How to Utilise Natural Light in Your Home

Sunlight does a lot in uplifting one’s mood, improving your room’s colour quality, and even lowering your utility bills. Here’s how you can maximise natural light in your home.

Updated on June 21, 2017 8:06 am

Camille Besinga

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When you are thinking of changing up a room’s layout, repainting the walls, changing your furnishings or even adding artwork into a space, think first of what direction the room is facing to know how much natural light filters into the space.

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Why so? According to Clare Steel, author of Step-by-Step Home Design and Decorating, “The direction a room faces has an important effect on the amount and type of light it gets and the mood it creates.” Use the guide below to know how to get the effect and mood you want for the rooms in your home.

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East-facing rooms: These get a lot of light in the morning, but come afternoon time, it can get cool. But when there is light, it can be strong and can cause glare.

West-facing rooms: “This is tonally cooler in the morning than in the afternoon,” says Steele. As sunset colours can get intensely orange-y towards dusk, you need to pick colours that won’t clash with the light.

North-facing rooms: These generally don’t admit as much light, but if so, are often soft and indirect. As such, north-facing rooms are usually cooler than others.

South-facing rooms: These normally have adequate, warm light throughout the day.

When choosing to open up your space with big, floor-to-ceiling windows, choose a direction that won’t cause glare or too much heat. A north-facing room might be a good place for this design.

Glare is often unwelcome in a room because it makes occupants uncomfortable due to the blocking of one’s line of vision with a harsh, brilliant light. While soffits or roof eaves can help reduce glare when the sun is high, it won’t help the path of sunlight come sunrise (if in an easterly room) or sunset (in a western-facing room).

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More often than not, adequate natural light won’t require you to open artificial lights during the daytime, thereby reducing your overall utility costs. If you are also able to control heat gain/loss, you won’t need to open electric fans or airconditioning as often.

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Balance out glare and/or shadows cast by windows facing one direction by placing another window in a different direction.

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A mirror opposite a window reflects and bounces back sunlight coming in, which helps brighten up a light-starved space.

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Choose paint colours that reflect light rather than absorb it, to mimic the same effect as a mirror.

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Temper harsh sunlight with curtains or shades. Choose ones that are sheer enough to let light in, but opaque enough to add some semblance of privacy.

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Apart from windows, other ways of letting light in include installing dormer windows, clerestories (bands of windows along an upper wall), or a skylight, which also help exhaust hot air out of a house.


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Cover photo courtesy of Home Designing

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