Ask people what they want from a house and the words ‘airy’ and ‘light-filled’ will inevitably crop up. But this isn’t easy to achieve in the UK, where space is tight and houses often closely packed. Yet there are ways to bring light to even the dimmest of properties. Often it just takes a little imagination.
‘We did one house that only had windows at the front,’ says Alan Waxman, managing director at London property developer Landmass. ‘It was a rectangular mews house that was enclosed on three sides. So we took out a 4m x 4m corner of the property and put a retractable glass roof on the top. Below it we had a bespoke, copper-and-limestone waterfall that went down three stories. That introduced a lot of light to the house.’
Naturally, not everyone’s budget extends to bespoke, three-storey water features (‘No one had ever done this in a house in London,’ says Waxman.) There are, however, more straightforward approaches to the problem.
‘We also used one single paint colour for the whole house,’ he says, adding, ‘It’s not just about creating the maximum light, but also making the most of that light. The reason we use a single paint colour is to give that illusion of space and light.’ This, admittedly, requires a certain level of care. ‘Steve Jobs looked at 32 shades of white for Apple, and those are the kind of lengths we go to, too.’
But if you want to bring light to a house, adding windows and skylights will, of course, help. ‘We did something unique on our last property,’ says Waxman. ‘Next to the front door we added a clear glass panel, which lets in a lot of light. Most people wouldn’t want that because of the privacy issues, but you’re only looking into a hallway and it allows you to enjoy the views out. And it’s bandit-proof, so you still have the security.’
But there’s more to creating light than simply chucking in vast panes of glass. ‘If you have glass built into the wall it can look very cold,’ says Waxman. ‘We’ve had ours framed in walnut, so you get that contrast between the warmth and the coldness that exercises the imagination. A super-contemporary glass wall can look very cold. By framing it in walnut, it sets it off and becomes a decorative piece.’
If you’re renovating a house from scratch, Waxman has some more general advice. ‘The higher the ceilings, the fewer the rooms and the more glass you can introduce, the better it is when it comes to creating light,’ he says.
Indeed, he sums it up in three steps, which are:
1) Maximise the use of the internal space.
2) See internally which walls you can use glass for – either complete floor-to-ceiling, or inserts within. Often this is tricky for a bedroom, say, but easy for a kitchen or living room.
3) See if there are ways to increase the exterior windows and add roof lights.
‘It’s a logical sequence,’ says Waxman. ‘There’s no point in playing with the exterior until you know what you’re doing with the inside.’
But, inevitably, there are limitations, and not just when it comes to budget. ‘When you’re doing a refurbishment, you’re constrained by the existing structure,’ he says. ‘It’s not one size fits all. You have to look at each property from a fresh point of view.
And, as with most things in life, there’s always a downside. ‘Everything’s a compromise,’ he says. ‘On the one hand you can have a glass box and no privacy, or lots of privacy and little light. You have to decide what your priorities are.’
Original Article from http://www.theartofbespoke.com/inspiration/into-the-light/
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