One can never overemphasise the significance of the suns rays in lighting up our homes.
The sun can also light up our lives, which is why many architects and interior designers have focused on getting in maximum possible sunshine into our interior spaces.
Even in hot and humid environs, living in a well-lit home is incomparable — simply because we naturally want to be in continuity with the outside world. While the rays warm our bodies, the sight of the sun warms our souls.
Sunlight tends to show colours as they actually are and also make them appear more intense and complete.
Unlike artificial lighting with bulbs and lamps, natural light is normally less harsh and does not create sudden glare.
We see much better in natural rather than artificial light.
In the interest of aesthetics, sun-blessed windows can be focal points in an interior space. A window, fitted with art glass, and sheathed in decorative metal grille work, can shape sunrays to create spectacular forms and light-and-shadow patterns inside the house.
The passage of the sun through the course of the day can create a vignette of settings and moods that range from strong and stimulating to serene and subdued.
Sunlight has great health benefits. We all know that the ultraviolet rays in sunlight are excellent disinfectants against common household germs, while sunlight itself can work against mineral-deficiency and bone-related disorders.
Sunlight is also known to elevate moods and alleviate depression as well as other nerve disorders.
And, of course, bringing in sunlight into the home can drastically reduce electricity bills.
There can be nothing better than having a house/apartment with rooms oriented to the path of the sun. Imagine waking up every morning under the light from an east-facing window; carrying on with the days work in optimal south light; and finally unwinding in the evenings in subdued north light!
Windows & doors
Technological advancements in building materials and design systems have made it possible to make windows that are larger, sturdier and energy-efficient.
Todays architects are increasingly sensitised to this, which is why most modern homes have large window facades — the typical high window sills at 36 inches above the floor are fast being replaced with those at 12 inches above the floor. This ensures a 30-40 per cent increase in daylight, and also maximises healthy indoor-outdoor visual relationship.
Also to be noted is that these large windows lend the added bonus of fresh air and well-ventilated interiors.
Draw in the sun
The best sun-seeking idea is to enlarge your windows, but this may not be permissible in an existing apartment building for reasons of aesthetic synergy. So, take the approval of your building association and also consult a registered civil engineer.
Well-placed mirrors in rooms can effectively draw in sunlight. A dark corner in a dark-painted room can come to life with a couple of small mirrors, angled to pick and reflect sunrays. You could add another plus by making the mirror reflect the view of the garden or the pond outside.
A word of caution: be wary of creating any disturbing glare.
If privacy isnt an issue, you could drape the windows with translucent curtains.
Else, its best to go for Venetian blinds — their slats can be tilted to a suitable angle to allow sunrays to come in while providing privacy.
Choose colours carefully. A poorly lit north-facing room can never take on the additional burden of dark walls. In fact, even the bright pinks and yellows can be disturbing here. Needless to say, whites, off-whites and creams — all of which reflect, and hence enhance, light — can bring life into these spaces. Sunlit east-facing rooms, though, could do with some duller and darker hues.
All woodwork and soft furnishings (such as bedspreads, cushions and rugs) have their own colours, and hence could add or reduce the natural light levels in a room. Choose their hues after taking into account the sun orientation of the room.
Furniture arrangement should take advantage of the available sunlight. Long-span-use pieces like the living room sofa, reclining chair, a childs study table and the kitchen chopping centre are best located near a window.
In rooms meant for the infirm or the aged, place the bed in such a way that it receives maximum possible sunlight. They badly need the biological and psychological benefits of the sun.
Attaching castors (wheels) to some units can help. A kinetic easy chair used in the evenings for watching TV can be effortlessly rolled to the window nook for a lazy Sunday afternoon book-reading session.
(The author is an interior design consultant, specialising in the design of corporate and residential interiors. As a senior faculty member at a Calcutta institute, she has delivered lectures, guided research and conducted projects in the field of Housing & Interior Design for over two decades. She can be contacted at email@example.com )