When Philip and Sue Wade bought their detached 1980s house in North Yorkshire, they did so knowing they wanted to make some radical changes.
Top of the list was bringing more natural light into the property. The importance of this was amplified by their impending retirement, which would see them spending more time at home.
Philip says: “We were keen to get the most out of the house and to open up the living space to let in maximum light.”
This involved turning three ground-floor rooms into one and removing two small windows to make way for large sliding triple-glazed doors.
They also took out all the old double pane windows and replaced them with single pane picture windows.
The brick porch, which had one tiny rose window, now has a fully-glazed wall, which brings even more light into the ground floor.
All the windows and the sliding doors are by Danish firm Rationel and were sourced from Buildmer. Rationel products are composite and clad in aluminium facings over timber frames, which extend the life of the product to beyond 60 years and give excellent energy performance.
The aluminium cladding, which comes in a range of colours, helps to protect the frames from weathering and doesn't need any painting.
Along with no maintenance worries, the Wades now have a home filled with natural light, the benefits of which are well known.
Not only is it good for your health and mental well-being, it also cuts down on the need for artificial light, which saves on energy bills
According to Leeds-based Express Bi-folding doors, natural light can also add value to a property and make it more saleable.
Its recent survey reveals that buyers would be happy to pay an extra £4,786 for a light, bright property.
The firm's founder, Steve Bromberg, says: “The greatest benefit of natural light in the home is that it's completely free. Its importance has always been difficult to measure, however our survey clearly highlights that homeowners are willing to pay a premium for it and heavily rely on it to boost their mood and wellbeing.”
If you want expert advice on getting more light into your home, consult a good architect.
They are brilliantly adept at putting windows in the right places and know all about orientation, solar gain and viability.
They are almost certain to come up with something you haven't thought of. The Royal Institute of British Architects has a “Find an architect” section on its website, www.architecture.com
You can also try these ideas.
*Doors: Add French, sliding or bi-fold doors to the room leading onto the garden/yard. Also try swapping solid external and internal doors for glazed or partially glazed ones.
*Add a garden room: You're guaranteed plenty of natural light year-round from a highly-glazed garden room. Just ensure that it will not get too hot in summer and too cold to use in winter. If you want a contemporary glass room, then check out The Caulfield company in Harewood for inspiration. www.caulfieldcompany.co.uk
*Through the roof: Rooflights, such as those by Velux and Velfac, will help bring light into top-floor rooms. If you are in conservation area, you will need permission to install them and may have to use special conservation rooflights. You can also install roof windows in a flat roof extension.
A more impressive and more expensive option for a flat roof would be a glazed lantern. They cost from about £1,200 plus fitting.
*Internal windows: If you have an internal room or gloomy corridor with no windows or very little light consider a small internal window that “borrows” natural light from another room.
*Reflect: Any interior designer will tell you that mirrors are good for reflecting and bouncing round what light there is. Place them opposite a window for full effect. HomeSense and TK Maxx have a good, well-priced selection.
*Glass floors: Made from toughened, structural glass, a small section of glass floor in a light area of the house will illuminate what's below. They are especially useful in helping to bring natural light into basement rooms.
*Glazed walls and panels: If you have an internal room with no windows, replace the dividing wall, or part of it, with glazed panels or sliding glass doors. If privacy is an issue you can use patterned, etched glass or check out window films The Window Film Company, www.windowfilm.co.uk, has a great selection, including designs by Mini Moderns and Yorkshire designer Hannah Nunn.
Sunpipes: These remarkable pipes, also known as sun tunnels, cost about £200 plus fitting. They feature a mirrored tube set in the roof. You can duct this into a room with no windows. The pipe reflects daylight into a diffuser, which looks like a light fitting. The sunpipe will perform better if it is south-facing.