The Role of Natural Light in Selecting Your Home

When shopping for a home, most buyers consider a home’s size and layout. The neighborhood and the school district may be other relevant factors. Do you ever think about the role of natural light in a potential home?

Maybe you should.

Good For Your Health

Exposure to sunlight improves your sleep by helping to keep your circadian rhythms in sync. It also reduces the need for fluorescent lights, which have been tied to health problems, including elevated stress responses and sleep disturbances.

Natural light is good for everyone but particularly essential to those people with light-related health issues, like seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a major depressive disorder that impacts an estimated 6 percent of the population.

Another 14 percent of people experience less severe mood dips related to seasonal sunlight changes known as the “winter blues.”

Working With a Dark House

If you’ve fallen in love with a house that lacks natural light, your priority may be adding more warm-weather outdoor living space with a great patio, including DIY options.

Or, a glassed-in porch or sun-room addition may be a perfect solution that doesn’t require significant changes to your home’s interior.

Although natural light is usually preferable, many “full-spectrum” lamps and lighting options are now available at affordable prices. In particularly challenging areas of a dark home, you may need to “plug in” your daylight.

Let There Be Light!

Eliminate light-blocking window treatments in favor of unfettered windows. Or replace heavy drapes with sheer curtains.

If you need more privacy than bare windows will permit, consider using half-window treatments like café curtains, interior shutters, or adjustable accordion blinds that offer privacy while leaving the upper part of your windows exposed.

If you have traditional blinds, keep them open when the sun is out and close them in the evening.

Creative Reflection

You can also expand the sun’s reach by carefully positioning mirrors to reflect light into darker living spaces. For example, if a hallway or one corner of a room is dark, use mirrors to bounce a little sunlight around.

Reflective paint can also brighten spaces. Opt for lighter colors and forgo matte finishes. Lighter shades of furniture and rugs will also help expand natural light inside your home.                                                                 

Potential Downsides

Over time, natural light will bleach and deteriorate upholstered furniture and rugs, so placing these items directly in the sun’s path may not be the “brightest” idea.

Well-placed skylights can bring in the light, without negatively impacting your furnishings or floor treatments. A home with deep eaves or roof overhangs can still provide plenty of natural light without the companion sun damage.

If you have (or want) a sunlight-bright home, be selective in your furniture choices. Lighter colors fade less than darker ones. Avoid using silk, leather, and linen fabrics in direct or indirect sunlight, since they are most prone to fading and deterioration. Cotton and wool blended with nylon or polyester are slower to lose color.

Personal Preferences

Many people naturally prefer light, airy spaces. A home with an abundance of natural light is typically more welcoming than darker rooms. Light and bright rooms appear larger and emotionally warmer.

Before buying a new house, observe how it’s oriented. Try to view the interior at different times of the day to determine how the natural path of the sun will travel inside. (Also, remember that the sun’s path will change with the seasons.)

How much light you need depends on you. It’s personal. Start playing with natural light in your current living space. Become attuned to what you need, then find a home that helps you create spaces that contribute to your happiness.