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We are drawn to places in our homes that are bathed in natural light. We don’t even think about it. But whether we’re having friends over or simply curling up with a good book, chances are we can be found in sunny spaces.

 

So we ask for more windows in our homes, to create those “light, bright and airy” spaces. And therein begins the tradeoffs. Adding windows adds cost. No matter how advanced, windows are nowhere near as energy efficient as walls. Window placement may dictate furniture arrangements and even our landscaping plans. Then to top it all off, we spend more money covering up those windows for privacy.

 

Looking Up

 

A sometimes overlooked solution— skylights—can often be the perfect answer. Not the old fashioned, big plastic “bubbles” seen on homes built decades ago. Just as we’ve come to take for granted no-iron fabrics and keyless entry fobs for our cars, advancements in skylight technology make today’s skylights as pleasurable and hassle free as we could ask for.

 

And ask we did. Fortunately, someone was listening. In the midst of the housing “ depression” VELUX (VELUXUSA.com), the global leader in skylight manufacturing, conducted focus group research with three audiences—architects, builders and women. Her Home Magazine recently interviewed Tim Miller, President of VELUX America,who shared some of the insights gained and how VELUX responded.

 

 

According to Miller, “Women told us they wanted skylights, but also wanted them to be“ invisible”. So VELUX redesigned our entire product line, changing the color of the skylights to blend in with the most popular roofing colors. We reduced the profile (height of the skylights) to make them less obvious and reduce shadows. We also reduced the visibility of the metal surround.“ Inside, women said they wanted the skylights to blend with their ceilings. Previously, VELUX skylights’ featured a natural wood finish on the inside. But most ceilings are white, so now our skylights are finished white on the inside. Previously our bug screens were gray, now they blend in. The admittedly unsightly brown motors were redesigned and now look like drywall. We even redesigned the openers so that they’re narrower and also much quieter.”


VELUX identified women as the primary decision-makers when it came to home building and renovation projects. And when it came to increasing aylight and improving ventilation of the home, women focused most often on certain areas.


“Daylight in her bathroom,” said Miller“has a major effect on the color rendition of her makeup. Electric lighting produces various color hues, many of which are not complimentary of skin tones. Then there are privacy concerns. A big window over the bathtub can usher in sunlight, but will be immediately covered over with window fashions for privacy. Rarely are the window fashions opened, efeating the purpose of installing the big window in the first place. And often there’s the hassle of having to step into the tub just to adjust the window coverings.”


Kitchens and entertaining areas are also common places for skylight use. As in bath areas, both the practical and aesthetic sides of design are important. On the practical side, because skylights are oriented toward the sky they deliver three times as much daylight as would an identical size vertical window. Equally important is the unmatched drama afforded by skylights. VELUX research found that skylights were about self-expression and creating a WOW factor. And typically, women said they were more interested than their male counterparts in the look, feel and personality of their homes.“ She’s more focused on the design touch, said Miller.

 


In some areas such as laundry rooms, skylights may be your only option for daylight.
In some areas such as laundry rooms, skylights may
be your only option for daylight.

The Ross Lovesgrove Sun Tunnel
The Ross Lovesgrove Sun Tunnel

 


Many other areas in the home can benefit from natural light but are not conducive to traditional skylight installation. Walk-in closets, mudrooms and interior hallways and bathrooms are well suited to the VELUX SUN TUNNEL™ skylight, a small tubular skylight which provides illumination equivalent to a 60-watt light bulb on a cloudy winter day and up to four 100-watt light bulbs on a sunny day. The SUN TUNNEL skylights were also redesigned—based on women’s feedback—with both a low profile and a nearly imperceptible TLR flat glass panel model. Inside, the standard finish looks like a recessed can light. Additionally, to appeal to women’s design sense, VELUX teamed up with designer Ross Lovegrove to introduce a decorative ceiling fixture that’s visually striking and helps diffuse the light coming through the SUN TUNNEL™ skylight.

 

Her Home asked Miller what women who purchased skylights wish they had known or considered prior to their purchase. He responded “Eighty percent of women said ‘I don’t just want natural light, I want to control it. Sometimes I want all the light I can have; at other times I only want a partial amount. Diffused light would be ideal for certain occasions and there are also times I want to block out the skylight completely.’ So, VELUX created a full assortment of blind options and remote controls to address each of those scenarios. While some women liked the high-tech skylight remote controls, others asked for something easy to use, so we also developed a simple Up-Stop-Down remote opener.”

 

Whether you’re looking to add style and personality to a space or brighten up a room using the least amount of glass and energy, skylights add livability to your home. And they are not just a decision to be made when building a home, adding skylights are an enviable remodeling project. Want to liven up your kitchen? Cherry or birch cabinets would provide a nice change from oak, and stone countertops are “in”, but adding a couple of skylights could totally transform your kitchen. Or perhaps you just want to replace those dated, plastic bubbles that are admittedly an eyesore.

 

 

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Updated: Saturday, March 29, 2014 1:18 PM

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