Designing with Daylight: The Key to a Functional Space

Here’s how natural light can bring vitality into your commercial space.

Natural light has long been recognized as a vital element for productivity, well-being, and overall satisfaction. It not only enhances the appeal of a common room or living space, but also has a profound impact on tenant happiness (and by extension, the length of their occupancy).

Despite these benefits, incorporating natural light in commercial spaces is often easier said than done. From design challenges to practical considerations, businesses are stymied when it comes to letting sunlight penetrate their walls.

That’s why more building owners are making concerted efforts to bring this force of nature back into their communities and foster a more vibrant environment for their tenants.

In this article, we’ll explore:

The Power of Natural Light

Natural light offers more than illumination, especially in places where people live, work, and play. Among its benefits are:


Greater Health and Well-Being

Exposure to natural light increases serotonin, making us feel happier and more focused throughout the day. In fact, 78% of employees say natural light improves their well-being while 70% share it improves their work performance.

Natural light can also promote better sleep by regulating our internal clocks, allowing us to feel more energized throughout the day.


Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings

Natural light might not be a complete replacement for other light sources, but it can help you become less dependent on them. Using less artificial light helps you (and your tenants) save money, reduce energy consumption, and contribute to sustainability goals.


The Enhancement of Your Interiors

Natural light creates brighter interiors, making your spaces feel more welcoming and energizing. It can also enhance unique architectural features and bring details to life that would otherwise be overlooked under artificial lighting. Fine nuances can impress current tenants, future tenants, and community partners alike, making your space a place where they feel welcomed and inspired.

Challenges in Utilizing Natural Light into Commercial Spaces

Wanting to incorporate natural light into the workplace isn’t as easy as doing so. For starters, building orientation and location can pose significant challenges. Other surroundings (e.g. nearby trees and buildings) may affect how much natural light shines through your windows.

Incorporating natural light takes place throughout the design phase (pre- and post-construction) and is bespoke to every space. Designers must take into account the building’s location, local weather patterns, privacy concerns, and the potential for future nearby development.

It’s a challenging undertaking, but not an impossible one. To incorporate natural lighting into your commercial spaces, start with a few basic design strategies.

Design Strategies for Maximizing Natural Light

Windows aren’t your only options for maximizing natural light. Try these simple design strategies in your existing commercial spaces to brighten every room.

Use Reflective Surfaces and Materials

Certain materials and colors excel in bouncing and distributing light. Examples include light-colored walls, light wood floors, and mirrors. These amplify natural light and make a room appear brighter, even when there’s little natural light filtering in.

Create Functional Layouts

How you program your space can help or hinder the flow of natural light. Try programming the room to ensure an even distribution of natural light. Removing bulky furniture, adding adjustable window treatments (if needed), and creating open floor plans allow light to flow into every corner.

Add Clear Walls

Trading opaque walls for glass or acrylic walls removes obstructions to natural light, while still providing privacy and necessary breaks in programming. Transparent walls can also create a more welcoming environment and make the space feel more open.

Use Full-Spectrum Natural Lightbulbs

In areas where adding natural light is too much of a challenge, you can mimic its effects with full-spectrum natural lightbulbs. These lightbulbs emit various shades across the color spectrum, making your lighting feel more natural.

Go Minimalist

Less is more when you want to brighten a room. Minimalist designs promote clean lines and remove clutter so light can fill the space.

SouthPark Interiors Success Stories

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a blank slate to incorporate natural light. A skilled designer can bring natural light into existing spaces, with a little imagination.

One example is Elan Research Park, a multi-family apartment community in Charlotte. This design is nature-driven with earthy tones and textures, so it’s no surprise natural light plays a role in its aesthetics. The main amenity spaces feature floor-to-ceiling windows in most of the rooms to maximize natural light flow. This also opens up these areas to the connecting exterior amenities.

The Marshall Rochester, a student housing community in New York, showcases another example of how living spaces can bring in more sunlight. An open second-story exposed floor plan fills this main clubhouse space with natural light. Two-level ceilings allow for beautiful views of the main entry space and let visitors see an open but well-programmed floor plan.

Let the Light Shine in With a Professional’s Touch

Natural light enhances your spaces and adds instant luxury appeal. By changing the way your occupants feel (in a positive way, of course), you’re forging lasting impressions and connecting with them on deeper emotional levels.

SouthPark Interiors is committed to maximizing your spaces and creating functional and visually appealing communities. Contact us today to learn how we can transform your project.