Considering the orientation of your home to channel light

Peter Daniel, product innovation director at The Rooflight Company, discusses how the orientation of your home can transform how light channels through your space.

Natural light is essential for modern homes. Not only does it create bright and airy spaces, but it’s also beneficial for your health, happiness and sleep schedule. In the UK, we mainly experience white light, particularly during the winter months and, channelled correctly, this can create a painterly feel to your home interiors. But you’ll need to consider the orientation of your property to get the most out of it.

If your home is East facing, the light will be more intense in the mornings, but shady by the evening, and vice-versa for Westerly facing properties. That’s why most older properties will have an Easterly facing “breakfast room”. This kind of room would make a nice spot for a kitchen or home office when you really need a bit of sunshine to wake you up in the morning. For the same reason, dining rooms are best orientated Westerly. If you have an open plan kitchen that runs East to West, you could have a breakfast bar near the Easterly end and the dinner table on the Westerly end so you can follow the sun as you sit to have your meals throughout the day.

North-facing rooms can often feel colder during the day as they face away from direct sunlight. Including a rooflight in the building plans can help with this as it will increase the amount of light entering the room throughout the day, creating a warmer, cosier feel in the home. In comparison, South-facing spaces benefit from warm light all day long, particularly in the summer months. A great spot for an orangery.

Orangeries are usually the best option over conservatories because excessive brightness can make them unusable. In an orangery you can choose to opt for multiple smaller rooflights instead of one large one, dulling the harsh summer light and distribute it more evenly. Conservatories are also considerably less thermally efficient.

Interestingly, there is a common misconception that having a pitched style rooflight will bring in more light than a contemporary flat alternative. Potentially, this is because we are so familiar with vertical windows. In reality this is untrue. Light enters a home no matter the style, it’s more about the window’s positioning to capture light in the best way for the room. Using daylight visualiser software is great to help get your head around what is quite a foreign concept here, and your architect will be able to help with this, so you can picture what is possible. For example, placing a rooflight above a kitchen island or dining table can create a standout concentration of light, but there is a risk it will be too bright in a South-facing room, so some thought needs to take place before finalising plans.

Light is such an important aspect within a space and should not be underestimated when planning your build. There are many useful ways to harness it to perfectly frame a room, it just takes some planning.

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