It’s as clear as day: what makes a home great is natural light, according to the NSW Home Design Survey 2018. The NSW Architects Registration Board consulted 2000 Sydney residents about what elements they considered essential in a home, and “natural light and airiness” came in as the top must-have.

As previous blogs will attest, we love a traditional Sydney terrace at Design Plus Drafting. But this style of home, along with the Harbour City’s equally ubiquitous Californian bungalow, is renowned for being on the dingy side. In the days before motorised ceiling fans and air conditioning, small windows and shade-providing verandahs were all the rage for keeping out the summer heat – and consequently natural light.

So how do you give a glum home a sunny disposition? Here are Design Plus Drafting’s renovation tips and tricks for bringing natural light into your life…

Find North

The orientation of your home will dictate how to get the best benefit from the sun’s rays. A north-facing outlook receives year-round sun, so placing light-transmitting openings in walls or roofs along that side of your home makes the most sense. Your building designer can clarify exactly how the sun travels in a Site Plan/Analysis and with Shadow Diagrams. Contact our brainiacs to find out what that involves.


Large panes of glass were too expensive for the average house until the glass-making advances of the 1950s. However, modern glass is now not only affordable on a big scale but much more efficient in terms of thermal and acoustic insulation, safety and security. Consider replacing solid timber doors with glass panelled alternatives (frosted for privacy if necessary) and expanding poky little windows to let more natural light in.

Open Up

Aussie families have embraced open-plan living for many reasons, not least because removing walls to create a combined lounge/dining/kitchen space means an uninterrupted flow of traffic and light. Tweak the floorplan to move elements like a rear bathroom or laundry to a central location, and natural light from glass bi-folds or French doors to the backyard can flood unimpeded throughout the living zone. Hello airy alfresco vibe.

Aim High

Installing a window on a north-facing wall seems like an obvious way to allow more light into a room, but creating an opening directly onto the street is a privacy no-no, or the new view might be less than attractive. The solution? Clerestory windows. Situated high above eye level, a clerestory window (pictured) lets in heaps of natural light without exposing the interior to peeping Toms or framing the next-door café’s dumpster. They’re also handy for walls that host eye or mid-height interior elements like artworks or cabinetry.

Hit The Roof

If a dark area is hemmed in by common and/or interior walls, as is often the case with terrace hallways and passages, the only way is up. As long as you have direct access to a roof above, there is bound to be a skylight on the market to suit your needs. Some tubular designs are so ingenious they utilise low-angle rays of sunlight but reject high midday rays, to deliver a consistent output of illumination. Or you could go old-school with a stylish dormer window to bring natural light and extra head room into an attic space. How very New York Loft.

Whatever your home design needs, the experts here at Design Plus Drafting can come up with the perfect solution and guide your renovation plans through the approval process. Just get in touch and we’ll show you the light.