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The Quality Of Natural Light Depends A Lot Upon Which Way The Windows To A Room Face

Optimizing Natural Light in Your Home

Last Updated on October 21, 2011

Lighting is one of the least obvious and yet most vital aspects of interior design. Ideally right from the start of designing the layout of a room you should be aiming to get the best effect possible. There are a range of factors you need to consider when lighting your home, one of the most vital of which is how to get the best out of the natural light available.

The quality of natural light depends a lot upon which way the windows to a room face. In the northern hemisphere light tends to have the following qualities (If you live in the southern hemisphere just reverse them):

  • North facing window: The light tends to be colder and harsher than from other directions. North facing rooms are great for artistic endeavours as the light gives you a true impression of the colours.
  • East facing window: Bright in the morning, with long shadows but will be dark in the late afternoon and evening. East facing rooms make for bedrooms as they will help you align yourself with the day’s rhythm.
  • South facing window: Will have a warm light all day, though the quality will change as the day progresses. Good for living rooms as it will allow the room to stay warm and well lit for most of the day.
  • West facing window: Dark in the morning, but bright in the evening with long shadows. Great for dining rooms as the light will help you entertain guests in the evening.

As implied in the above descriptions it is important for you to consider lighting when deciding on the purpose of each room. Of course my take on what lights are good for what rooms depends upon your own circumstances and rooms. For example people who regularly work night shifts might prefer a west facing bedroom to an east facing one. Whatever the purpose of a room you need to decide on the best way of lighting it.

For functional rooms such as a kitchen you will want large windows to let in as much light as possible. If possible either go without window treatments or use treatments such as wooden venetian blinds, which will allow you to exercise a lot of control over how much light gets in and out. In rooms which are more for living in will benefit from smaller windows and treatments such as curtains or roller blinds which will allow you to change the quality of the light by diffusing it for a warmer effect.

You should also consider the natural light when choosing the colours to paint your walls. Depending on the purpose of the room you will either want to emphasise or counter the effect that the lighting has. For example dark colours in a north facing room will create a dramatic and intimate effect whereas pastels, particularly ones with orange or yellow hues will help to warm and brighten the room. In contrast south facing rooms receive so much light that you will want to avoid bright colours so they don’t appear overwhelming. Neutral and dark colours will work well.

East and west facing rooms are trickier because of the change of light over the course of the day. Because you want to use east facing rooms in the morning and west facing in the evening I would recommend bright colours for the eastern rooms to help you wake up and warm colours in the west to help you wind down.

Image: Chanzi

Author Bio: Daniel is a UK blogger and copywriter with an interest in interior design.

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