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Daylighting Your Home: Windows

photography by Christina Kiffney Photography

Daylighting: Add More Natural Light to your Home

The short days of winter can leave you longing for more...more daylight.  Many of us live here in Boulder, Colorado due to the surplus of sunshine.  The long, cloudy winter days of Minnesota are behind me.  Now I appreciate the constant sunny days with the rest of the Boulderites.  Like so many of our clients, the ability to blend indoor spaces with outdoor patios and decks is key.  But what can you do in those freezing months, as you stare out at your snowed-in firepit?  That’s the question of the year, as people sit at home and ponder the changes they can make to their home during this pandemic!  I will try to cover a general outline of your options here and, as always, feel free to call and we can dig into the details together.

First option: Adding windows

They are the most direct link to viewing the outdoors.  If you already have good window placement, then consider your window coverings.  I’ve been in houses where clients complain of a lack of natural light, only to discover that every window in the house has large plantation style shutters over every window.  Although these can be beautiful and impressive, they block so much light, especially if they can’t fold completely open.  One of my favorite window coverings is the top-down-bottom-up, cellular shade.  It is so versatile.  My wife and my morning ritual is to pull down the top of the shades on our 3 picture windows staring out at the mountains.  It’s funny, these picture windows also face our driveway, which inevitably has a car parked in it.  Who wants to stare at their car while they are relaxing on the couch?  But with the bottom of the shade still covering the lower portion of the window, it allows us to hide the driveway while enjoying the beauty of Colorado.  And the cellular shades that we use also allow filtered light to penetrate the room. This is a huge benefit, like in the example above, where the bottom half of the window still allows a glow of daylight to spill into the room.

Use Cellular Shades

Another benefit of the cellular shade is it’s compact nature.  They fold up nicely and can nest at the top or bottom of a window and be almost completely clear of the daylight potential.  I find that many other window coverings become too bulky for me.  Drapes and curtains can add too much mass at the edges of the openings.  To me, it seems like the less “weight” you add to an opening allows your mind to appreciate the lightness and brightness...the “less is more” principle.  Plus, these bulkier coverings can block features like trim and electrical devices (switches and outlets.)  Not to mention how they can move when the vent from the forced air furnace starts blowing on them.

Windows with Privacy Features

I digress, sometimes there just aren’t enough windows.  I’ve been in neighborhoods where there are entire walls of a home with no windows on it.  You might be saying, “well I don’t want to stare at my neighbors house.”  Right, this can be true, so add a higher window or take advantage of the light filtering window coverings mentioned above.  At this point, you are going from “zero” to “something”.  You can peruse Houzz or Pinterest and find image after image of creative placement of windows throughout a home.  The latest trend has been adding windows within the backsplash space along a kitchen counter.  The dramatic impact of these rather small windows is impressive.  Or you can add a small window to a shower and really change the feel of the bathroom.  You also have several glass options or coatings that can be applied to the window in order to affect its transparency.  The most popular is to use “frosted” glass.  This is a timeless feature.  Next time you are at our office, you can take a look at our large double hung window in our bathroom.  It definitely gives you a feeling of being “exposed” since it is such a private space.  We’ve overcome this with a super fun window film that was creatively printed to add privacy.  We were even allowed to choose our level of privacy within each print option.  On a side note, we even added an “old school” interior window over the bathroom door to allow the natural light to continue through and light up the hallway.

Phew, there is so much to say about windows, I could go on for hours.  But I should also mention the merits of glazed doors (doors with glass in them.)  They can make a dynamic change to a dark space.  Allowing light to continue bouncing through the home is the ultimate goal.  I’ve outfitted my entire basement with frosted glass interior doors, so that no matter which side of the home the sun is pushing light through, it can spill into the most interior depths of my subterranean family space. Read more about my basement here.

Lastly, there are roof lights.  Examples of these can be skylights or solar reflective tubes.  I feel like I could write an entire blog just on this genre...and maybe I will...But for now, check out our facebook feed for more info on those!

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