How to get more sunlight into your home

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As summer approaches, many people are trying to plan ways to get the most of that seasonal sunshine. While it's nice to get outside and soak in the rays, having a house that doesn't let in a lot of natural light can take away some of the joy of having longer hours of daylight.

For homeowners who find that the sun just doesn't hit their home at the right angles, some renovation projects could be the solution to brightening up their homes this year. Whether they want to remodel existing rooms or they're in the mood to build a sunroom addition, here are some tips for letting the light shine:

Know where the light is 
If a house was built without sunlight in mind, some rooms may have windows in the wrong angles for getting the light in. Before adding more openings to encourage sun to filter in, it's important for remodelers to know where they need to place them. It would be disappointing to sink the time, money and effort into adding windows to the home only to realize they don't face the right direction.

Start by examining the outside of the house on a sunny day and see which sides get the most direct rays. How much sun a home gets and when will depend largely on where its located. Homes in more northern parts of the country will see sun at different angels and for different lengths of time than those in the South. Generally, however, homeowners can expect that windows on the east will have ample morning sun and evening shade, while western windows will be darker in the mornings and brighter in the afternoon.

"A drastically different window can add a lot of style."

Adding windows
If homeowners find themselves opening all of the blinds in their home only to still be standing in shadows, adding more windows could be the solution they need. As a home ages, the wood around frames shifts and shrinks and weathering can warp the spaces around windows that make them drafty or prone to leaks. For budgets that allow it, this could be a great time to update all the windows in an old house to more energy-efficient or stylish options to increase the value of the home as well. 

Trying to just add one or two standard windows can be present a challenge. It may be hard to find new frames that match the existing ones exactly, and just randomly inserting a different window onto a home can look peculiar and out of place. For homeowners who want to only make changes to one room it'd be best to not try to make it match unless the remodelers are certain they are using the same product.

Instead of trying to closely match two similar windows and hoping they don't come out mismatched, it's often better to take the opposite approach. A drastically different window can add a lot of style to a room. Because it's obvious that it's supposed to be different, it can add to an existing look more cohesively than a window that looks like it's supposed to match, but doesn't.

One of the most popular choices for remodelers in this arena is the bay window. Unlike traditional windows that are built to lay flat in a wall, bay windows extend outward, sticking out of the home's exterior. Not only do these large windows offer more light and a new style to a room, they can create more internal space as well. Bay windows often have a bench installed for storage or a new seating area that acts as a small extension of a room.

For homeowners who want to go big without extending out, a picture window could be the best choice. These are large, single pane windows that are built to allow more light in and increase the views to the outside. 

Bay windows expand outside of the home's exterior.
Bay windows expand outside of the home's exterior.

Building a sunroom
A much larger project that homeowners can opt for is to build a sunroom on to the home. These small room additions are usually made almost entirely out of windows and can greatly improve the atmosphere of a home. Function-wise, they're usually used as a sort of secondary living room.

There are many questions that homeowners should consider before they begin their new sunroom, such as:

  • Will this room have heating and cooling systems? Most traditional sunrooms omit central air and heating. They are built to take in and retain as much sun-directed heat as possible. As long as the room is well-insulated, it will typically stay warm on sunny days even in the winter. It's certainly possible to include HVAC in a sunroom to ensure anytime use all year long, however. These are more commonly called "four-season rooms."
  • What material will be used to build it? While a sunroom could potentially be made of any home-construction material, the two most common types are wood, aluminum or vinyl. Which to choose will depend on a homeowner's budget and the level of maintenance the remodeler is willing to provide in the years to come. 
  • What kind of windows will be used? Both style and function will play an important role in the decisions here. Homeowners should find a look that works for their tastes and doesn't seem out of place with the rest of the home. They also need to consider if they want windows that open, or stay stationary. If the windows will open, will they slide, or hinge? Will windows open in, or out, slide up, or sideways? For the most part, there are no wrong answers here. It depends on what the renovator's functional and fashionable intentions are for the room.

Whatever a homeowner decides to do is a matter of the remodeler's budget and personal style. When undergoing any kind of home renovation project, it's important to stick to the budget and find a design that works well with the rest of the home.

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