'Tis the Season for More Light
When the weather begins to chill, we observe changing leaves and shorter days. The shift is delightful for the most part. However, in many parts of the country there is a very distinct reduction in the amount of natural light available, which has been known to have a powerful effect on some people. The official name for the condition is seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. It is a kind of depression related to the change in seasons, typically starting in the fall; the brain becomes confused when our circadian rhythms, or body clock, are off due to changes in sunlight. More women are diagnosed than men, but men tend to experience more severe symptoms. Young people and people who have blood relatives with SAD or another form of depression are more susceptible. What does this have to do with your home's interior and how you live?
It turns out that adding more artificial light or capturing the most natural light available through use of solar tubes and skylights can improve conditions. Recognized medical treatment for SAD generally includes light therapy along with medications and psychotherapy. Artificial-light therapy is intended to mimic natural daylight. If you are a renter, consider adding torchiere-style floor lamps that bounce strong light off the ceiling. This is only workable when a ceiling is less than about 9 feet high. Torchiere-type of floor lamps are very affordable and effective. Prices range from $20 to $3,000. Target has a model with a main shade and a task light for $20.89, and IKEA has numerous affordable choices. The point is that you can transport these easily into any dark corner of your apartment, house, condo or townhome and improve the light quality instantly.
If your ceilings are taller, you will need to use a different approach in order to properly distribute light: installing more ceiling-mounted light fixtures or recessed light fixtures. A recessed light involves cutting into the ceiling and installing the housing above the ceiling. The help of an electrician or a handy partner or friend may be needed to install a new electrical junction box, run wires and mount the light fixture. The more cost-effective solution is using extra table and floor lamps that direct the light cone downward toward the areas where tasks will be done. Put a little energy into finding a stylish light with some unique design qualities. Light fixtures can add sass and pizzazz to any space, as this modern fixture designed by Soren Ravn Christensen and Anders Klem demonstrates. A light can be a signature piece!
It should be no surprise that skylights were invented in the cold dark Scandinavian country of Denmark, which is trapped in gray for most of the year. Villum Kann Rasmussen sought a way to bring daylight into attic spaces and upper floors of old structures back in 1941. We commonly incorporate skylights into our homes here in the U.S. as a way to introduce light into a bathroom, closet or windowless room. They are also used to flood rooms like kitchens or family rooms with the maximum amount of light. There are manual and electric venting skylight windows.
A more economical alternative to the classic skylight is the solar tube. This is a metal tunnel or tube that passes from the ceiling through the roof. It essentially captures daylight on the roof and delivers it inside the home. On the roof, the tube is capped by a weatherproof plastic globe. The interior of the tube acts like a continuous mirror, channeling light along its entire length while preserving its intensity. The tube's end on the ceiling is a porthole-like diffuser.
Photo Credit: Vita Living