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Choosing skylights for our vaulted roof extension – The things we’ve learnt

We have recently completed work on our kitchen extension.

Choosing skylights for the vaulted ceiling was one of many important decisions we had to make in a short space of time, and a decision that wasn’t as simple as it first seemed due to the choice of skylights on the market.

At the start of this process, we were complete skylight novices, with no knowledge of what would work best in our space. Here are a few things we learnt during the decision-making process:

Keep the size and amount proportionate to the space

Originally, we were going to have two roof lights rather than three, because with bifold doors and a large window already, we didn’t NEED that much extra light. But on the plans, two narrow skylights looked dwarfed by the surrounding white space in a 6.5 metre wide area. Installing three skylights has made for a much more balanced look to the room.

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Consider the sun’s position in relation to your house when choosing roof light sizing

If the sun moves from the left/right over your house (or vice versa) throughout the course of the day, you might want to go for wider skylights to allow light to reach into the corners of your room. The sun moves from the back to the front in our south facing house, so we went for taller skylights to help the light reach the back of our 7 metre long room.

Where to place the skylights in your roof?

An even, symmetrical placement will always look good. Position your skylights lower on your roof rather than higher to ensure that light reaches as far as possible into the back of the room.

Do you need roof blinds?

Our south-facing aspect means we get a lot of direct sun into our extension, which is lovely for most of the day, but there are a few ‘hotspots’ with quite harsh, direct light for a couple of hours each day. My advice is to live in the space first before making any decisions (we realised it didn’t bother us too much), but if you decide the light is too harsh at times later down the track, VELUX blinds do a varied selection of roof blinds to suit any room.

Use your walls to reflect light from your roof lights back into the room

This was an idea we first saw on a house renovation program called The 100k House. We had our builder create a plasterboard wall that meets our vaulted roof at a V shaped angle. Originally, the vertical wall met the vaulted roof at a sharp triangular angle, meaning a fair bit of light was ‘lost’ at the top of this angle. But with our angled stud wall, the light from our skylights hit the slant and all that lovely light is reflected back into the dining area of our extension, increasing the natural light even further.

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In photographer terms, this section of the room gives me a natural key light, side light, top light and reflector. Increasing the natural light in this way means I can get lovely, evenly lit photos like this in a second:

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To go high tech or not?

This was the factor we deliberated over most when choosing our skylights. There are a wide variety of makes and materials to suit all budgets, with high end models that can be operated from a phone app, and close automatically when it starts raining.

We really wanted to have skylights that could be closed at the touch of a button (I was thinking about those times when I have to leave for the school run in zero-minus-three-seconds, or the one inevitable day that I forget to close the skylights and it rains).

But at this stage in our building process, we were conscious to leave some budget for unforeseen factors. So, we opted for standard manual opening skylights at around one third of the cost of the fancy electric ones. As I predicted, I rarely open our manual skylights, as it is a bit of extra faff and time that I don’t usually have – if you are planning for your forever home, I would seriously consider opting for remote control operated skylights.

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Thank you to VELUX for partnering with Sorry About The Mess

Sorry About The Mess is a personal lifestyle and family blog. documenting the life of London blogger and photographer, Chloe. This is our family story.

Comments (2)

  • This post was so helpful! With our extension starting next week this is one of the things we’re trying to plan – and we’re having 5 skylights in a row evenly spaced across the roof. I love your light fittings! x

    Reply
    • Sounds like it’s going to be great, Donna, I can’t wait to see!

      Reply

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