How to let more light flow into, through your home

Lynn Goldman had several dark rooms in her Dunwoody home. But after a recent renovation, she sees her home in a whole new light.

For help on ways to brighten her foyer, living room and adjoining sunroom, Goldman hired her go-to contractor Greg Poppe of Suwanee-based Poppe Construction. She also consulted with Alexis Solomon Design Studio.

For starters, the entryway between the living room and window-lined sunroom was widened. Doors were removed to allow an easy flow to and from the light and airy rooms. In a nearby hallway, more doors were removed or replaced with sliding pocket doors to make the space feel larger.

Throughout the first-floor spaces, new recessed ceiling lights, sconces and chic chandeliers were installed. New paint on once-dark cabinets and walls instantly brightened the rooms.

Upstairs, skylights also were added to the children’s bathrooms as part of the lighten-up renovation.

“These projects were more about refreshing and adding light,” said Goldman, an attorney and mom of two. “I wanted to add — or make the most — of the natural light we had.”

Adding natural light to your home is a key design concept that many people overlook, according to designers and architects. Light can be the difference between making a room look airy and elegant over one that looks dark and unwelcoming.

“Natural light makes us feel better,” said Steve Kemp of Kemp Hall Studio in Atlanta. “The most successful homes expand living spaces and connect you to the outside.”

For tips on how to open up your house to more light, consider these tips from VELUX America, Marvin Windows and Doors and Andersen Windows & Doors.

Windows

As one of the oldest lighting fixtures, a window is still one of the best for bringing light into a room. Available in various shapes, styles, colors and sizes, windows also can add space and personality to a room. Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • Clerestory windows. Clerestory windows (windows placed near the ceiling) will provide light and ventilation without compromising privacy and wall space. This style also can highlight rooflines and architectural details or areas of the ceiling.
  • Window walls. Floor-to-ceiling walls of glass maximize views, add light and connect the indoors and outside. A wall of windows can dramatically change the appearance of your house.
  • Porthole. Not just a maritime detail, a porthole window can add a chic, modern touch to any room.

Window tip: One large window or group of windows provides better light distribution than several smaller windows placed apart from one another.

Skylights

A good and economical way to add spaciousness, brightness and style to a room is to pop a skylight into the ceiling. Skylights can show off a ceiling’s striking pitch, bring the outdoors in to a dark bathroom or dreary kitchen and offer sky and treetop views. Additionally, if they are operable, skylights can provide a source of ventilation. But figuring out where in a room to locate a skylight is important.

Today’s skylights are more energy-efficient and offer many features that were not available a few years ago. In addition, some, like VELUX, offer a no-leak warranty that addresses one of the major concerns about skylights in the past.

Tunnel skylights

Resembling mini skylights, these tubelike units are installed between the roof and ceiling to bring light into an area without much ceiling space, such as a closet or hallway or an interior bathroom.

Tunnel or tubular skylights are usually less expensive than traditional skylights and can be installed by an experienced do-it-yourselfer. Additional accessories can include light kits for non-daylight lighting, blinds and remote controls.

Doors

  • Front door. Exchange a solid exterior door for one with windows. From sidelights to transoms, windows serve an important role in entryways, providing views, light and architectural character.
  • Interior doors. Provide soundproofing and privacy. But are there some rooms in your home where you can exchange a solid door for one with glass? This will allow light to flow through the doorway and increase the feeling of brightness in your home. French doors or doors with frosted glass panels provide a way for rooms to share light and make an area, such as a narrow hallway, feel more open. Many of today’s homeowners are removing some solid interior doors altogether to open up rooms.
  • Sliding doors, plus. Sliding, swing or bi-fold glass doors will open up a room to more light and allow you to take advantage of a nice view.

Other ways to shed light

  • Widen doorways.
  • Take down unnecessary walls.
  • Remove inside obstructions, such as furniture or heavy curtains. When Goldman discovered a valance over her living room window blocked light, she took it down.
  • Paint. Use white or light colors on ceiling and walls. They reflect natural light better than darker colors.
  • Trim or remove outside obstructions, such as trees and bushes that block natural light.
  • Add interior lighting. Homes need a mix of lighting, including ambient or general lighting (such as canned lights or chandeliers), task and accent lighting.
  • Use mirrors. Mirrors reflect, rather than absorb, light. Hang or prop a large mirror on a wall opposite a window to increase the light streaming in. Use smaller mirrors to line the backs of bookshelves or arrange a group of them on one wall.

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