There is one simple, life-affirming need that can completely dictate the look and feel of your home: Light. With tons of sunshine flooding in, any space will feel larger, cheerful, welcoming, and functional. But should a space offer only darkness and gloom, well, suffice it to say that it becomes a space where we just don’t want to be.
When considering buying a home, potential homebuyers look for good light. When building a home, homeowners also seek to bring in light. But what happens if you already own a home that is dark and somewhat depressing? Is there anything you can do to let the sunshine in? This post is dedicated to finding solutions to lighten up the darkest home.
1. Bringing Light to a Dark Stairwell
One of the most common places for darkness in older homes is a stairwell. In existing homes built during a certain time period, stairwells were often enclosed with little natural light. Today, these claustrophobic passageways feel rather depressing. One solution to that problem is to help bounce light around, either by removing a wall completely, or, if you need a support for a handrail, installing a glass wall. The wall of glass allows light from the upper floor to filter downward into the first floor environs. At the same time, any natural light from downstairs gets to filter upstairs. Below is another stairway working on the same principle. Good ways to bring light into a stairwell include adding a solar tube or skylight in the stairwell, or windows, if possible.
Here’s another attempt to bounce light around a stairwell. This homeowner has not only added windows above the stairs, but went for a glass railing on the second level which allows light from upstairs windows to penetrate through all the dark spaces.
2. Solar tubes and skylights in any dark space.
Got a dark bathroom, hallway, closet or attic space? One alternative to traditional skylights is the solar tube, which can bring in tremendous amounts of light with more ease and at less cost than a skylight. The tube involves a relatively small round hole which is ensconced in a reflective material. That material allows the small opening to cast a tremendous amount of light.
Here’s another example:
And here, a skylight in what otherwise would have been a dark shower adds lots and lots of bright light. Installing a glass shower door rather than an opaque shower curtain also allows light to filter freely.
3. Open or glass walls whenever possible.
There’s a reason that open floor plans have become so popular in recent decades. Openness allows light to flow easily around a home. In many cases, though, walls are still useful. Sometimes, it’s for quiet, sometimes it’s for privacy. When this is the case, glass walls provide an alternative. They allow light to flow from room to room but can allow for privacy. Privacy is possible when glass is sandblasted or acid-etched so they are not completely transparent, as you see below.
And here’s another example:
So you see, darkness does not have to be an option.Think creatively, and you can get the sun to shine in even the darkest corner.
Bold bands of aluminum delineate two glass rectangles stacked to form an isolated cabin by Mcfarlane Green Biggar Architecture + Design.
The weekend getaway is perched atop a steep rocky cliff on a rugged and remote island off the northeast coast of British Columbia.
A young Vancouver couple with two children commissioned the isolated cabin on rugged Gambier Island as a contemporary version of a cabin in the woods.
With the remote island’s rugged topography, and difficult boat access, the architects maximized prefabrication offsite.
This reduced the number of barge trips needed to deliver materials and remove waste.
The remote location of the secluded home meant it is only accessible by boat and the site had strict environmental controls related to the shoreline.
So barges brought the two stacked boxes clad in wood, cement board, and insulated glass.
One rectangle housed three bedrooms and two bathrooms and the other contained the open plan kitchen, dining and living space.
Opening from the middle of the upper rectangle, a rooftop terrace is formed atop the living room rectangle.
The offset rectangles form a cohesive frame from which to take in the sublime views to the sea and mountains beyond.
Despite the huge ceiling to floor glazing on the bedrooms at each end, a sense of privacy is preserved from this upstairs terrace by the short wall concealing the pillow end of the bed.
The bedrooms occupy each end of the upper rectangle.
Like the living rectangle downstairs, both floors and ceilings are Douglas fir, creating warm interior spaces.
The children’s bedrooms are anchored into the steep forested hillside.
The architects’ successful execution of their prefabrication strategy brought the least possible disruption to the wooded waterfront of unspoilt Howe Sound.
A dreamy escape is on offer at Phan Thiết, Binh Thuan, in Vietnam from MM++ Architects.
From the pool, one seems to looking at a living room.
But actually, its clever design make one space function superbly as either living room or bedroom or office.
All the interior layouts are designed so as to offer a generous sea view for each space, indoors or out.
Upon arrival, guests are welcomed by a cool and shallow sunlit water feature set into the foyer.
Directly across from the foyer, an outdoor kitchen is available to refresh the returning traveler.
The resort comprises three buildings, each with their own swimming pool.
Two of the villas have three bedrooms, and one has four.
The grassy area in front of each villa is raised up from the beach about five feet in order to separate it from the beach front.
Cool stone floors delight sandy feet on return from the beach to a sublimely restful bedroom.
Fresh and clean, sunlight follows the open air indoors.
Pools are literally just a step down from the villas.
Trellises provide delightful dappled shade for interior courtyards.
Guests are greeted with lovely tropical plantings.
A perfectly controlled tangle of tropical greenery precisely offsets the palette of white stucco and red cedarwood.
Another boxed-in glass landscaped cube ensures guests are never too far from nature.
Even outside, the trees seem to follow an organized modular rhythm.
Materials used the Oceanique Villas are simple and fresh and the design is minimalist but considerate, creating an altogether charming retreat.
A commanding residence by Longhi Architects is built entirely of stone right on the sand at a popular coastal resort in Peru.
The unsettling space has a cold and intimidating beauty.
The flowing palatial elegance of the chairs gathered at this table contrasts with the unrelenting stone setting.
Chilly stone surrounds an uncomfortable seating arrangement, that seems designed more for business associates to receive difficult and painful news than for any friendly exchange.
Designed to intimidate, this is no place for conviviality.
The residence actually seems more like a corporate office for a billionaire industrialist than a home.
There is lavish use of heavy cold stone throughout, culminating in this semi sculptural arrangement by the stairs.
The whole second floor frame of the house is even made of stone.
This same stone is even used in bathrooms.
Deep stairs are also hewn from stone by the glass-encased pool.
Although the exterior is reminiscent of many beach houses, inside a cold and mysterious aesthetic takes over.
Even the kitchen seems more like a sculpture of the idea of a kitchen than place to actually cook something good to eat.
Altogether a fascinating and strange residence that seems more built to impress others than to live life.
An art studio designed by AR Arquitetos in Brazil is cool and chic, with an elegance that belies its concrete construction.
The entrance recreates the feeling of a street with random buildings.
An internal concrete stairway ascending a cube has a satisfyingly sculptural heft.
Under the cube, stairs lead down to a sleeping space.
The painting studio has a double height ceiling allowing the high window to diffuse the northern light from above.
After ascending the sculptural staircase, the top of the cube pushes out into the world.
Another philosophical contemplation area that extends indoors and out offers a low concrete bench suspended just above ground.
In this courtyard, a sudden flourishing of nature is startling in the context of unrelieved concrete.
Even more metaphysical is another stair that seems more like a sculpture of a stair than a simply functional design.
Altogether an interesting art studio that is more art than architecture.