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Harnessing the Power of Sunlight In Your Home

Modern Farmhouse KitchenOne of the best parts about living in the Midwest is experiencing the seasons. Every season brings something special, but through all of them, there is one constant thing that brings me instant joy: sunshine. 

Seeing and experiencing the sun streaming into my home has the power to change my mood, my physical being, my motivation, and even my creativity. 

During the winter months, I experience a negative change in my productivity and overall family dynamic. 

Lack of sunlight is a harsh reality for a large part of the year, but what if there were ways to strategically design your home to attract sunlight and reap all the benefits year-round? 

The design world has tried to mimic natural light through LED lighting for years, and although that is beneficial, it cannot compete with the real deal.  Function is always the most important part of my job, and how our minds and bodies function when in a space is equally as important as how space flows.

The Power of Sunlight

Sunlight produces serotonin, the happy hormone that improves mood. It can alleviate pain and give us energy. Sunlight also produces endorphins, the feel-good hormone. Sunlight is known to boost the immune system because of the power of vitamin D and its crucial role in cell function. Vitamin D from the sun also influences our bones, cardiovascular system, hormones, and brain function. 

I can go on for days about why the sun benefits our bodies, yet Americans spend most of their time indoors. Studies show we spend around 90% of our time inside the four walls at home or work. Not only does this affect our moods, but our circadian rhythm changes when we live and work under artificial light. 

As an interior designer, I would love to help bridge that gap and maximize natural light indoors as much as possible to help combat some common mental and physical problems we see in our modern, busy lives. 

So, how do we bring the outdoors in? 

Natural Light In Your Home

Consider how natural light can be as important as colors or aesthetics if planning a major home renovation. We live in a Pinterest world where we can pin a kitchen we love and hope to recreate it in our homes. 

One of the biggest problems with this is, structurally, every house is different. So many of the Pinterest dream spaces are abundant with natural light that your home may not offer in its current state. 

Working with a designer will help you see if modifying the existing windows or adding some is an option when redesigning your home. Another large factor in making this change is considering the exterior of your home and visually determining how it will look from the outside by changing the glazing. 

When renovating, one of our goals is for the new space to seamlessly flow with the rest of the home, which appears to be in its true form. Sometimes the opportunity presents itself to move a space across the home that better suits the function. 

For instance, moving a kitchen to the back of the house, settling near a row of windows, and flopping the living room to the home’s central area where the kitchen once was. Intentionality when renovating is key to using the space in new ways within the existing structure. 

Maximize Natural Light In Your Home

Bringing natural light into your space doesn’t have to be an expensive project. Playing with light through accessories is an easy and budget-friendly way to add sunlight without breaking down walls or moving around rooms. 

Placing mirrors along hallways and on walls across from windows or doors will allow for the rays to bounce around the home and visually create a brighter and seemingly larger space. 

We even saw disco balls added to high-end homes as décor in the last few years. This wasn’t because people loved throwing dance parties but because the light bounced around their space, instantly creating happiness and playful energy throughout the home. 

Crystals are an easy accessory to add to plants or windows to give the same effect on a smaller scale. 

When considering paint colors, lighter spaces will allow more bounce from the sunlight, and keeping the ceiling white can also help reflect the light. 

When considering window coverings, I love layering and having options for opacity. Blocking out harsh rays while working or doing a task but allowing the glow and warmth from the sunlight can benefit your creativity and productivity at work. 

From experience, I learned that working under cool light without windows was detrimental to my health. I am so grateful for the window over my desk, which welcomes me every morning with sunshine (or at least as much as the Midwest allows). 

Furthermore, if you can open the windows, you will reap the benefits of vitamin D exposure and the fresh air we all need.  It seems like a no-brainer, but we often do not take the time to do this. I encourage you to set up a home office near a patio door or even on the deck; it is a great way to start off your workdays. 

Use Natural Light to Find Joy 

Sitting in my living room in my favorite corner of my home, I am grateful for another Spring and the opportunity to work in the natural light. 

When our 14-year-old dog passed away a few weeks ago, my youngest son asked if we could transform Jack’s corner into a little space where we could remember him. Like most dogs, he had the best spot in the house where the sun blazed most of the day, allowing for a peaceful rest. 

As a designer, I quickly started researching to find a comfortable and stylish chair (of course) that, more importantly, would fit both my kids simultaneously. 

My morning quiet time in this chair has been more healing than anything else. Every morning since, I’ve watched the sun come up over our fence and know Jack is close. 

That is the thing about interior design: it is more than trends; it is more than a pretty space. It is about finding joy and peace in your space, which is personal and unlike anything you find on Pinterest. I hope you find some light today as we dive into the sunniest time of the year.

author avatar
Dawn Interior Designer
Dawn has spent her life surrounded by a creative and artistic family who inspired her decision to pursue interior design at the young age of 16. She is a proud Iowa State Cyclone and remembers her college years pulling all-nighters in the design studio singing at the top of her lungs and drinking too much caffeine. Although her college days are long past, she continues to find much joy in the design process and thrives being surrounded by others who inspire her, such as her SDG work family. She treasures the relationships and friendships formed from working closely with clients and watching them fall in love with their homes all over again.

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