Last year, I was approached at a family barbecue by a friend of a friend who had a problem. The problem was she said, that it was incredibly hard getting her family going in the morning and that breakfast was simply a form of extended torment. After much discussion back and forth it did not take long to define the primary problem was most likely a lack of morning sun (by the way, we did discuss the quality of the coffee on offer – it was apparently good — and then again we had to consider the kids too!). It turned out the breakfast area was in the middle of the house without a window or skylight in near sight and, apart from the clock, it was hard to tell what time of day it was.
Morning light is one of the most fundamental, and in my opinion most overlooked, elements of a home and a lifestyle. Now with our knowledge of daylight and our circadian rhythms, it is a no-brainer to ensure that we have some sun on the breakfast table! The morning light will literally wake you and your family up and get you going!
It is a common issue with many houses I have visited over the years having poorly located breakfast areas. It has always surprised me to see how many families have spent their good lives having breakfast (arguably the most important meal of the day) in dark and depressing spaces.
In fact, when designing a house, well before I worry about the breakfast table styling and accessories (for example what type of bowl to have your cornflakes out of), I make sure that there is going to be some sun on the breakfast table. Imagine how much more of a happy and productive day you and your family are going to have when you have enjoyed the twinkle of some winter sun off your spoon of strawberries! And knowing you are going to have some morning sun, imagine then what styling you could enjoy – is it going to be Scandinavian blonde timber with a navy cloth, or bright daisy yellow napkins against a pure white slat bench? The inspiration for the space and the experience is so much greater because the fundamental is right, and in this case it is the capturing of morning light.
So, how to make immediate change? Well, first of all, find out where the morning sun is coming into your home. Seek it out and adjust your planning; sometimes it means changing rooms to suit a breakfast table and chairs catching the sun. Never be afraid of light as it is always better to take it away with well-placed blinds or screens than not have it at all – particularly in winter.
Once you have located the morning sun in your home, freshen up the space with lighter and brighter colours to reflect the light and make it a morning place – whites, yellows, light coloured timbers – it does not have to be the whole room – it can just be the breakfast area. Once you have brightened the space consider a large mirror. They can be a great addition if placed in such a way to reflect the outside in – whether it is a view, the garden, a tree or even the sky. Remember that the early morning light is quite horizontal, particularly in winter, so a mirror can literally bring the morning into a space and all the beautiful light reflections are an added bonus.
In terms of a renovation, do all of the above and literally design around the morning light – include windows and skylights that are designed to capture and funnel light into your breakfast space. Good quality skylights these days are so much more available and better priced than in the past. Some even include electric sun blinds and automatically close when they sense rain. Give priority to your place of breakfast in your design so that it is located on the edge of your house, preferably near an outdoor area, so on those perfect mornings you can easily spill outside. Consider as well the convenience of its location as for many of us, breakfast can be a bit of a rush.
At the start of the day, there is nothing more important than making sure that you get your family’s body clocks and appetites going with some sun on your breakfast table. With some clever design and planning, invite that morning to breakfast!