Ground-floor flat: What to do when neighbouring buildings block out natural light? – Raymond’s testimony in Tournai

Claudine and Raymond K. recently bought a flat in Tournai, Belgium. Located on the ground floor of the block and surrounded by other buildings of several storeys, their rooms were dark, with very little natural light or sun reaching them. With Espaciel, they found a solution to brighten up their interior… Lucy, an Espaciel advisor, fills us in on the background to Raymond and Claudine’s story.

 
Initial contact

In May 2015, Claudine and Raymond K. contacted us by email after finding the Espaciel website. They had just avant sejour sombremoved into a flat with very little natural light in either the living room or kitchen. Their flat is located on the ground floor of a multi-storey block, with another 4-storey building located just a few meters away. Despite the presence of a 3-metre wide French window and another 86-cm wide window, the surrounding buildings prevented natural light from getting into their home.

 

Discussions with Espaciel and our solution

Having discussed this problem of lack of brightness via photos, emails and telephone calls, Raymond was interested in installing light reflectors at his flat. But before ordering the product, he wanted to seek the agreement of the co-owners’ association.

 

Co-owners’ association agreement

Raymond attended a meeting of his co-owners’ association a few days after our initial discussions. He had prepared a comprehensive file setting out his plans for the installation of light reflectors. We also advised him on the benefits he should be highlighting.

>> What aspects should be presented to make sure the light reflector is given the go-ahead by the co-owners’ association?

Guaranteed discretion: The light reflector is very discreet It is slim (4 mm reflecting surface + 4 cm fastenings) and light and the fixing systems are unobtrusive.

Aesthetic integration: Fixed on your outside window sill or to a balcony railing, the Espaciel reflector blends seamlessly into your home because its surface reflects the sky. “You only realise it’s there because of the effect it has”, as one of our customers previously described it. The reflector’s fastenings can also be painted to match the colours of the windows and the rest of the building.

Private space: The light reflector is installed in your own home, entirely within your private space. It tilts towards the interior of your rooms and is does not extend beyond your flat. It reflects 100% of the light it captures into your home, without being dazzling: either for you, or your neighbours.

A short time later, Raymond contacted us again to thank us: the co-owners’ association had given him the green light.

 
fixation extérieure d'un réflecteur de fenêtre
More light in the kitchen

The exterior reflector is installed using an adjustable bar which extends and is supported by the window frame. This model is suitable for most windows with the proviso that the wall is at least 7 cm thick to ensure the bar ends are securely supported (the ends are 6 cm wide). This mounting system proved unsuitable for Raymond and Claudine’s kitchen window since the wall thickness was only 3 cm. So we suggested an alternative fastening solution: to fix the reflector directly into the frame below the window, using 2 small screws in the metal flashing.

 

More light in the living room

facade appartement

For people with bay windows or French windows, we usually recommend the garden reflector.  Allowing passage, easy to install, height adjustable and tilting, this model is ideal for openings of this type.

However there were two factors that made it difficult to install the garden reflector at Claudine and Raymond’s flat:

  • The balcony of the floor above jutted out over their bay window by more than a metre (see photo). Unlike the situation described in the previous article concerning the “sunshade balcony” with the railing located directly below the balcony above, this time the bay window was set too far back. The reflector needs to be exposed to the sky in order to fully capture the daylight.
  • The couple live on the ground floor and their terrace leads directly out onto the street. It would therefore not have been possible to install the garden reflector on this public space.

Having observed that sunlight arrived on the left upright of the window frame for most of the day (south-west facing), we suggested installing a vertical exterior reflector, with a wall fastening. The suns rays are thus reflected, drawing light deep into the living area.

>> Should the reflector be mounted vertically or horizontally?

Both options are possible. Here is what we recommend:

  • Horizontal: In the majority of cases, we recommend the horizontal installation of light reflectors since this enhances the natural light within a room, whether the sun is shining or not. When the reflector is fixed horizontally, every window receives the maximum possible amount of daylight captured and reflected, with or without the sun.
  • Vertical: The vertical installation of light reflectors is possible provided the suns rays fall directly onto it. If this is the case, the rays are redirected into the heart of the room, forming a broad beam of natural light. However, without direct sunlight, a vertical arrangement brings very little additional brightness.

avant apres salon lumière rez-de-chaussée

Order and installation

Having listened to our advice, Raymond and Claudine ordered two reflectors: an 80-cm exterior reflector with a horizontal wall mounting for their kitchen window and a custom-made 120 x 15-cm exterior reflector with a vertical wall mounting for the bay window in their living room.

>> Order my Light Reflector

The wall reflector is similar to the exterior reflector but the mounting system is different. We designed this new wall-fixing kit to allow customers to attach the light reflector directly to the wall. It is highly recommended in layouts like this, where the adjustable bar cannot be installed.

Raymond installed both reflectors himself, a process he found to be quick and easy.

 

After-installation result

avant apres lumière rez-de-chaussée

The result was immediate: the walls, ceiling and entire room became instantly brighter, with no need to switch the lights on. Very impressed with the product’s performance, Raymond told us that he had invited all his neighbours round to see for themselves. What’s more, he can’t understand why everyone in Tournai hasn’t had light reflectors installed yet! I’m delighted to have helped make Claudine and Raymond’s flat a more comfortable environment by bringing in more natural light.

Thank you for sharing this experience with us Lucy, and thanks to Claudine and Raymond for their photos! If you too would like to share you story, write to us at espaciel@espaciel.com and we will be delighted to tell it here!

Is your home on the ground floor and/or lacking in natural light? Contact us and the Espaciel team will be delighted to offer you personalised advice:

>> Get a Free Personalized Advice

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