Adding More Natural Light to your Home


Creating light, airy spaces has been the aim of most architects for well over a century. Even the Victorians knew that exposure to daylight had huge health benefits. Thanks to thicker walls and the prevalence of terraced housing in older properties however, natural light sources can be few and far between.

At Bluelime Home Design we have lots of experience with home renovation and opening up spaces to allow more natural light in to a property. Here are some of the best tips of the trade for adding natural light sources to a historical property.

Windows to the world

Think of a medieval structure and you'll most likely picture large, thick stone walls with tiny slats for windows. Not exactly conducive to an interior bathed in light. This is not always the case however. Lots of higher status houses, for example, would of had large open halls with large double-height windows. Their service and storage rooms would also, by necessity, have large openings. These can be utilised in conjunction with opening up interior space, to create more natural light without changing anything about the exterior of a property.

Thanks to the imposition of the window tax in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, many home owners in England, France, Ireland and Scotland had their windows filled in. Reinstating these blocked up windows can be a great way to introduce more light to your property, without interfering with the original design as arguably you are just restoring it to its intended aesthetic. There are some things to consider, however. If the structure was altered at the time of blocking it off, a window opening may no longer be capable of supporting weight if knocked through. You may also find that preserving the historical significance of blocked off windows is higher on the agenda for some local authorities.

Indoor glass

So, what if you buy a property post Window Tax? By the Victorian era, houses were built with large sash windows to allow as much light in as possible. The trade off is that they present a poor thermal barrier leading to higher energy bills. The classic Victorian terrace of town houses also tend to offer very dark hallways and stairwells, areas that are hard to add light to from external sources.

The solution here is often in removing internal walls and replacing them with glass partitions. Adding 'internal windows' allows light to flow between rooms and hallways. Another, perhaps more radical solution, is to install an area of glass flooring in an upper floor. Daylight is then free to pass up and down helping to open up the space.

Alternatively, if a glass floor seems too radical; a sunpipe reflective metal tube can be installed to channel sunlight from your roof to pretty much anywhere in your house. These are very cost effective and largely unintrusive.

Glass ceilings

For single storey buildings and barn conversions, an excellent solution is to install rooflights. These generally do not interfere with preserving a listed building's status and open up large spaces. Clerestory strips are also a great way to add natural light to ground floor rooms that require privacy, such as bathrooms and bedrooms.

Please contact us at Bluelime Home Design, architects in South East London today with offices in Bexley, Bromley, Dartford, Erith and Croydon, to learn more of our architecture tips or discover how we can help you find new and exciting ways to add more natural light to your property.

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