This Home Feature Is Scientifically Proven to Make You Happier and Healthier
Research shows that this design element improves your productivity and overall sense of wellbeing.
More than even before, people are looking for ways to lead healthier and happier lives—especially in Colorado, one of the nation’s top 10 healthiest states, according to the 2018 America’s Health Rankings report—and they expect their homes to be part of that mission.
The whole concept of home design is centered around creating an environment you love, but research show that some home design elements make you happier and healthier than others—like, say, that gorgeous velvet sofa, no matter how comfortable and inviting it may be. At the top of the list? Exposure to natural light. We’re willing to bet that you already knew this, deep down, intuitively.
Research shows that increased exposure to light makes people more productive and improves their sense of wellbeing, therefore improving overall wellness. It’s no surprise, then, that homeowners and architects alike are exploring ways to bring more natural light into homes.
To understand the impact of light in a home, it helps to explore the concept of biophilic design. Biophilic design incorporates evolutionary psychology in the design of spaces. We’ve always sought certain elements to feel safe, secure, and in the most optimal emotional state—ingrained in us from the earliest days of living on terrain like meadows and the savanna. Gazing outside inspires a direct connection to the healthy, natural state that people experienced when they spent most of their time outdoors.
“Your mind may not realize it, but your body wants that feeling of getting back to nature,” says Manny Gonzalez, FAIA, LEED AP, principal and board of directors at KTGY, a Los Angeles-based architecture firm. “The feeling of being in nature stays with you, even while inside looking at trees, a garden, or patio.”
The concept of biophilia comes to life when we consider the body’s response to daylight. Daylight affects the health of our circadian rhythms, also known as our internal sleep/wake cycle. Circadian rhythms are primarily regulated by light and darkness in an environment and are recognized by a third type of receptor in our eyes. Pretty cool, right?
The same idea is at work in our homes. The more exposure to the outdoors and light, the better we feel. “All of these things tie into healthy living, the ability to get the sleep that you need,” says Gonzalez, “and the wellness everyone is trying to get.”
What exactly does it mean to design your home around natural light? “Being able to control the lighting, whether it’s the natural light that you have, the UV rays that you get through a window, visibility and window coverings—all those things start tying together when you’re creating the proper environment,” says Gonzalez.
Window styles, configurations, and glazing can all work together to create an upligting, light-filled home. Architects also take siting into account, studying the land’s position and sun exposure and then designing windows to maximize natural light.
Choosing a design style that prioritizes large expanses of glass and unobstructed views can offer the opportunity to design with light as a focal point. Modern homes tend to have more windows and narrower frames, increasing the capacity for incredible views and for light to pass through.
When a home’s design embraces and enhances the benefits of natural sunlight through deliberate choices that strengthen our connection to the outdoors, those much-desired feelings of wellbeing are a natural result.
“If you do a good job as an architect, the resident won’t even know that they’re experiencing biophilic design,” says Gonzalez. “They don’t even think about it—it just feels good.”
Bill Franz is a window and door expert and the Colorado Territory Manager for Marvin. Marvin is inspired by how people live and is driven to imagine and create better ways of living. View their profile or contact them at 1.888.262.4192.
Content for this article provided by Marvin.