Designing without maximizing natural light in mind is like saying no to free stuff. The sun’s energy already gives us this precious resource in lieu of extra lamps and exposure to natural light throughout the day yields physiological benefits that later offset other healthcare costs. It’s therefore critical to maximize natural light in any space, regardless of whether or not it has direct access to the outdoors. A recent design workshop from Houzz outlines the many ways natural light can be brought into a room where it might almost seem unnatural.
Clear glass transmits the most light to adjacent rooms. Placing glass in a wall above eye level helps diffuse light to the next room while maintaining privacy in both. The tactic is common is office spaces, but could easily make for more inviting bedrooms in homes as well. Translucent glass panes or walls can also be incorporated into spaces to add comfortable light that isn’t as bright light transmitted through clear glass. Glass that is textured, laminated, or sandblasted will absorb and reflect some light and scatter the rest depending on the degree of translucency.
Much like glass areas at the top of walls, a transom indoor window above a door adds a way to borrow light without sacrificing precious wall space.
Stairs are generally considered more for transporting people than light, but a stairwell is an excellent vehicle for borrowing light from an upper story. Surrounding stairs with glass and white walls aids the process, particularly if a stairwell is oriented to appropriately capture afternoon sunlight upstairs.
Interior windows, particularly if frosted, offer the ability to borrow light from adjacent rooms without sacrificing privacy. They also increase ventilation and since interior windows don’t require the same insulation they are generally much cheaper.
Skylights, particularly when paired with light wells that carry light even farther to other stories, are a great option for borrowing natural light. This is particularly true in densely populated areas where a typical exterior window might face a dark corner or wall. Again, reflective walls like white tile in a bathroom will especially help sunlight travel from a skylight to other parts of the room.
Light tubes and small, high-technology solar tubes use effectively channel light. They are most useful for getting light into darker corners or borrowing natural light in bathrooms where less glass is best for more privacy.
Read more about how to borrow light on Houzz.