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Are skylights and light tubes too modern for a mid-century house? 

30 min read Most mid-century homes are a little light on natural light in certain areas. Pun intended. If you’ve done all you can to light your home with open interior spaces and maximized window openings. Have you considered bringing in light from above?

Mid-century homes are often kind of light on daylight, so I get a lot of questions about whether skylights and light tubes are appropriate and feasible options. The short answer? Heck yeah!

Now, there are plenty of horror stories out there about leaky mid-century skylights. And those were well founded at the time. But times have CHANGED, my friends and today’s skylight and light tube options are vastly superior to their mid-century predecessors. They are very appropriate for the era and have finally reach a level of performance mid-century moderns could only dream of.

Why is your mid-century home so dark to begin with?

Well Designed MCM Homes are filled with light

Many aspirational homes of the times used daylight beautifully. And in warmer climates, large areas and walls of glass performed pretty well thermally speaking. You’ll see lovely glass arrays in Eichler and Cliff may homes. In more variable climates (ahem, the Midwest), these walls translated down to a picture window or maybe a glass slider out to the patio. 

original Cliff May ads

  • Vintage media piece for Cliff May Homes. via Atom Stevens

Cliff May homes.

So why is your home light on daylight?

Beyond climate and cost, builders at the time prioritized simplicity. And lighting for living areas was seen as part of the furniture package families would bring into the home, rather than part of the building package like the task lighting in kitchens and bathrooms. When you furnished your home, lamps and pendant lights were often sold as part of the bedroom or living room set.  

Current building culture assumes that a well-lit space equates to general bright light…read “tons of can lights.” I personally dislike plunking in a bunch of can lights. They don’t provide necessary task lighting and might actively kill the mood at your big housewarming party. Instead, prioritize lighting that serves specific purposes and creates a more comfortable and functional environment.

When in doubt, add skylights

One of the best ways to enhance lighting in a mid-century home is by incorporating natural light through skylights and solar tubes. Skylights have evolved significantly over the years, offering benefits like improved aesthetics, increased home value, and the ability to bring natural light into underutilized spaces.

Skylights

Skylights can transform dark areas of your home, such as kitchens and living rooms, by magnifying and bouncing light around. When considering skylights, you have the option of fixed or operable skylights. Operable skylights are particularly beneficial as they can cool your home naturally, reducing the need for air conditioning.

Solar Tubes

If you’re looking for a cost-effective alternative to skylights, solar tubes are a fantastic option. They are easier to install and can channel daylight into spaces that traditional skylights might not reach. Plus, with current subsidies and discounts, now might be the perfect time to consult with a solar tube installer to see if they’re a good fit for your home.

In Today’s Episode You’ll Hear:

  • Why your mid-century home may seem a little light on daylight.  
  • Which products can create a whole new light experience.  
  • Suggestions for skylight and light tube placement. 

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Read the Full Episode Transcript

Last week we talked about the right kind of windows for your mid-century walls. But what about letting in light through the roof? Most mid-century homes are a little light on natural light in certain areas. Pun intended, and I stand by it.

So if you’ve done all you can to let your home with opening up interior spaces and maximizing the window openings in your walls. Have you considered bringing in light from above? Sit back and listen. While I give you a little background on why there might not be enough daylight or artificial light in a mid-century home and what you could do about it today, some tubes and skylights.

Hey there. Welcome back to mid mod remodel. This is the show about updating MCM homes helping you match a mid-century home to your modern life. I’m your host Della Hansmann architect and mid-century ranch enthusiast, you’re listening to Episode 1709.

Before we get into it, hey, where are my Douglas Adams stands? Do you happen to know the answer to life, the universe and everything? If you do you also know how old I’m going to be on my birthday, which is Saturday June 8. To be honest, I’m pretty excited about this one. It’s such a nerdily wonderful number.

And I’m also absolutely loving being in my 40s Not that I think there’s a bad age to be decade wise. I have people important to be living through their 20s their 30s their 50s in their 70s Right now, and they’re all doing it so gracefully. I don’t know anyone in their 60s or any teenagers. Is that weird? Anyway, all I can say is that for me?

It’s a high energy high confidence time. I’m having a great time running this business living in my home. I’m just taking up running, running again. And I’m going to do a birthday 5k So wish me luck. It’s just a park run. But still, I’m excited. That’s pretty much what I have planned. I’m gonna get pizza and have an excuse to eat cake. But as a dyed in the wool introvert whose two best friends live to time zones away, I’m not throwing a big party. I am though going to lean into the idea I had last year which is to give you a present for my birthday.

Just like last year, I’m running a sale on all of the home improvement educational resources amid mod Midwest. Last year, there was a 41% discount on ready to remodel masterplan in a month. And every single one of the mid-century design clinics, I’ve given the curb appeal update the kitchen, the owner suite, the addition and last week’s more than a mood board clinic this year, they’re all 42% off for one day only.

So if you’ve been on the fence, now is your time to ask. I don’t run these discounts all the time, or ever, really. But I do want you to make good mid-century choices all the time. So for my birthday, I guess the party I’m inviting you to is join me at next month’s architect office hours. Every happy member of ready to remodel shows up every month there on the first Monday of the month. And we answer all of the pressing questions that have come up about what’s going on with your house, how to talk to contractors about your plans, the right height to hang your Pendant Lights, tricky layout challenges you’re working with and more.

It’s the party that I really want you to be there for. And if you’re thinking about ready to remodel on Saturday, you can do it for four to 2% less than any other day this year. Come on the waters just fine.

Okay, so let’s get into a little bit of a history snippet about why your mid-century house might need more light. The fact is that most mid-century homes that were built, you know, in the main the builder grade level, were often under lit for a number of reasons, including but not limited to keeping costs down. And mid-century housing crash was being dealt with at speed and the faster new homes could be constructed and finished, the more simpler they were, the happier everyone was.

It was also an era when people took a lot of pride in choosing their own furnishings or home and lighting was considered to be part of that package. So while the kitchen the bathrooms in the bedrooms had to come with just one source of general light dining rooms might have none living rooms almost certainly did not.

You were meant to bring your own table lamps, floor lamps and pendant lamps to suit the furnishing styles of your rooms. in a neighborhood where everyone’s home was conduct constructed identically, same time, same finishes and costs. One of the ways people could show off that they were doing well was to purchase an entire set of matched living room furniture, bedroom furniture, rec room furniture, and these sets came with lighting.

The other reason it didn’t happen was people didn’t expect it. You’ll find less wired in lighting and a mid-century house because people hadn’t had electric light for that long there was just a lot less lighting available to people. Of course some people had had all the light and power they’d ever wanted. The wealthy have always been able to have first candles and bracers and gas then powered lighting.

But there were limits on electricity and people wanted to brightly light their homes in the most important areas they weren’t really worried about having light everywhere all the time. They also frankly were reaching out for qualities of light that we don’t appreciate these days. They thought of practical light as being fluorescent tube bars and we can do so much better with led these days.

So the kind of lead in they often defaulted to felt a little harsh. It wasn’t actually that pleasant to have around again, the pleasant lighting good We’ll head to the mid-century era with their personalized choices, the light they chose, and had shaded with lamps, pendants and floor lamps, and more.

So, generally speaking, in the mid-century era, it was still maybe even the late 40s. In some areas, getting to areas getting into the full swing of construction in the 1950s. This just wasn’t that far away from the time when people were not used to having a whole lot of light in their rooms after dark.

To tie us back to a recent episodes on Frank Lloyd Wright a couple of weeks ago, when I was younger and more hot headed, I used to get really mad about what I saw as a design failure on rights part to even think about his clients preferences and comfort in his design work.

Now, I still believe he was much more interested in the power of his particular choices than in the requirements of his client, or in a general requirement for human comfort. The something I can say for him now is that he didn’t grow up in a time when there was a lot of human comfort in houses, houses in his childhood weren’t particularly well, air sealed, they weren’t particularly easy to heat, or light.

So when he was thinking about what was important to design, he just really wasn’t thinking about how to keep the cold out. His solution to cold winter weather was to go to Arizona. He famously designed a corner window at his own home in Wisconsin, that was two sheets of glass stuck together with a little bit of sap as an adhesive. Air clearly blows through that gap to this day.

But again, remember when you take freight in context, he was born in the 1800s. He grew up in homes that were never thermally comfortable, even though he did or well air sealed. It just didn’t seem that important to him, because it wasn’t the default requirement of a good house. The best houses couldn’t do that. So why should his so we can take him as an example.

And think about the fact that mid-century houses, people just had different assumptions for what a well-lit space could be. But that doesn’t mean we have to live that way, or like it’s just the backstory. What we’re used to now is something quite different. As electricity became cheaper and more common, it became standard for American houses to include general wired and lighting in every room, electrical wiring became more complex.

And it was easier to do things like put lights on a dimmer of multiple switches at multiple points of entry for a room. And we’ve gotten in the habit if we’re used to living in apartments or living in homes built after the mid-century era to have built in general light in every space in the house. So I want us just to take this as the prologue for what we’re going to talk about today. It may be that there’s not enough lighting, artificial or daylight in your mid-century house.

And that is, well it’s not okay, but it is normal. As I often do, I’m actually going to start by telling you what I hope you won’t do. And it’s somewhat predicated on the advice I think you will get when you talk to contractors about what to do to improve your Mid-century home. This may take the form of a quick rant. Honestly, I hate canned lights, I want to push back on the idea that upgrading and updating a mid-century home is always about adding as much general light as possible, putting in an array of potentially very bright, but hopefully dimmable lights in every room in the house is not the most pleasant general lighting situation.

And when you think about a room and what kind of light it needs as you live your daily life, it can be really easy to just understand that the room isn’t working. You can see it’s too dim. You can see it’s depressingly dark in the winter. It doesn’t encourage you to come in there at night. And that’s a fine jumping off point. There’s nothing wrong with noticing a problem and wanting to take action. But before you say okay, we’re going to remodel and when we remodel can lights.

Instead, ask yourself what kind of activities and feelings you’re trying to foster in each space at the time of day and the times of year. Overhead general lighting is probably not the best solution. But it is what every general contractor worth their salt is going to suggest. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, with a hammer in your hand, everything starts to look like a nail. And when you are an electrician, you have a strong impulse to put canned lights into every space.

And certainly, you may put in canned lights into your home. But I will encourage you first to really create the space you want by having more task lighting and more mood lighting available rather than just more general bright light. So even if you do fill your house with canned lights, I’m going to recommend you keep them off most of the time. A lot of harsh ceiling illumination that shines down on faces creates shadows that are harsh if they’re dim and create spaces that are too bright for pleasant activities other than nighttime panic cleaning or throwing a big party, I guess maybe even just one particular type of party.

Now, an electrician will tell you there won’t be shadows under your face as long as you have enough cam lights. And I will tell you that I hate the look of a ceiling that has a candlelight every four feet in a relatively small way space especially it’s just weird. This may well be one of the places where you have to stand your ground when you talk to contractors about what to do in the space.

For example, when my sister and her husband were doing a walkthrough of their upcoming remodel project with the general contractor and his team. They talked about the bathroom and how they wanted to keep the window in their shower area and just properly waterproof it, rather than take it out. They were recommended strongly by the contractor to remove that window because they just find it easier to tile straight up that wall and the electrician chipped in in that moment, don’t worry, we’ll just put in more can lights.

To which my sister said, I already just told you I really like natural light on my face. When I look at the mirror in the bathroom. I don’t want to rely on canned lights. But he didn’t even hear her say it. Anyway, I really hate this overuse of ceiling based artificial light, it is unnecessary, and it’s something to sort of push back on as much as possible.

Wait, I have one more thing I have to say about canned lights and why I don’t like them. I thought I was done. But I’m not. The other thing about a candlelight is it works like that. But it sounds there is a can a metal housing that is pushed up into the attic space of your home or if it’s the basement the space between floors. And that’s more fine, I guess for this particular reason. Because basically when you push on a main floor in a ranch house main floor ceiling up into the attic space, what you’re doing is pushing away any potential for lay flat installation that’s going on.

Also we’re making holes in the ceiling surface, which is giving just the possibility that air might move between the attic space and the house. Now a quality electrician will do their best to seal that off with caulk and foam and all sorts of things. And even to create a thermal barrier between the edges of the light and the ceiling surface itself. But we are just violating the boundary between inside space and attic space, which is one of the most successful ways that mid-century typical Gable ranch houses stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We need to insulate. But we also can’t really just insulate directly around an old an old style of vintage candlelight because it might create a heat source.

In any case, we’re making a thinner spot and the insulation which is a place where hot and cold air can move back and forth between the House and the attic. Now, if you are actually committed to can lights or if your ceiling already has candlelight openings in it, I recommend you switch instead to LED disk lights which are the newer incarnation of this fixture.

These LED lights don’t need space for a bulb to go up into the attic surface. They like compact LEDs. So there’s a little flats author that may actually even project down from the ceiling slightly, they still need a power box that goes into the attic. But it’s less of a problem. Like I say it’s a viable alternative, you already have candlelight openings in your ceiling from a previous remodel. But if you don’t, I will just say one of the advantages of an untouched mid-century house is that it’s probably very well sealed in all of its gaps and corners. They’re not just molded and taped; they are plastered together. And a modest little builder grade house doesn’t actually need as much insulation as a modern house.

More insulation is always better, of course. But it can hold some of its temperature heat or cold just by not having any unintentional air transmittance. Because it’s very well seal separated, you immediately violate that when you puncture a hole in the ceiling to put in a candlelight. So bottom line, please don’t That was my rant. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

All right, and you’re saying okay, Della fine, I wasn’t going to put in candlelight anyway. Sure. Or maybe you were and now you aren’t. But you still need to see what’s happening inside your rooms at night. So what are you going to do instead? And actually, perhaps maybe you need to see around better what’s happening in some of your rooms during the daylight.

I’m so glad you brought this up. I’m going to split my answer into two categories. And the short version of Category One is with artificial light. Think about the areas in each room, not just the room itself, where you’re going to do a task. Where do you read? Where do you sit around and talk? Where do you make food? Where do you watch the television and try to provide tasks specific and mood specific light for those areas rather than just putting a lot of general light onto the ceiling.

This might be the topic of an entirely different podcast episode because today I’m going to focus on the second category of how to make your home brighter and that is to add more daylight. Now there’s lots of glass in a high end mid-century home. By the way, yes, I’m aware I transferred from what I was calling history snippet, the history of why there’s not a lot of wired and electrical lights and now I’ve just in the episode. Go with it. Will you Okay, great. Thanks. Love you.

Anyway, there is a lot of glass and high end mid-century home. There is part of the reason that there wasn’t a lot of Wired light in a mid-century house was people did their best to just bring in daylight, particularly in California where the ranch originated, they had far less concerned about temperature control or water or snow management in mid-century homes.

So they had entire glass walls, sliding glass doors set into fixed glass spaces. They also had skylights, and they were built with courtyards or atria at the center to make sure daylight was getting right into the middle of the house and not just shining in around the edges. It’s a quality of a California mid-century home particularly the Southern California variety, that to extent they wanted to invite in indirect light and keep direct light out.

They didn’t want the sun shining right in on their spaces, so they wouldn’t have wanted skylights too much. They wanted each room to have plenty of light bounced and from the surrounding environment. I’ll show a couple of examples of Eichler and Cliff may homes that are built around their big walls of glass, high clerestory windows that bring in skylight without giving away too much private Street, and glass top skylights.

But more often than not, they’re bringing in light from the edges of the house, not the center. In other regions of the country, the architects who were trying to push the envelope in mid-century design, were designing the skylights, with courtyards, and with as much glass all around the house as possible. Builder grade homes didn’t get to take advantage of this quite as much. They didn’t have as much glass in their outdoor walls, and almost none in their ceiling. But they still have plenty of nods towards the idea.

The standard picture window that you find in a Midwestern builder grade Ranch is the watered down equivalent of that wall of glass you find in a cliff may or an Eichler tract home. mid-century houses did rely on daylight, we often talk about how when you remodel a mid-century house, you may have to make a lot of changes to it to bring it up to modern building code. But there is one element of the mid-century era building code that I would argue is a little better than what we have right now.

In that era, most homes were required to have some amount of natural light and vent in every room. So you weren’t allowed to have a landlocked living space, even a bathroom, it had to have an operable window to let moisture out and daylight. And now we are allowed to use artificial vent, vent fans and artificial light electric switch lights to make up the difference. And I think honestly, we’ve lost something even though sometimes from a layout perspective, it does make sense to land locker room. I hate to do that. And when I do I bring in natural light from above.

So let’s talk about how to bring in daylight from above. I’m going to talk about two kinds of daylight. One is the question that I recently got on is it appropriate to add some tubes or sun tunnels to a mid-century house? And the answer to that question is yes, absolutely. And I’ll get to more in a minute. But first I want to talk about skylights. A lot of my clients and students share with me that skylights make them nervous. They’ve had an experience in a past home or a childhood home, where a poorly installed or poorly constructed skylight leaked water into a part of the house where it should not be the living space or the attic.

This is obviously disastrous. Water in the wrong place is a terrible thing for any home of any era. And it can absolutely feel like the best way to avoid it is to put no holes in the roof of your house. But skylights have actually come quite a long way. Most of the skylights that people experience were manufactured and installed in the 1970s. This was a time when there was a big focus on energy efficiency and the use of natural light and there was a big push to renovate older homes and put skylights into their roof as well as insulation into their walls.

But the technology hadn’t really quite caught up with the idea. So many of those early skylights that were retrofit into homes were poorly insulated, poorly installed and poorly manufactured, resulting in condensation and leaks. Not great. Here’s the thing, you don’t want to skimp on quality in a modern skylight. And this is not a place I would ever recommend DIY installation. Don’t go with the lowest bid. But I do believe that a modern skylight is a great thing and a completely different animal from the 1970s version. So I recommend that you consider skylights in your home because they’re going to bring a view of the sky and daylight to under used under lit spaces.

In the designs we’ve done for our mid-century master plans, we’ve considered a bunch of ways to install a skylight, a directional shaft that goes straight from an opening on the roof to an opening of the same size and a flat eight foot ceiling sometimes over a work surface or a piece of art or in a hallway. Or to transfer more light inside, we might create an opening in the ceiling that is larger than the opening and a roof with angled white painted drywall returns bouncing light around to increase its potency.

From a structural point of view, we’re often trying to slip a skylight in between rafters or interrupt only one rafter. So we don’t want to spread out that angle of the return in every direction, we might create a slice that runs parallel with the roof slope it spreads out forward and back to create light pointing where we want it to or to make a logical opening that’s symmetrical in the roof and also in a logical point on the ceiling that aren’t quite in the same alignment with each other.

And sometimes we get to go all the way and recommend elevating the ceiling to an angle near or close to the roof angle, and then also introducing skylights. This can absolutely try to form a living space particularly a small one from cramped on lovely area into the centerpiece of the house. So what we want to do is prevent landlocked areas of the house from being devoid of light. Let me follow that train of thought for a minute.

One of the reasons we recommend skylights for clients is because the amount of natural light in the middle of a house has been cut down due to previous editions. Sometimes we’re dealing with a space that was originally brightly lit or well enough, but darkness was created by the 1970s or an 80s remodel. Sometimes we’re the ones that are adding on a space to the outside edge of the house that’s going to cut off the access to daylight from this new space.

This often happens around kitchens, kitchens typically have some sort of patio space accessible near them, and people like to put a roof over that turn that roof into a three season space, then insulate that three season space and turn it into part of the house. Suddenly, the kitchen has gone from a place with one or several bright windows near the sink, bringing in all of its daylight to an island of darkness in the middle of the house. No matter of flipping on lights in the daytime, it’s gonna make the kitchen feel like the best place to hang out on a sunny day.

But since most mid-century houses and mid-century ranches in particular are just one story, we have some pretty easy recourse here, we can bring in a skylight to flood the kitchen with fresh light. And you don’t need to have an addition cutting off daylight in order to make a skylight a good idea. Sometimes houses with a strong north south orientation just end up having a sunny side and a shading side of the house that moves through the day, and literally decides where you don’t want to spend time I experienced this in my own house.

To a certain extent, my living room can be a glowing light box on winter mornings, the low angle near Solstice light shines directly in and it makes myself at the best spot in the house, which makes it really hard to switch modes after breakfast and get up and go across to the dark west side of my house into my office to get working. Similarly, I find myself working late towards the end of the day in the spring and fall because the sunny side of the house has switched to my office side. And I just don’t want to be in any other part of the house.

This situation can be exacerbated if you have a lot of tree cover in one part of your house. That was true for one client I had recently. It meant that even during the time of the day that the sun was technically on that side of the house, they weren’t getting much of it, leaving big areas of the house in darkness. Now in the house that I’m thinking of the original design, a very well built but sort of stolid mid-century, mid-western mid-century ranch had one bright morning room, the office that then became unbelievably dark when the light went away.

And it was similarly dim and sort of depressing in the living room on the opposite side. Even though it had big windows looking out at some gorgeous trees. We solve that problem by elevating the ceiling in the living room and installing some amazing skylights, which not only magnified the light, we made the whole space feel bigger and better connected, even to the view out the windows to see those pretty tree bowls. But we also saw the light problem happening on the office side by putting a series of interior Windows across the spine of the house on either side of hearth.

So now we can bounce light from the bright side of the house to the dim one, whatever time of day, it might be, you might try the same thing. If you’re thinking that it might be nice to bring daylight into the middle of your house. But a skylight feels like too bold of a choice either for your pocketbook, or just for that sense of Oh no, there’s a hole in my roof, then I’d love to recommend the compromise solution. And that is a sun tunnel, a solar tube, a tube light.

These are a version of skylights, that’s extra easy to install and easier on your wallet. Basically, at the roof, it’s a small sealed bubble that transmits light down a polished shiny metal tube through any attic space. And it’s easy to insulate around, so you prevent the loss of heat through that tube. And it comes out at ceiling level and a flat glass element that looks a lot like a surface mounted ceiling light.

Even though the opening is small, the fact that it’s gathering light from the whole sky and then bouncing and flattening it down that mirror tube means you’re getting a lot of daylight through a small aperture. And depending on how you design that surface ceiling mount, the diffusion can be a point source or general glow.

I love these little devices. They even work well to place light on the surface of your ceiling in specific spots. For example, if the place you most wanted to bring light in a central area, maybe in an internal hallway was right at the center of the house, it might be right under the peak of your roof, which you might understand is not a good place to put a skylight. But these solar tubes can be angled that metal reflecting part doesn’t have to run straight up and down. So you can choose to put the penetration in your roof and a different part of the roof. Now there’s a length maximum there. But within reason you can even use this to put a light towards the front of your house on the interior ceiling height and then run the solar tube the bubble that’s at your roof height to the back of the house so it’s not visible from the street.

You can also use this if you’re combining skylights and solar panels, you might choose the spot with care that you want to penetrate the roof in order to get the maximum solar exposure for both devices. Like I mentioned, some tunnels solar tubes are easy to install, and generally more cost effective than no skylights. And they can come with an added discount.

Often they’re combined with a wall switch ceiling light. So you’ve got one place the best place for light to come in that when there’s daylight you get daylight and when you don’t. You can flip on a switch and turn on an altar artificial light. If there’s any type of a PV element photovoltaic you may be ill eligible for a federal or state subsidy as well. Now, due to the way these laws are written and the way they’re funded, these subsidies come and go very unpredictably.

So the best source for information on whether or not there are discounts associated with solar tubes right now are the solar tube installers themselves. They always know when there’s a good deal to be had, especially because the difference between what you pay and what they receive is made up for by someone else. So basically, my advice to you is this. If you’re even slightly intrigued by the idea of bringing daylight into the center of your house, Google solar tube installer near me and pick up the phone right now have a consultation, go wander in a showroom, chat about this with someone and see if they can persuade you it’s a good idea. I certainly think it is.

Now before we wrap up the topic of bringing in daylight through your ceiling and roof, I want to talk about the idea of operable skylights for cooling. Now, this is probably not a feature you’re gonna get from a solar tube, but you could get it from a skylight, you have the opportunity to make an operable opening in your roof. That means you can put in a skylight that opens.

Now, we were just talking at the beginning of the episode about how people fear skylights because they’re afraid they will leak. So it might seem like the safest possible skylight is one that is sealed, completely solid with some sort of sci fi level impenetrable resin. But hear me out. Well installed operable skylights manufactured at the top of their brand can do wonders for your energy bill and your human comfort.

Last week when we were talking about windows, I mentioned the term stack effect cooling. That means if you were to open windows low and high, for example, in your basement and on your main floor, or an awning window near the floor of your living room, and the top of the double hung window of your sink, you can generate a breeze through your house where warm air rising and escaping drawers and cooler air to replace it.

Now if you want to play around with us to run an experiment as the weather gets warmer, one of the best ways to do this is to orient the high window on the sunny side of your house and the low windows in the shade that will draw in the cool shady air and push out the hot air into the sun. But the best and highest possible place to open a window to let warm air out of your houses. You guessed it, it’s the ceiling. So having the ability to open one or several skylights, and also several windows in your house, possibly even in your cool basement, you could create a whole house flow of air that is absolutely free. No fan noises, no air conditioning bill.

Under the right conditions, this can happen all day every day. So if you’re interested in operable skylights, there are a number of varieties. Of course there’s the fixed kind that’s not operable, it’s just a window in your roof. Usually this is easiest to install and slightly cheaper to purchase. They’re best installed in a sloped roof, and they’re usually pretty easy to deck mount that means to attach directly to your roof without building up any kind of a curb. If you want to vent it or a fresh air skylight, you make it the kind that mounts directly to the roof, a deck mount or it might need to be attached to a site built curb that pops it away from the roof so that water is always directed away from the opening.

Remember, we don’t want water in your house. I don’t want this either. For operable skylights you can choose between powered, solar powered or hand crank types, and they can be operated in a range of ways by a button on the wall by a light switch or by an app on your phone. If you think you can’t have a skylight on a flat roof, you can. There are flat roof designs that have a curve built in to shed water in every direction.

Or one of the mid-century solutions to this problem was to pop up a site built curb and raised edge and put that curb at an angle so that the snow or the water load was shed off of the skylight window and back down onto the flat roof, which of course is never perfectly flat. It’s always slightly sloping away so the water is gently drawn off the roof surface. For a large skylight, you might even think you, you might want to have a large, one single skylight that might or might not open. Or you might have a series of smaller skylights that form an array and create a larger opening in the ceiling to make space for that you could have restructuring of a roof rafters or you might have roof rafters exposed that run through and across the open space.

The possibilities are almost limitless. I hope you’re gonna give a skylight a shot. And if you’re thinking about it, there’s one more thing to consider, which is that skylights don’t only bring daylight into your house. They can also bring in moonlight in a totally stunning way. A client of mine recently installed a north facing skylight in their new kitchen, an elevated ceiling space that’s open plan and really gorgeous. And on the very first night they got to experience it. They took a photo and sent it to me instantly the entire space was bathed in gorgeous moonlight and from the right angle they could look up and see the moon, even though they live on a generously wooded lot covered in oak trees, and would have had to walk several blocks away from their house to see the moon from outside.

That’s an amazing benefit that they hadn’t planned for. But I now think about whenever I recommend a skylight to a client. What do you think? Are you considering skylights or maybe just a sun tunnel in your house? I’d love to hear if you are. So I said I was done talking about my birthday. But apparently, I’m just pretty excited about being 42. I don’t know, it seems like a great year to be, then again, there are advantages to every decade of life you might find yourself in.

And like I said, at the top, there’s magic to being your 20s. And feeling all that enthusiasm and possibility ahead of you. Sometimes the best way to get something done is to not know how hard it’s going to be and just dive in, not knowing what might stop you and having to go forward. On the other hand, my folks in their 70s constantly impressed me with their absolute, I do what I want and don’t even remember what day of the week it is energy, that magic of the boomer retiree, I look at them. And even though I can’t really emulate their vibe entirely and still coordinate with my clients and team to run a successful business, I do feel like there’s something to be taken from this. Something about listening to my own internal rhythms and being more interested in what I feel then pressure from things coming from outside of me.

So how does this apply to remodeling mid-century houses? Wealth, I always like to look for the silver lining or the upside of any situation. For example, when I have clients in a time capsule house, hurray, they get to keep everything they like about their house as authentic and attacked. And anything they have to spend money on is a choice. When a house has been completely flipped. Well, there’s an upside to that, too. In that situation, you have total freedom to build the house backwards any mid-century moment you want.

And you don’t need to feel beholden to any original stain, color, trim, Windows you don’t like et cetera. There’s always a pro and a con. So let’s take that kind of attitude to wherever you are in your life stage, or whatever type of house situation you find yourself. And also apply it to where you are in your home ownership journey. If you are a new homeowner, maybe not even into your house yet, or just in your first year of making this house, your home, you have so much possibility to try things out to do research to teach yourself new skills, and genuinely ride the wave of excitement that comes about this house being yours.

And on the other hand, if you’ve been in your house for decades, and you’re just now coming around to the time, the energy, the budget, a new brand new love for mid-century, perhaps you’ve got so much going for you too. You have the weight of your experience of living in this house the way it performs, not just day to day, but through the year and also through the particularly cold years or that year, it was really hot and humid in the summer. You know how you’ve cycled through different stages of life in your home and how you’ve seen your needs and the houses gifts aligned or misaligned over time. And that can give you insight into the way you may continue to live into the house differently.

As you live through more life stages. You may not have the fresh eyes of someone new to the house. So it might be harder for you to see different perspectives, look through the walls, unlearn the things you’ve taken for granted, but you have so much self-knowledge that you’re really standing on a strong foundation. The pep part of this pep talk is to enjoy the situation you’re in and lean into its benefits.

And the advice component would be that once you’ve thought through the benefits of where you are, think about the potential drawbacks or limitations you experience and then go find the resources you need to counteract them. If you have not much more than enthusiasm, seek out experts get an inspector and go through the building with them in detail. Go on down to the building department and hang out with whoever’s working in the desk asking them questions about your house and what’s permissible for it.

Seek out other mid-century homeowners like people inside of mid mod remodel and ask them who they are going to for advice and get advice from them about the choices they’re making for their homes. On the other side, if you’re decades into the process of loving and living in your home, and now you want to break the inertia of being there in order to make and see big changes, seek out new resources, maybe some of those young homeowners across the block to help you look at your house with fresh eyes.

You also need a ReMod Squad of people who are excited about mid-century and who can benefit from your experience as well as giving you their enthusiasm. I guess the advice for everyone is find your ReMod squad.

I’m going to say one more time the birthday sale on Saturday gives you 42% off joining ready to remodel it’s a steal. And I hope you’re gonna take it as an opportunity to join us in the program which is chock full of all the resources you need to walk yourself through the process of a perfect Master Plan. Think about what matters to you. Learn the design, structure and history of your house, focus your mid-century style, test different ideas and then develop a master plan that will carry you through your remodel, whether it’s happening all at once this year, or in small DIY projects over the next decade.

It’s always the right idea and Saturday is the right time. So let’s wrap it up. Find the transcript of this episode and links to the resources I mentioned in the show notes page at mid mod dash midwest.com/1709.

I hope you’re gonna find some ways to shed new light on your perspective as a homeowner and bring more daylight into your house possibly through a brand new skylight, or a cleverly placed solar tube. When you do reach out let me know I want to cheer for this.

Next week we’re going to be talking about project management and how you can prepare to lead your remodel whether you are overseeing every detail yourself or just coordinating with a general contractor that you want to communicate to and then trust I’ll share anecdotes of my own experience through various clients over the years, stories from my own remodel and my sister’s ongoing Kitchen and Bath update…which I am beyond excited about. Stay tuned to find out more! Catch you next week.

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