d highly recommend you take a look at the article written by Interior Designer Phoebe Oldrey here on Biophilic design. Having access to a natural view may increase your sense of well-being, reduce stress and even promote better sleep. Sounds like a win-win situation to me if ever there was one. But as always it isn’t always an easy task, especially if you live in a built-up urban environment. It turns out though, that a view of the sky can be just as beneficial as a view of rolling countryside. That at least is achievable for me, and something I am planning on doing.
Moreover, being exposed to plentiful amounts of natural light could also help prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or reduce symptoms in those who have the disorder. So the importance of the amount of daylight we allow into our homes takes on even greater significance.
Aside from natural daylight, additional windows have the good fortune of helping to have good ventilation inside your house. This
Practical advantages of increasing Daylight
You can save energy if you allow more natural light into your home, as you do not need to use as much electric lighting. Reducing the amount of electric lighting you use can also save you a substantial amount of money. Furthermore, you can influence society’s dependence on fossil fuels through imaginative and constructive use of windows as well as reduce the burning of greenhouse gases. So by adding daylight to your home, you’ll not only be saving money, you’ll be helping to save the planet too. Cool right?
VELUX virtual reality MyDaylight App
I came across the recently launched MyDaylight app in a press release from Velux (MyDaylight has been available on the UK market since January last year) but I came back to that press release recently as I’m planning some structural alterations to my own home. VELUX who launched MyDaylight, created this handy virtual reality daylight app to help you visualise the effect of daylight entering your home, with a 360-degree view and virtual reality options, affording you a fully immersive experience.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I’ve been talking about my bathroom renovation endlessly. What you may not know is that I am also opening up the ceiling over my stairwell to bring in some much needed natural light and vaulting my bathroom ceiling and creating a window opening. The My Daylight (which you can download in the app store for free) allows you to see how much light you would gain if you added a skylight. The app gives you the ability to experiment and to understand how adding daylight will transform a space. Including what impact changing the location of the window will have for example – you can actually see how much light there is. Or if you add two windows instead of one. Did you know that you get twice as much light through a slanted window than through a traditional vertical? I didn’t and I’ve been to design school!
You can play endlessly with your designs and scenarios to create as many simulations as you like. You can even pick the season or the time of day – so that you can see what it will be like in the low winter light, or the light when you get up for your commute to work. You can programme in the size of your room, the angle of the roof and drag to add a window and before you know it, you can convince your husband/client/contractor that it’s a brilliant idea.
Simple ways to let more natural light in
If you’re not in a position to add a new window there are some simple ways to allow more daylight into your home and make the most of the natural light you have available.
- Ensuring windows are clean and removing heavy, dark curtains. Or at least pulling them back far enough that they don’t obscure the window frame. My curtain installer recently did this in my bedroom and boy did it make a difference, almost seemed too simple.
- Placing mirrors strategically mirrors around the house to create the illusion of a brighter space. Mirrors not surprising reflect light so if you can bounce from one mirror to another then this makes a big difference. For example, using mirrors in the alcoves beside chimney breasts, or above a fireplace. In addition, if you use light, bright colours on your walls those can reflect, rather than absorb natural light. Although I think we all know of my love for deeply saturated colour! But a word of caution, no amount of white will make a dark room feel light.
- While installing larger windows and French doors will also allow more sunlight into light-stared living rooms, you can fake it if you can’t actually do it. Jordan and Russel of 2LG Studio have added blue mirror/reflective surfaces to the inside of their window reveal in their new extension (see below). It adds visual interest and appears to make the windows larger while reflecting light.
- Choosing glossy furniture also helps make the most of daylight. This works especially well in your kitchen and bathroom as shiny surfaces on units will reflect light filtering into the room and make
the spacelook brighter.
- Another trick is to replace your solid wood interior doors with ones with glazed panels. Replacing solid wood doors with glass doors can transform a lacklustre hallway with a hint of more light coming through, essentially borrowing light (see the Plain English image below).
I hope that by sharing some of the research I’ve discovered on the health benefits of adding more daylight into your home you’re fired up to make some plans. Having an understanding of how you can improve your wellbeing by modifying your environment is so inspiring (and enlightening), well, at least I think it is. Plus by not using as much
If you do have plans to add bigger windows or add skylight’s I highly recommend VELUX’s MyDaylight app to inspire you to let loads of daylight in. It certainly convinced my husband to add a little more to our budget to add this to our scheduled works. I hope you enjoy renovating your home, to see more of my renovation tips take a look here.
This was not a sponsored post. Top 5 images by Velux, other images via Instagram.
Ah this looks like such a clever app Mary, how great you can try before you buy! x
That app sounds brilliant Mary. I totally agree with adding more light – I love bright rooms. It can make such a difference to a home, making rooms feel more spacious.
I love this post Mary! The science and how that translates into our experience of a space is how I love thinking about design. The app looks very clever too and I love the sneak peek of your bathroom!
This app sounds amazing Mary. As I’ve moved from home to home over the years the amount of natural light has higher up my ‘essential’ list x
Great post Mary. I’m currently working on an article about Biophilic design and a lot of it has to do with natural light. I used to work in an office that had no windows. It was like torture going in there every day. I left in the end because it just made me feel so terrible spending the majority of my day in a gloomy artificial office. This app sounds really useful though.
Fab post Mary! Natural lighting is so so important. I do think the way our houses are built today don’t take this into consideration so it’s great that there are companies such as Velux that allow you to alter your light levels into your home. I’d hate to think what our kitchen diner would look like without our Velux’s! Will have to check this app out. Thanks for sharing!
Totally agree, daylight is the number one feature that will improve your house. We’ve got lovely bifold doors at the back, overlooking the garden. Otherwise our dining room would be a bit dark I think.