The benefit of natural light in the home is multifaceted. Many homeowners will choose natural lighting because it is aesthetically pleasing, but there are other reasons why natural light is a better option than the artificial alternative.
Natural light can save energy, especially when used with light-sensing controls for artificial light sources. In eco-friendly designs, natural lighting can decrease energy consumption by more than half. Natural light has also been proven effective at increasing productivity in office workers. A combination of natural and artificial light can decrease the chance of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as well. Natural light helps to maintain circadian rhythms, which promote regular sleep and decrease stress.
The kitchen is a fantastic place to incorporate natural light design, because the benefits of natural light in the home can lead to healthier choices in the kitchen. A kitchen that is open, well lit, warm, and inviting is much more likely to encourage using the space for its intended purpose, rather than as a counter for fast food.
Natural light in the kitchen also allows for the layering of light sources. A mixture of lighting will change the atmosphere the kitchen provides throughout the day, making the space feel dynamic and inviting.
Skylights, windows, and windowed doors all provide natural sources of light to enhance a kitchen space. If cabinetry and counter space prove to be obstacles, windows in adjacent dining and living rooms can also provide natural light. Conservatory windows in the space above cabinets or lining the top of a wall are a good choice for kitchens that may not have room for full windows. Solar tubes reflect roof light, and these can also be a good option. With solar tubes, light comes through the reflective tube and provides natural brightness in home that may have rooms above the kitchen, preventing an atrium or skylight.
Changing curtains also brighten kitchen space. Choosing alternative window treatments can enhance the natural light that is allowed into a room and brighten the atmosphere. For cabinetry in between living spaces, consider installing glass on either side to allow light to flow. Doing so will open the space and brighten it without installing new windows in the kitchen.
When considering adding natural lighting to a kitchen in an existing home or incorporating it into a new home, think through the direction of the sun in comparison with the windows. If you know you will be using the kitchen at a certain time of day and too much or not enough light will enter the space because of the house’s orientation, choosing a different way to incorporate windows may be a better fit.
South facing kitchens are ideal for energy saving and natural light renovations. North facing kitchens may feel colder on the whole, and the light coming in will be indirect for most of the day. For east and west oriented kitchens, light will be brighter and more intense either in the morning or evening. Regardless, natural lighting is always a positive and value-adding addition to any home.