Nothing quite beats the effortless beauty of natural light streaming into a room. As humans, we are instinctively drawn to it.
But what if yours is a deep, narrow house where it feels nigh-on impossible to draw light into the centre of your home? It’s a common challenge, particularly in terraced properties or large homes that are more than 8 – 9 metres deep. Natural light typically only penetrates around seven metres into a room, so anything longer can result in the middle of the house feeling a bit too dark and gloomy.
Victorian houses are often narrow properties, built in terraces, with neighbours either side and kitchen extensions added at the rear, making it tricky for natural light to travel from end to end. This was exactly the challenge we faced with a recent townhouse project in Fowey. One of the first aspects we addressed was how we could open the long deep house right up and bring in much-needed natural light, without detracting from the glorious proportions and architectural detailing of the property.
We began by assessing the downstairs layout where adjacent doors led from the hallway to the open- plan living and dining room. Keeping the door to the sitting room in place, we opened up the dining room doorway to make way for a large Crittall screen so that natural light could flood in from the hallway to the dining area. If you’re thinking of doing something similar, be sure to check any fire regulations as, as in this case, the staircase had to be a ‘protected’ one under Building Regulations, so fire-rated glass was required.
As the hallway brings light into the ground floor, we specified a new front door, with bespoke stained glass panels (made locally in Cornwall) to achieve the desired light without compromising on privacy. Facing east, morning light pours in creating the prettiest coloured light play on the tiled hallway floor.
Upstairs, there was an old sunroom that had been added at the back by the previous owners, leading directly out onto a steeply sloping garden. Accessed via a narrow doorway, the room felt like an afterthought, completely disconnected from the rest of the house. We worked with structural engineers to re-design the area, allowing us to remove a sizeable section of wall on the landing. In the generous new opening, a pair of glazed double doors were installed opening into a brand new orangery, that feels completely connected with the rest of the house.
The stairs and landings are now bathed in natural light from the orangery all day long, with a beautiful sight line all the way down the staircase to the hall and back to the very beginning – the beautiful stained glass front door.