Having converted my loft, I know that making the best of the available light is essential for it not to feel cramped. Under the eaves, room to stand up and move about may be limited, but it needn’t feel that way. You just need to consider the ways of maximising the amount of light that you can get in. When furnishing a loft, you need to be very careful about the sort of furniture you buy and colour palette that you opt for. In most cases, this means keeping thing as light as possible. However, when you start out with a design for loft conversion, make a careful note of where your skylights will be. The position of roof windows can be limited by the location of joists in your roof line, so thoughtful planning is required. Ideally, you want a roof window as close to the stairwell as possible because these are often the darkest places in the whole of a home.
When it comes to extensions, skylights can certainly make a difference, too. If you are looking at a two storey extension off the back of your home, conventional windows may be suitable, but where you have a single pitched roof extending over a ground floor extension, they are certainly preferable for making the extension that much lighter. Remember that the room which connects to the extension may well lose light as a result of the new construction so you may want more light than you might think. Rear facing windows can only cast their light so far, depending on where the sun happens to be. Therefore ceiling mounted roof windows are ideal when extending, just as they are with loft conversions.
When you really want to maximise the amount of light you can get into your home, it is probably better to abandon roof windows all together. Roof lanterns do a much more comprehensive job of optimising the amount of sunlight that will reach into the interior. Remember that this will not just benefit the extension, but the original house, as well. These days, uPVC is a common material used to support the frames of these sorts of fully-glazed roofs. However, a particularly smart looking alternative is aluminium which roof lanterns can also be made from. These tough frames can support motorised opening systems, perfect for allowing unwanted heat to escape in summer without having to reach up. They also have a very slim profile when compared to other materials, so more light is allowed in with less shade, as a result.
Another last option worthy of consideration is the humble light tube. These may not be windows that you can actually see the sky from, but they do allow natural light into the darker patches of a home. You do, of course, need to be able to direct the light via the tube, so there needs to be space for you to angle the light they capture to the right space – otherwise you will end up with unsightly pipes running about your home. Remember that these gadgets work from a wall as well as from a roof, so you shouldn’t rule them out of your plans for increasing natural light.
What are your favourites?