When it comes to using light in an interior space, there is no doubt that natural light is the one thing that people wish they could have more of within their rooms. Whilst artificial lighting has an important role to play in the design of interiors, natural daylight is preferable when it comes to enhancing the character of the space. It has the ability to visually increase the size of the interior, can enhance forms and textures, and when diffused, can make interesting patterns upon surfaces. Furthermore, natural light is ever changing with times of day, the weather and the seasons, and this can result in the components of an interior varying in tone, colour and visual appearance during these times. This constant change, however subtle, can enhance the psychological well-being of the occupant, as the room can appear to be able to keep in tune with one’s natural diurnal rhythms.
So how can we enhance the levels of natural lighting within the home?
If possible, increase the window area of a particular room by either changing or enlarging existing windows, adding extra ones, or installing skylights. A much larger increase of light can be achieved by partially removing a wall and adding a conservatory.However, these changes may not always be possible due to structural problems, planning issues or budget. In cases such as these, dark rooms may benefit from the installation of a sunlight pipe. A sunlight pipe is a structure which effectively channels natural daylight from an externally placed dome, through a reflective structure and into the area where further light is desired. The daylight delivered is via a recessed light fixture set into the ceiling, and the resultant effect is intensified and room enhancing.
Don’t underestimate the power of light reflection! Place mirrors in strategic positions to reflect and bounce daylight around a room. If placed carefully, they can not only help to expand the interior space, but also transport a green and leafy external view into the interior.
The use of chrome, stainless steel and other highly polished surfaces can also enhance the natural light levels due to their reflective properties.
Using glass in interior design can assist in creating a light airy space since light absorption will be minimal. The most common way of embracing this material is by the use of glass furniture or glass internal doors, but an increasingly more popular way of including it within a scheme is by the use of glass blocks as a partition wall. In this instance, not only can one create a wall with light filtering properties, but privacy is maintained if necessary.
When it comes to colour scheming, consider a light neutral colour scheme for your walls. Visually stimulating colours will not only ‘compete’ with the degree of daylight available, they may also absorb it, thus lowering the quantity of natural light levels available. For example, white surfaces reflect 70% of the light hitting it, whereas some dark surfaces can absorb so much that only 25% or so of the light is reflected. Bring darker hues into the room with your accessories such as lampshades and cushions.
A further way of maximising the available light is to keep window dressings to a minimum. Heavy curtains drawn halfway across a window can cut out a good percentage of light entering a room. Make sure curtains are stacked back as far as possible with a stylish tie back. Better still, why not use voile panels as an alternative to curtains? These can look both ethereal and beautiful, and of course their translucency will allow that much required natural light to filter through in a most attractive way.