natural home lighting

Home Lighting

Is your home a house of light?
Explore ways to enhance the transforming power of lighting in every room of your home. The pleasures of living in a well-lit home don't lessen, even with time. Beautiful, functional lighting makes a difference every single day in the way you live and how you feel about your home.

Any discussion about lighting your home has to begin with natural light. To the human eye, the desirable norm is sunlight. Part of its appeal is its variety. Consider the clear illumination on a cloudless mountaintop. Compare that to the diffused light on a misty morning or the intense brightness on a tropical beach. Then there's the changeability of sunlight between a cool rainy day, a clear winter afternoon, and a full summer blaze, or the contrast between the color of sunlight at noon and the way it appears as afternoon wears into evening.

The amount and quality of natural light a room receives depends on the size of its windows and its orientation with regard to the sun. South-facing windows get the lion's share of direct sunlight for most of the day. East-facing rooms benefit from early mornings, while rooms that face west are sunny in the afternoon. Because its back is to the sun, a north-facing room receives only indirect natural light and tends to be cool and dim.

When you are renovating or redecorating a room, always look at the existing space and take the seasons, time of day, and orientation of the windows into consideration. Sometimes making a window bigger, or adding another one, doesn't make a room brighter. If the window's sitting is toward the north, the room will just get colder. You can make a breakfast nook cheerier with a window that faces east, but don't try to take a late afternoon nap in a room with west-facing windows, unless you can control the light with shades, blinds, or lined curtains.

The natural light in the room will affect any tasks you perform as well. Never arrange furniture, such as a desk or worktable, so that you are facing directly into bright sunlight. But be careful about having your back to a window. This can create shadows on your work surface. Ideally, follow the old axiom that recommends "light coming from over the left shoulder." By charting the light, and arranging your room and selecting window treatments accordingly, you can avoid problems.