Let There Be Light! Designing Airy Extensions

Posted on: 24 March 2018

Design and build construction firms are often commissioned by homeowners to handle their extension projects. With so many suburban Australian homes having enough room to expand the property into the rear garden, there can be little wonder why this is such a popular method of upgrading a house.

The trouble is that many single-storey extensions in the country are bland in their design without offering many clever design touches. Chief among the problems is the amount of light that is stolen from the current living quarters as the rear windows of a home are moved back further. How do you ensure your clients' needs for more space are met whilst maintaining good light levels?

Lantern Roofs

Instead of designing a conventional roof line off the back of the property you will be extending, consider the merits of a lantern roof. With glazing panels that are set at an incline from a central apex, lantern roofs flood the area below with light. Tinted ones, or those that are fitted with blinds, ensure the space beneath does not overheat in the summer sun. Such roofs make for a great open plan zone below which is suited to kitchen diners and family rooms. Because so much light enters the extension, the adjacent rooms, which would have otherwise appeared darker, are left with a light and airy feel.


If a lantern roof pushes the budget too far, then a cost-effective alternative is to install skylight windows instead. Bear in mind that these can be installed into the extension as it goes up as well as being retrofitted into the existing rooms next to it. This way, both areas will receive plenty of natural daylight. Skylight window manufacturers tend to make their products in double and triple-glazed versions nowadays, which makes heat losses in winter negligible. Their frames can be made of architecturally pleasing materials, like aluminium, which help to ensure they are secure and look good at all times, too.

Light Pipes

If installing a skylight into the room that is next to downstairs extension is not possible, perhaps because there is already another room above it on the second floor, then consider how light pipes might help. Highly polished light pipes can transfer sunlight from the roof right down to the ground level of a home and even help to 'push' it around corners. All you need to do is to install some ducting to fit a light pipe, which is no more invasive in a home than an air-conditioning system.