Sunday, 21 April 2013

Letting the light in (adding a skylight)

I hated the dark staircase area that our front door leads to. It looked so uninviting to come home and look at that dark corner when we walked through the front door. Worst of all, the previous owners had painted the back wall in dark purple so it looked worse than it had to be. I convinced Chris that we needed a skylight above the dark depressing stairs. Skylights are definitely not a job for DIY'ers - this is one for the professionals. There is a lot of climbing up ladders on both the interior side and exterior side of the house to cut the hole in so there is a strong risk of serious injury (especially with ladders balancing on stairs). Also a leaky skylight could ruin your carpet, damage the plasterboard in the ceiling, ruin your ceiling insulation etc.

I got a guy out for a quote and we decided on a 400x400mm square shaped skylight. While I was waiting for him to come back to install it, I painted over the ugly dark purple wall with a light blue paint that is subtly metallic. You can't tell in the photo, but it has a gentle sparkle on the paint surface when light shines on it. You can sort of see it in the last photo. I'll put up some close-ups when we've finished the stairway.

The lower 30cm (one foot) of the blue wall still has the dark purple because I am going to add moulding and paint that part white. We also painted the ceiling and other wall in "buttery white" by Resene for a warmer look. Its much easier to paint the ceiling before adding the skylight rather than painting afterwards and having to tape it up and risk getting paint splatters on it.

Here is the 'before' photo taken with no flash. This photo was taken just before the skylight guy cut the hole in the metal roof. On the top right you can see the dark square where he has cut the 400x400mm hole in the ceiling plasterboard, but hasn't yet cut the roof hole.


The 'after' photo was again taken without the flash on. It was a semi-sunny/cloudy day but the difference is very noticeable. You can clearly see light in the previously dark back corners, and there is light reflecting off the blue wall. Notice the shadow under that hanging ceiling light? I'm very pleased with the final result and I'm really glad that we got this done. I think it adds value to the house because people no longer walk in and look at a dark corner.

Here is a close-up of the skylight itself:

There is a half metre gap between the ceiling and the roof so we had to add a tubular style skylight with reflective silver paper down the half metre shaft and a perspex diffuser is placed over the ceiling hole to hide the reflective paper. The perspex diffuser also prevents some heat loss compared to a regular single-glazed skylight (a double glazed skylight would be better still).

Here is the view looking up from the front after we placed the mirror back on the wall.

The next steps will be pulling up the dark carpet and adding timber flooring to the stairs, replacing the black metal hand rail with timber hand rails, adding the moulding along the bottom of the stairs and finally hanging up our framed wedding photos and other photos on the blue feature wall. :)


  1. Such corner of the house really deserves some tending, unless a scary nook is something you find appealing. :P The skylight definitely gave it a lift by letting the natural light go inside the space. I’m glad you didn't opt for a window instead, by the way. I think it would go way overboard the 'welcoming' criteria. -->Mariam

    1. We thought a window would be really hard to clean above the stairs. We live close to the beach which means we get a lot of sand and salty rain water on our windows so it wouldn't look good for long :)

  2. Windows would be an option, but I'd go for a skylight too. Positioning your new skylight there will definitely brighten up your staircase, especially at night. What's nice is that you'll be able to see the stars while inside your house, since you can see a lot of those in your area. :) Chantay Smithingell

    1. You're right - we get a wonderful view of the stars and moon in this area. The sky is surprisingly bright at night during a full moon, so the skylight gets the moonlight as well as the sun :)