Small Skylights Add Comfort and Light Where You Need It
The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year for those in the Northern Hemisphere. Daylight hours will slowly begin to lengthen from this time forward, but you may yearn for more sunlight in your spaces before spring and summer arrive. Small skylights, like TDDs (tubular daylighting devices), can brighten those rooms that seem dim, especially this time of year. They can easily be placed between sections of the structural framework of most wood-framed houses. Walk around your home and consider where a small skylight would help you see better and bear the winter months more easily.
- Foyer. Foyers are frequently designed without windows or glass doors for security reasons or simply because of the style of architecture. These spaces can easily benefit from a good source of daylight, since they are often focal points. Having them well lit also makes a better first impression for visitors. The extra daylight also comes in handy when you need to see which coat to put on or umbrella to pick up. Options for any space. While skylights come in configurations that you would expect, such as an opening in the ceiling with a vault to the sky or as a lens to the shaft of a TDD, you can also have a fixture like the one below installed along with a new skylight. The design mimics a typical shade and will give an illusion of a conventional light source. Some even have lights integrated into the shade and skylight structure to use when the sun goes down.
- Interior foyer. Some rooms are designed with a vestibule or foyer that acts as a transition into the larger space. Since these spaces are often enclosed and closer to the center of the house, they can be dark. Just like in the entrance foyer, small skylights can add visual space to these areas. Skylights here also give these transition points emphasis, which highlights their importance. However, be wary of placing small skylights in bedrooms. Most people need very dark rooms for sleep. A full moon reflecting through the tube of a skylight can keep you awake.
- Hallway. Hallways often end up on the darker side, especially in ranch-style and other single-story houses that are long and low. Placing a single small skylight at the end or center of a hallway can make a significant difference and even help a narrow space feel wider. Most people center one in the ceiling, which is fine. Placing it closer to a wall may allow the light to wash over that surface and reflect out into the space. These walls should be light colored to help the light reflect.
- Closet. Having skylights in closets is an individual decision. While natural daylight aids in discerning color, it can fade clothing, belts and handbags. If you decide to place a skylight in this space, be sure to install a type that diffuses the light. Avoid clear skylights, which allow direct rays of sun to wash over garments.
- Powder room. Powder rooms or small bathrooms tend to be windowless and located toward the center of newer houses. As with the previous smaller spaces, the skylight can keep you from having to use light fixtures during the day and can make the space feel larger. You don’t have to place the skylight in the center of the ceiling. Placing it closer to the wall can direct the light to wash over tile, stone or wallpaper and add a dramatic effect.
- Bathroom. Larger bathrooms don’t always mean larger windows. If this is the case in your house, consider strategically placing skylights to brighten and liven up the space. Position skylights so they don’t cast a shadow on you as you look into a mirror, as has been done in this example. Or place them so they highlight an element of the room, such as a large tub. Resist the temptation to place too many skylights in a single space. Sunlight, even filtered, is harsh on finishes, clothes and linens.
- Shower. Though this falls under the bathroom category, showers deserve their own mention. Too many of us have had the unpleasant experience of dimly lit bathing spaces. It’s important to see well in showers to avoid slips and to help us shave well, and a skylight can help supply our daily dose of natural light.
- Laundry room. Laundry rooms are excellent candidates for small skylights. Since they often occupy closets or small rooms, natural light is frequently ignored. Having better illumination will help you keep track of those socks that magically disappear. Sorting the laundry will be an easier chore. Even if your laundry has a small window, the balance of an added light source can lessen glare and ensure that the room is lit evenly by daylight.
- Dining room. Usually dining rooms have plenty of natural light, and adding more won’t be necessary, but a unique solution is shown here. Skylights integrated into a light fixture place the natural light in just the right spot. As in any of these rooms, you will have to have a clear route to the open sky. Many TDD products have long and circuitous tubes to work around obstacles, but second floors may eliminate the option for some.
- Kitchen. Kitchens may lack adequate daylight because of walls of cabinets and appliances. Even if you have one large window in your kitchen, a secondary source of natural light can help balance it and reduce glare. As with other spaces, place skylights so that some of the daylight washes over or reflects off vertical surfaces. A single skylight placed in the center of an expansive ceiling creates glare and reduces the benefit of the skylight.