home cinema or even a gym! These spaces are fine without the need for natural light sources.
However, if you want to really make use of your basement to expand your actual living space, then much consideration of the uses of light needs to take place at the planning stages.
Common uses for a full lower ground floor basement conversion, with plenty of lightwells include a family room, kitchen, office, guest bedroom and bathroom, in addition to the usual utility functions. With a separate access via an external staircase, a basement could also be used as the office of a home-based business, or a self-contained annexe.
Good lighting is a key ingredient for creating a beautiful basement space, so this should be a major factor in deciding the basement’s layout. Rooms should get priority of daylight and any outdoor access, and so be positioned accordingly. Ideally the landing area will have some natural light, most likely from the hallway above.
Space near the centre of the floorplan or on elevations with no lightwells can be utilised for circulation or for cloakrooms, bathrooms, storage space and utility rooms, which can function without natural light.
Ways to incorporate good natural light in your basement planning include :
- Incorporating multiple lightwells, especially on southern elevations
- Consider a sunken courtyard garden, with glass doors accessing it
- Design a large open plan stairwell through the entire building, lit from above by a large roof light.
- Glass balustrading and open tread staircases allow borrowed light from the hallway above to permeate down
- An open plan layout allows daylight to reach throughout the basement
- Glass partition walls, glazed or partially glazed doors, and glazed top lights above doors allow light to permeate between spaces
- Where a basement extends beneath the garden, flat rooflights are a great way to bring in light
- Investment in a good lighting scheme is essential
- The use of neutral colours and natural finishes to enhance light and space.
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