April 24, 2013

How to Improve Natural Light in Narrow Properties

Written by Rebecca Clayton

How to Improve Natural Light in Narrow Properties

Using Architectural Glazing to Maximise Natural Light

In locations such as central London, many of the high-end residential homes are narrow, terraced properties. Introducing natural light in narrow properties can be difficult, however, there are many ways this can be achieved.  

The architecture and layout of the home play a key role in this, as the light needs to be able to flow freely through the home, so open plan layouts are ideal for these narrow homes.  

double height pivot door and vertical sash window in luxury London home

Light colours and reflective surfaces in the interior design with an open plan layout are all ways to help living spaces in narrow properties feel brighter, but in terms of introducing more natural light, glazing is the most effective way to do so.  

Natural light has been proven to have both mental and physical benefits for a home's occupants, from helping to improve sleep to boosting productivity and reducing stress. Utilising specialist glazing systems to maximise natural light in narrow properties can also help to reduce a home's energy usage and CO2 emissions.

Artificial light just doesn’t have the same effect, even those lamps you may see advertised that claim to mimic natural light and boost your mood. The best way to introduce more natural light in narrow properties is through the strategic use of architectural glazing.  


automated sliding box rooflight in narrow property

Roof Glazing in Narrow Properties  

When it comes to roof glazing solutions, IQ have an expansive range of systems that can be tailored to meet the needs of any project. From thermally broken fixed rooflights to structural glass roofs to our family of automated rooflight systems, IQ have the right solution for you. 

Highly glazed extension designs have grown massively in popularity over the years, and our Britten Street Project is an excellent example of this. The refurbishment of this narrow property included a sliding box rooflight with up and over glazing.  

The interior design of this new space follows a modern design and the bespoke glazing package also includes floorlights and slim sliding windows. The choice of light colours for the internal building finishes means that when natural light enters the narrow home, it reflects off the surfaces, helping to space to appear bigger and brighter.  


internal glass floor in narrow London townhouse to maximise natural light

Glass Floors for Narrow Homes 

Internal glass floors are an excellent way to maximise the flow of natural light in narrow properties.  

Our Britten Street project in Chelsea, London, saw the full demolition of previous additions to the home and a reorganisation of the ground and basement floor layouts. The brief included turning the previous rear extension, which was dark and spoiled by over-bearing adjacent buildings, into a bright and airy living space.  

With various glazing systems, the home is now flooded with natural light, enabling the interior design to shine. This includes large glass floors installed on the ground floor, allowing the basement area to benefit from light flooding through the structural glass. 


Slim Framed Glazing Solutions 

IQ work on a full range of projects from full glazing to large contemporary homes, to refurbs like our Netherford Road project. The narrow property wanted to make the most of the natural daylight available in the space by using slim framed glazing solutions. 

slim steel framed glazing used to improve natural light in a narrow London homeSlim framed steel glazing systems were chosen to achieve a more traditional look with the glazing, whilst creating a thermally insulated environment thanks to the thermally broken profiles.

Both fixed and opening elements with ultra-slim framing profiles were utilised to flood the interior design with natural light.

The direct access to the garden creates a strong bond between the inside and outside environments, which is only enhanced by the frame finish, a muted green tone (RAL 7009).


Lightwells and Sunken Courtyards for Narrow Properties 

Narrow homes in city centres often utilise basement spaces more as where they can extend outwards is limited, however, introducing natural light in narrow properties like this can be difficult. internal glass lightwell in basement with structural glazing

One way to achieve this is through the use of sunken courtyards or lightwells. This allows the light to filter down and enter the space with little to no obstruction. Incorporating opening glass elements into the design also helps with ventilation for the space. 

IQ’s Cheyne Row project in London used a combination of structural glazing and a pocket door to create a bright basement space.

The clever architectural glazing design for this double height lightwell integrates a slim frame sliding glass door in a pocket door configuration into the glass structure at the basement level. This sliding glass door opens neatly away from the corner sliding into a wall cavity creating access to the small courtyard area. 

sunken courtyard with steel pivot doors

Gibson Square, another project that utilised IQ’s bespoke glazing solutions, introduced a sunken courtyard in the rear garden of the home. As well as bringing light into the basement, our thermally broken steel pivot doors were specified to provide access to the small sunken courtyard. 


Oversized Glazing for Narrow Properties  

Oversized glazing such as large frameless picture windows or double height sliding doors ensures that natural light in narrow properties is maximised.

double height sliding doors in London townhouse

Slim framed and frameless solutions don’t obstruct the flow of light and as an added benefit allows for expansive views out of the home.  

Portland Road in Notting Hill, London is filled with terrace townhouses that are under strict limitations when it comes to renovations and refurbishments, as this area is rich in history and character which has resulted in this site being classified as a Conservation Area. 

One project IQ worked on along this road utilised oversized glazing in the form of a double height, triple glazed sliding door that reach 6m tall. The project also combined several other glazing solutions mentioned in this article to maximise natural light within the narrow property.  

Internal glass balustrades create a protective barrier around the stairs that don’t obstruct the flow of natural light, a glass floorlight allows natural light to flow between different floors of the home. 

internal glass floor and glass balustrades in narrow London townhouse

The basement of this luxury London townhouse also includes a lightwell surrounded by slim framed sliding doors from minimal windows, introducing natural light into the below ground floor level.  

At the top of the home, a M.A.R.S automated sliding rooflight is used to grant access to the rooftop whilst also allowing the light to enter from above. This automated sliding rooflight is ideal for improving ventilation and natural light in narrow properties.


Glass Box Extensions to Narrow Properties   

Extending the rear of the home is a fantastic way to create a new usable living space that is filled with natural light in narrow properties and has a strong connection to nature. Glass box extensions are extremely flexible in design, with the option to use frameless structural glazing or slim framed aluminium or steel. A range of doors including bifold, sliding and pivot doors can be incorporated into the design as well as a wide range of glazing solutions.  

steel framed glass box extension improve natural light in narrow home

A project IQ worked on in Chelsea where a steel framed glass box extension was specified for the rear of the London townhouse to create a space where the homeowners could relax. The slim steel profiles give the space an indoor-outdoor feeling whilst helping to maximise natural light within the narrow home. 

For the roof of the new steel glass box extension, a frameless rooflight was chosen to allow the most natural light into the space possible. To maintain the art deco style and match the rest of the glass box, steel beams were used in conjunction with the glass rooflight, which was split into 4 panes with structural silicone joins. 


Side Infill Extensions to Narrow Properties   

Many of these narrow homes have passageways to the side of the home’s rear. This space often goes unused, but by extending out with a side infill extension the space can be used to introduce more natural light in narrow properties.  

side infill extension to London home with structural glazingA stunning example of this is our Chandos Road project, where structural glazing and a slim framed aluminium casement door were utilised to create a new light-filled space along the side of this narrow property in London. 

The long, narrow design of the home means the glass box extension can be seen throughout the kitchen and living rooms, with free-flowing natural light creating light-filled spaces thanks to the slim design of the steel systems. 


Internal Glazing in Narrow Homes 

Once the natural light has been brought into the property, by incorporating internal glazing into your bespoke glazing package, the light will be able to flow through the home and reach areas such as hallways and middle rooms which can often be left dark and dull.  slim framed internal glass door

IQ have a wide range of internal glazing solutions including slim aluminium and steel framed solutions. Whether you’re looking for a steel internal casement door or an aluminium internal pivot door, minimal framing and maximum glass are a must.  

If privacy is a concern, glazing solutions such as sandblasted glass can be incorporated into the internal glazing, as this still allows for light transmission whilst blocking views.  


For more information on how glazing can be utilised to maximise natural light in narrow properties, contact the IQ team today.