Why does natural light matter in interiors?
Natural light is up there as an essential thing to consider when designing any interior. It’s pretty hard to view a house without ever hearing someone sell a home as having ‘lots of natural light’. Natural light has a pretty amazing way of elevating rooms, making them feel larger and boosting your mood at the same time.
Taking advantage of this type of light reduces the need for overhead spotlights and lamps in the daytime - which is great news for energy efficiency. As the light outside changes throughout the day, spaces can take on new atmospheres. In short, taking natural light into account in interior design isn't an aspect to be ignored.
What is daylighting?
Daylighting is an interior design technique that focuses on bringing as much natural light as possible into spaces by using windows, skylights and other types of glazing. Daylighting aims to reduce the need for artificial lights and in turn, saves energy.
What are the benefits of daylighting?
- Improved mood
- Greater sense of wellbeing
- Regulates the body clock (circadian rhythm)
- Combats fatigue
- Highlights furniture and decor
- Reduces energy usage
1. Mirrors, mirrors and more mirrors
It’s pretty well known that mirrors can help make a room look bigger - that’s why we love them for small spaces. Make the most of the natural light that comes through your windows by using oversized mirrors. Experiment with leaning mirrors or wall-mounted frames to help bounce light around a room. Place your mirrors where the light can reach them - opposite a large window or glass door is best. Larger mirrors as they double up as both a decor piece and a practical item.
Try out mirrors in less commonly used places like stairways, landings, above sofas and in kitchens. The aim here is to give natural light as much opportunity to reflect throughout your place as possible. The more mirrors and reflective surfaces you can add, the lighter and brighter your home will feel.
2. Choose light-enhancing colours and materials
This one is especially important for compact, smaller spaces. Create an illusion of more space (and in turn, more light), by going easy on two things: dark colours and matte finishes. Dark colours, unsurprisingly, will always dampen any natural light, especially if the room is north-facing. This can lead to a more closed-in feeling, which is something you’ll want to avoid if a brighter look is important to you.
Instead, opt for lighter colours that naturally reflect the light better. Neutrals like white, beige and light grey are often go-to’s. Don’t skimp on colour if that’s your thing, though. Choose light, pastel shades or cooler tones for walls if you’re trying to stay away from neutrals. When it comes to materials - things like upholstery, worktops, flooring and furniture - look for items that naturally reflect light. This could mean a glass coffee table, a gloss white countertop, or even a metal floor lamp. Anything that gets light bouncing around the room gets our vote where daylighting is concerned.
3. Pick your window dressings wisely
Take advantage of the power of natural light by considering window treatments (blinds, curtains, shutters, etc). Diffuse any harsh sunlight that floods your rooms at the start and end of the day by using translucent curtains made from breathable materials like linen or cotton. Choose a curtain pole that’s much wider than the window - this makes sure you can pull your curtains fully back, maximising the window area and allowing loads of light to come in. For areas of the home with skylights, such as bedrooms and hallways, consider sliding blinds. These can be easily opened during the day to brighten interiors and then closed in the evening for privacy.
Start your day right by getting into the habit of opening up all of your blinds and curtains first thing in the morning. Doing this will help kickstart your circadian rhythm, which is your body’s own internal wake-up/sleep clock. Choosing the right window treatments impacts everything to do with daylighting your home, so it’s good to keep this in mind for a better sense of well-being.
4. Be smart with furniture layouts
When we’re thinking about daylighting, the layout of your furniture usually gets overlooked. This is a really important step to consider, as the positioning of bigger items can really impact how light travels through your space. Think about keeping paths of light that come through windows and glass doors unobstructed. Place sofas, beds, wardrobes and other big pieces away from the windows if you have space, and let sunlight stretch freely from one end of the room to the other. This layout tactic is even more crucial in north-facing rooms where light can be harder to come by.
If you’re not sure where to start, it’s a good idea to pay attention over the course of a few days to where light lands in your space at different hours of the day. Aim to weave seating areas and workspaces into these pockets of sun to get the best mood-enhancing benefits. For example, if there’s a corner of your living room that gets its own pocket of sun during the day, consider adding an accent chair or armchair there. This makes for a great place to relax, and the natural light will help make a feature out of the corner.
Embracing natural light at home is more than just a passing trend—it's your ticket to a better mood, a more open-feeling space, and a pat on the back where energy efficiency’s concerned. Keep in mind that all these techniques are about staying in tune with your space and the seasons. Try out these tips, tweak them as you go, and watch your space get brighter.
A sun-filled room isn’t just about aesthetics - it’s healthier, energy-boosting and a positive space for your well-being. Whether you're letting daylight do its magic with cleverly placed mirrors, choosing light-loving reflective materials or arranging furniture to make the most of golden hour sun - each tip we’ve shared will get you one step close to mastering daylighting in your own home.