Home renovations are often exciting and stressful in equal measure, but the end result can literally transform and improve your family’s life.
In this busy, modern world, our homes should be our sanctuaries – where we can walk through the front door and breathe a sigh of relief, where we feel safe, comfortable and content.
Often it’s the simple pleasures that bring the greatest joy – a tranquil view out across the garden, doors that can thrown open to bring the outside in, pools of natural light that instantly brighten your home, and your mood.
Years ago, doors and windows were intentionally built small to reduce heat loss in winter, or trapping too much in summer (if you’ve ever sweltered inside an old-fashioned glass-panelled conservatory, you’ll know just what we mean!).
Modern glazing products, including bi-fold doors, glass sliding doors, window seats and roof lanterns, are made from solar reflective glass. This allows plenty of natural light to come in, but bounces the heat away so you have a bright, but still comfortable, environment. Which means you can now install large architectural glass features in your home without feeling like a bug under a magnifying glass.
If you’ve ever wondered how to increase natural light in your home, we’ll be interviewing a series of real clients who’ve had our products installed in their own homes. We’ll let you know what they chose, why they chose it and how it’s improved their houses and their lives.
I’m from New Zealand, where houses are built are open plan and airy, so I knew I wanted products that brought more natural light into the home. Our dream had always been to open up the back of our house to create a large, open kitchen-diner, so when we finally embarked on a big renovation last year we decided this space was going to be our main focus.
My partner works for 1st Folding Sliding Doors, so we had the advantage of knowing about all the brilliant new architectural glass products that are available. We’d previously had folding sliding doors, but decided that the new, bigger space deserved something new and exciting, so we went for a modern three-panel glass sliding doors instead. It was what they called ‘virtually frameless’, so the entire back wall would essentially be glass, allowing maximum views and sunlight. Also we’ve got young children, so I liked the fact they had a flush threshold, which means the bottom frame is completely level with your inside floor, so there’s no risk of tripping.
It was my partner who first suggested also adding a frameless glass roof lantern, and when I looked at them on the 1st Folding Sliding Doors website I instantly fell in love. We’d been looking for something to give the room a real ‘wow’ factor, and this was it. This was different to a standard roof light in that it was frameless (meaning it didn’t have metal strips obscuring the view) and it was a triangular prism (a 3-D lantern with a rectangular base and sides that slant upwards to create a triangle shape at the top). It gave us loads of all lovely natural light and also added extra height to the ceiling. Plus, it looked amazing – a real design feature!
We struck it lucky with our builders, who were brilliant. They worked closely with the 1st Folding Sliding Doors team for a few weeks prior, to get the kitchen-diner ready for installation. The big glass doors themselves were installed in just one day.
The kitchen-diner had been boarded off from the main house, so I didn’t see them in their full glory until the extension was fully secured and the temporary wall came down. I walked through the kitchen door and literally did a double take.
The entire back wall was now floor-to-ceiling glass, with uninterrupted views right across the garden, which made the space seem huge. The roof lantern totally opened up the ceiling, making the kitchen diner feel even more spacious, and the light was just pouring in. With its prism design and modern metal frame it looked gorgeous too – so it wasn’t just practical, but an actual design feature too.
Nearly a year later, and I still feel that impact every time I walk through the kitchen door. In fact, it’s such a gorgeous, light-filled space now we barely use our lounge anymore.
We’ve set up a sofa next to the sliding doors, and I’ll sit there with a cup of tea and my laptop. In summer, I slide the doors open and all the lovely fresh air and sunshine floods in. It’s perfect for slow weekends too – my daughters (aged 8 and 10) will cuddle up next to me on the sofa, and we’ll watch the pigeons settling in the trees outside, and the kites soaring overhead.
On clear nights the starry sky through the roof lantern literally takes my breath away; even on wild and wet days, nothing beats the sound of the rain pattering on the glass.
I often joke that I never want to leave the house now, and I’m only half kidding. The glass sliders and roof lantern are the focal points of our home, by far, our favourite parts of our entire renovation.