Monthly Archives: February 2015

Six interior design tips that will help you get the most from your windows

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“The eyes are windows to the soul” might be a truism, but in the world of interior design, the windows are the eyes of the home, and your home says more than most things about who you are. That’s reason enough to put some thought into what they look like. But what, exactly, are the elements of good window design?

 

We’ve been thinking about this and put together a short list of tips to help. As with most design questions, the answer lies somewhere at the intersection of form and function:

 

  1. Function: Control natural light to maximize comfort. 

 

At a purely utilitarian level, windows are nature’s light fixtures. That said, your lighting needs will differ depending on whether you are designing a studio, a home theatre or a bedroom. In all cases, you should consider geography and celestial rhythms when making design decisions. A good rule of thumb is to work with nature, not against it.

 

Case in point: A wall of glass in your east-facing bedroom might seem like a great idea when you’re choosing blueprints in your architect’s office, but not so brilliant six months later when the sun comes blazing over the horizon.

 

  1. Form: Make your windows complement your style. 

 

Not all windows are created equal, and when choosing, you should consider the context. An antique, leaded glass window with a wooden casing might look right at home in a craftsman-style bungalow in the suburbs, but would be out of place in a modern condo in the city.

 

  1. Function: Control natural light to maximize energy savings. 

 

Comfort and style aside, window design also can impact your bottom line. If you have the luxury of designing your own home, you should keep this in mind from the very beginning, as you orient the building. Once again, work with nature, not against it.

 

If the foundation is already poured, you can still save the environment – and money – by installing energy-efficient windows. If a total overhaul is out of range, don’t fret. Thoughtfully selected window coverings can go a long way in saving energy, too.

 

Shutters and cellular shades – like QMotion’s very own honeycomb collection – are among the most energy-efficient options, because they provide an insulating barrier of air between the window and your interior. Automated shades also can help make your space more efficient, by dynamically adjusting to the sun’s rhythms to maximize energy savings.

 

  1. Form: Don’t neglect the view. 

 

Point No. 1 aside, windows are more than just light fixtures. They are our outlets to the world. So orient your home and windows to take advantage of the best views. Also, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Design your interior to complement the living artwork on your walls.

 

  1. Function: Consider your privacy needs when making window design decisions. 

 

Windows might be our eyes on the world, but they are also the world’s eyes on us. Bathrooms are a perfect example of spaces in which the needs for privacy and illumination often conflict. There are many ways to solve this problem.

You can use frosted, rather than transparent, glass; install clearstory windows by the roofline to admit light, while keeping out peeping toms; or, for more flexibility, install semi-transparent shades.

 

  1. Form: Make your windows a focal point. 

 

Sometimes, a departure from the norm is what is needed. If you want to give your windows that extra “ op,” try thinking outside the box. Manufacturers today make windows in all sorts of varieties that can add visual interest to an otherwise dull space.

 

Other ways to liven up your windows include painting the trim – Black-edged windows are all the rage these days – or experimenting with various window treatments.

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The road to enlightenment: Five daylighting retrofits that will help you rein in office energy costs

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When considering how to cut energy use at your office, lighting is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle, accounting for roughly one quarter of total energy use, on average.

 

Technological advances are rapidly making lighting more efficient. However, technology is only one piece of the energy efficiency puzzle. Being attuned to nature – and making best use of sunlight – is just as important. After all, light didn’t first come on the scene when Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb.

 

Daylighting – the controlled use of sunshine to reduce artificial lighting – is a rapidly expanding corner of the sustainable building movement. The environmental benefits of this trend are obvious, but it’s not just a solid land ethic that has so many people invested.

 

According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, daylighting techniques can reduce energy costs by up to one-third. And the benefits don’t stop there.

 

Studies also have shown that natural light can increase worker productivity and decrease absenteeism, further contributing to the bottom line.

 

Today, architects are designing offices from the ground up to maximize these benefits, but you don’t have to start from scratch to see the light. Here are five retrofitting ideas that can help you cut energy consumption, increase productivity and save money:

 

  1. Install skylights. 

 

Skylights – though not possible in every space – can dramatically increase the amount of natural light in your office, eliminating the need for row after row of fluorescent tubes.

 

More advanced solutions – known as “active” skylights – incorporate a mirror system to track the movement of the sun and capture the optimum amount of light. Some systems even absorb less light during summer, to help balance daylighting and cooling needs.

 

As an added bonus, you’ll be able to host awesome stargazing office parties.

 

  1. Install daylight redirection devices. 

 

These devices take direct-beam sunlight and redirect it, generally onto the ceiling of a space. Doing so reduces glare by directing light away from workers’ eyes, while also ensuring light penetrates the space more deeply.

 

  1. Install automated shades. 

 

A successful daylighting strategy must balance the sometimes competing needs for light, comfort, aesthetics and efficiency. Automated shades help achieve this balance by minimizing solar heat gain, reducing glare and maximizing views without constant manual adjustment.

 

  1. Install an automated lighting system. 

 

Installing skylights, automated shades and expensive light redirection devices would be pointless if no one bothered to turn off the lights. There are many systems on the market today that use sensors, dimmers and predictive models to adjust to changing environmental conditions and make the best use of available natural light.

 

  1. Optimize your interior design. 

 

This final element of daylighting, though often overlooked, can make a big difference in your lighting needs. To maximize the use of available light, office partitions should be kept low, enclosed offices should be minimized, and walls and ceilings should be as reflective as possible.

 

Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way toward a healthier, more productive and more energy-efficient workplace.

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