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Before and After

Using skylights to brighten an open-plan home

Rooms next to spaces with skylights can "borrow" natural light spilling in from above.

A sunroom with two skylights on either side of the roof ridge, a shiplap wall with a bench centered on it and pillows

Guest blog by John Colaneri, founder of Lilyshea Development LLC and former co-host of HGTV shows Kitchen Cousins, Cousins on Call and Cousins Undercover. He recently renovated a ranch home for his family in Northern New Jersey.

Adding natural light to a home can be tricky. You have to know where it makes sense and get the most out of it. I knew that by taking down walls I would be able to share the light with the front and rear, but I needed to do more. When I first walked through the home there was a breezeway/mud room that was portioned off from the rest of the home. It is around a 200-square-foot room that was just being wasted and not utilized like it should be. This room must have been separated from the home in the past since the garage is right next to it. It is also is a slab-on-grade and not part of the basement so that tells me it was added at a later date.

Below, you can see photos of the room as I found it.

Before sunroom existing skylight
Before sunroom no skylight

The cool part about this section of the home is that it had a second front entrance/porch, a sliding rear door, and a skylight that pours a ton of light into the home. I had to share this light with rest of the home and there was only one way to do that. Take down the wall separating the mud room from the main house. To create even more light, I decided to add a second skylight that would flood this area with a ton of natural light.

Now, I know what everyone is going to say, “skylights can leak and add more issues to the roof.” That could be the case if you go with an inferior manufacturer of skylights. That is why when installing skylights I only choose VELUX. The existing skylight is an older VELUX model that is 30 years old! The incredible thing is that even this older model has never leaked! There is no sign of water damage anywhere.

I have 12-foot ceilings in this area and with all the light pouring in it makes a HUGE difference in the rest of the home. Now, as the sun comes over top of the home, I get sunlight from all angles that is shared with the main living area of the home because I took down the wall separating the mud room from the main living area.

Sunroom sharing light with living room

Natural light always makes a home feel larger than it really is and that is why you want to be able to bring as much natural light into the home that you can. The best part about the new skylights is that they open and let fresh air into the home. Now I will be able to cool down the home by opening these skylights.

I chose the solar-powered “Fresh Air” Skylight VSS M04 in the deck mounted model. Since this model is solar powered it has greater energy efficiency, greater functionality, and can open to bring in fresh air along with solar powered blinds and a rain sensor that closes the skylight at the first sign of rain. This skylight is not like your normal skylight that is fixed to just bring in light. I can circulate air throughout the home with the ease of opening it with a remote and if the light is too much, I can close the blinds to diffuse the light. My mudroom is now a sunroom with the amount of light that I have coming in.

Sunroom next to living and dining room

I can walk through this home and literally have no lights on throughout the entire day saving on a lot of energy. The light from the mudroom sunroom area is shared with the living room, dining room, and kitchen. This simple install has literally changed the dynamic of the rest of the home and is making a huge difference in my quest to share light throughout the home.

Want to learn more about borrowed light? Schedule a free virtual consultation with a VELUX daylight designer today!

Next: 10 Reasons to add skylights to your home in 2023

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