Living on the Mornington Peninsula can afford you lovely views and tranquillity.
It can also allow you to fill your home with wonderful colours and light.
Clever home design can afford you the best use of the natural light for aesthetic appeal and warmth, without leaving your home exposed to overheating in the hot Summer months.
So what can good design do for your house?
A better mood with natural light
Sunlight is wonderfully warm in more than one way. The broad range of colours that the sun provides is soothing to us humans in a way that artificial light can’t easily achieve.
Our mood is lifted with natural light.
Before the sunlight enters your home, you can design around which colour of light you would like to let in. Darker colours outside will absorb the heat and light before it comes through your windows, allowing you to choose, by your choice of paint or materials, which colours you would like to fill your house.
Light coloured surfaces will let in a broad spectrum of light and, as natural light enters your home, will not only brighten up the interior, but will reflect brighter off more coloured objects within. It could be a beautifully coloured couch, kitchen décor, or even art on the wall.
When this sunlight strikes these objects, the broad spectrum can bounce off and brighten so many more of the colours than narrow-band artificial light can. Colours shine brighter, pictures appear richer, and your eye can catch the beauty of the artwork as it was intended, without a natural colour balance.
All of this, in subtle but influential ways, can add to your happiness overall.
Long North-facing walls
A good general rule of house design in Australia, more pertinent the more South your land, is to design your longest wall to face North.
In Summer, the sun is higher in the Northern sky, meaning that eaves will be effective in eliminating direct sunlight on the walls and windows, making for a cooler house in the hot months.
But in Winter, sunlight will strike your walls due to the sun being at a lower angle, helping to regulate temperatures as the brickwork will serve as thermal mass to absorb heat and release it over otherwise chilly nights.
Light can also enter the house itself through low-positioned or full-length windows, and the décor that you choose just inside those windows can light up your interior. You might choose light-coloured flooring so that the house will glow brighter and warmer naturally in the darker time of the year.
Good design will also have your home with the living and dining rooms on the North side, as opposed to the more functional laundry to the South, or garage to the West to shield the rest of the house from the late afternoon Western sun.
Designing for trees – the green reflection
Being a leafy green area, Mornington Peninsula and Bayside areas can also make good use of natural foliage.
Trees, bushes and grass.
A southerly backyard with grass and a line of trees on the far side will make good use of reflected light off the leaves to fill nearby rooms with a soothing green without allowing in direct sunlight.
If you have need of a cool, quiet, slightly darker study or recreation area, perhaps a place to house your TV or computer, with windows that don’t let in too much light, this design will do it.
Trees can also be put to good use on the Western side of the house, to cast shade on walls and windows rather than the hot afternoon sun.
Heat and cool
We have written in detail about how to design for heating and cooling, but the brief summary is that more light entering the house, or striking walls that could conduct heat, the warmer your house will be. Great in Winter when it will save on power bills, but not so good in Summer as you reach for the air conditioner control.
Colour here is not just an aesthetic, but a function of heat, as light colours outside — say on a balcony or paving — and dark colours inside will let in heat and trap it, whereas dark colours outside will absorb the heat before it enters the house, and light colours inside will bounce it off.
Dark colours on your North and West walls can also add to the heat that will enter your home through those walls heating up and releasing it, slowly depending on the mass of the wall. Walls coloured a reflective white, well-insulated and shaded will not provide nearly as much heat.
The shape and colour of the roof will also affect how much heat enters your home. A flat tin roof has nowhere to hide from the sun, whereas a high Colorbond roof with insulation below will allow heat to transfer back out before it gets to your living space.
Why not skylights?
Skylights seem like an ideal feature to bring natural light into a home, and some modern designs are ideal, but the skylights popular in the 80s come with various problems.
With the weather in Victoria being so varied, on the hot days – or even weeks – that we cop on the Peninsula, a skylight can make it hard to keep the heat away. They are hard to regulate in terms of light and heat, especially when poorly insulated, making them a source of heat in Summer and heat loss in Winter. Not exactly what you want.
They then represent a maintenance issue, as the flashing and seals need upkeep and replacement, else you get leaks, which can lead to mould and all the associated health and cost issues related to it, especially if it is in an infrequently occupied beach house.
Some skylights offer a beautiful feature in areas where natural light is difficult to design for however, and reputable companies will do their utmost to ensure functionality and future maintenance are well accounted for. There are situations where It may be a worthwhile expense to explore.
Clerestory windows – windows built above the eyeline – are made for the purpose of bringing in light and allowing airflow, can be built without the problems of construction that can come with a skylight, and can be shut tight or opened easily when needed.
While louvred glass has proven to be a problem over the years, mechanical louvres on clerestory or other windows can serve to reflect or accept your desired amount of light and heat into your home, giving you a full range of heating, lighting, and ventilation options.
This also allows light to fill the room for aesthetic purposes when cleverly positioned, perhaps shining onto a central feature. Depending on your tastes, you might like the view of the stars in the evening as well, and the potential of moonlight entering your living room.
Many of these options will also increase the energy efficiency of your home and lower your annual energy costs. By some examples, the orientation of the house alone can save 40% of your energy bill.
To find out more about how clever design can make your Mornington home a beautiful, temperate joy to live in, contact us at Gilpip Homes today: