Incorporating light into interior design can go far beyond a few strategically placed, attractive lamps and some upgraded overhead lights. It's possible to use both natural and artificial lighting to complement other decor and architectural elements, and to create a brighter, upbeat mood that makes your home more enjoyable year-round.
Every home needs a little of each of the following types of lighting to meet your needs throughout the day:
• Task lighting focuses light into a specific area, for tasks that require more illumination.
• Accent lighting shines a light on decorative elements, such as art or architectural features.
• Ambient lighting provides general lighting for everyday activities.
• Natural lighting from above makes a home feel open and inviting, while also providing balanced light for reading, cooking and other every day activities.
Natural beauty plus improved air quality
There's no debating the benefits of natural light for boosting mood. Enhance day lighting by lightening up window treatments to allow for as much sunshine as possible. Choose fresh paint colors that play well with the directional lighting and consider installing skylights in rooms where adding windows isn't practical or where more balanced natural light can add drama and differentiate living spaces.
Adding skylights is a relatively low-cost, but high impact home improvement that can be accomplished by a professional in a day or two or over a single weekend. They not only enhance home decor, but deliver energy-saving benefits as well. Fresh air skylights can help reduce dependence on artificial lighting and mechanical ventilation, which saves money on electricity bills.
Skylights can work in concert with vertical windows to provide improved passive ventilation that improves air quality and energy efficiency. For example, Energy Star-qualified fresh air skylights, such as those at veluxusa.com, let you circulate air in your home with flexible features to match your needs.
Manual and electric venting models are available, but top-of-the-line, solar-powered fresh air models offer all the features of modern, no-leak skylights plus significant savings on product and installation costs. They feature a solar panel that charges a hidden internal battery, which operates the control system. These skylights require no wiring, making for easy and cost-effective installation. An integrated rain sensor automatically closes the units in case of inclement weather and all Velux skylights offer three layers of water protection backed by installation and no-leak warranties.
A variety of light-filtering, light-blocking and light-controlling solar powered blinds are also available in a mix of designer colors and patterns to enhance decor while improving skylight energy efficiency by as much as 45 percent. The skylights, as well as the blinds, are operated by a programmable remote control and are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit, as are installation costs.
Some hues absorb more light, making them appear darker and causing the room to look dark as well. Fresh paint brightens any room, but to amplify the effect choose lighter, less intense colors such as pastels, whites and grays. Remember that colors appear truer when they are awash in natural light.
Continue the color upgrade through key decorating elements, such as upholstery fabric, accent rugs, window treatments and wall art. Replace heavy drapes with translucent sheers that admit natural light and give rooms an airy, open feeling.
Upgrading other light sources
While you take steps to maximize the amount of natural light that enters your home, artificial lighting will always be needed, whether at night or for a dreary day. Choose light fixtures - including floor and table lamps - that continue the bright, easy atmosphere you've already created with color and natural light.
Keep in mind the importance of layering light with a mix of sources throughout a room and choose lighting styles that fit the room's purpose. For example, in kitchens where a lot of work gets done, overhead and under-counter lights provide the best illumination for cooking and other chores. In bedrooms, wall sconces and table lamps provide softer, more soothing light.
Don't overlook energy efficiency when you're revamping your artificial lighting. You can boost your home's energy efficiency by replacing old, electricity-guzzling incandescent light bulbs with energy-sipping CFLs and LEDs.
For more ideas on lightening up your home and to view the available types of skylights, blinds and accessories, visit whyskylights.com.
Which skylights are right for your home?
Here are some room-by-room basics for choosing where to add skylights and the types that are best for each space.
With skylights overhead, you can use wall space in your kitchen for more cabinets and shelves without sacrificing natural light. For enhanced ventilation, fresh air skylights let you release warm moist air and clear cooking odors from your home. Light from above also provides balanced kitchen lighting for cooking tasks, such as chopping and peeling.
Bathroom skylights provide the ultimate in natural light and fresh air without compromising privacy. Use the remote to open the skylight when showering to silently whisk away moisture and humidity - with no fan noise or power expense. For smaller, or half, baths where traditional skylights may not fit, Velux Sun Tunnel tubular skylights offer natural light during the day plus a light kit for 24/7 lighting. They are inexpensive and can be installed by an experienced DIYer or professional in a few hours.
Choose solar powered skylights and blinds operated by programmable remote control to adjust both light and ventilation. Open the blinds to reduce electric lighting costs and lower them for diffused lighting when watching television.
Skylights and blinds are a natural choice to provide lighting and ventilation, plus privacy, when you close bedroom drapes but still have light from above. With blackout blinds you can block up to 98 percent of daylight. And after dark, open the blinds for a view of the nighttime sky.
Transform your bonus room or attic conversion area from windowless storage to a home office, family room or children's playroom with the addition of daylight and fresh air. Choose roof windows, which are very similar to skylights but are operated by hand, for spaces where the units will be within arm's reach. In addition to providing daylight and fresh air, many roof windows qualify under building codes as a point of emergency escape and egress, not to mention convenient roof access for gutter cleaning and other maintenance.
Closets, hallways and laundry rooms
If you don't need a view but need natural light, Sun Tunnel tubular skylights are a good choice for these areas. They funnel daylight through a highly reflective tube to spaces below and are particularly useful in smaller, sometimes confined areas including closets, hallways, interior baths and laundry rooms. Low-profile, flat glass models are available that create a sleek, unobtrusive look on rooflines that are readily accepted by homeowner associations and architectural review committees.