We met digital content creator and charity ambassador Sally, “helped” by her cat Beryl, in her gorgeous detached house in the English countryside in Surrey. Sally, her husband Gav, their three sons, dog and cat live in a beautiful cottage with lots of outdoor space for football, dens and four chickens (all named Barbara). They’re an active, outdoorsy family who love embracing nature, from scuba diving to surfing Cornwall’s finest beaches.
Over the years they have built two extensions to their house. In the most recent extension project, Sally chose to illuminate the end of her gorgeous country kitchen/diner with a Vario by VELUX bespoke rectangular rooflight, so we went to visit her for a cuppa and a lovely chat about her impressions and experience on the importance of daylight.
Sally, what a bright and stunning space you have in here. Could you please tell us more about your extension project?
"We love this house; it has plenty of space and we absolutely love the country lifestyle. We bought a house 12 years ago and that time it was much smaller. The first big extension we did was 9 years ago, but we didn't quite get what we wanted as the building restrictions at the time were very strict.
Both of us work from home and we needed to change the layout to have a proper workspace and as a consequence a better work-life balance, so the options were either to move or extend the house to get the flow we wanted.
We got a brilliant architect on board who managed to push our limits to the max, extending the kitchen so we could have our dining table in here and therefore get this extra study room which really makes the house flow. The key thing for us was to bring the light in. A wall of glass made perfect sense, but as the extension has a flat roof, we also started to think about what was above. In a room like this, I think the roof should be seen as the fifth wall.”
Your original plan was to put a glass lantern in the extension. What made you change your mind and choose a flat glass rooflight instead?
“Initially we thought we would put a glass lantern in like everybody else and it didn’t even occur to me that I could have anything else until I was invited to a rooflight launch event by Vario by VELUX. At the event, I completely fell in love with the idea of having a rooflight in my house. I got all the information and, after I realised that even a modern flat rooflight comes with an upstand and you also get the height of the roof built in, which would also give the room the height we wanted,and that the cost would be less than having a lantern of the same size and with no breaks in the glass, choosing a flat glass rooflight was a no-brainer!
I’m so pleased that we got the best of the both worlds: a clear view of the sky and the height; it’s so lovely, it just blows me away! It was also important for us that we could design the size of the glass, make our own build and our own design. The fact that the rooflight is bespoke was just brilliant because it meant that we could have exactly the right window solution to fit in our space. I’m also very pleased we went flat rooflight as most of the upstairs windows overlook the extension so a lantern would had been too high and spoiled the view from our bedroom.”
What do you love most about owning a bespoke rooflight?
“It’s so cool and yet functional. Rooflights brings so much more light in than you would get from a normal side window and the fact is that daylight does make you feel better, especially in winter.
I was a bit concerned that with the extension the kitchen would be dark, as the windows were moving even further away, but with the rooflight you get all this lovely daylight flooding in which helps the kitchen too, even though that wasn’t part of the renovation project. The rooflight lets in so much more light than a normal window, I never worry about it being dark.
We spend so much time inside in the UK so having more day light inside gives clear health benefits and positively affects your mood. A rooflight is like a constant picture which is always moving; you’ll never get bored of it. You may see planes flying by, rain, blue sky, clouds and I can’t wait for when it snows!
It’s almost like bringing fresh air into the house. We also put dimmable spotlights around the rooflight so when it’s dark, the warm light is reflected through the rooflight to the rooms upstairs. It feels so cosy. This space has become my favourite place in the house!”
You mentioned you enjoyed designing your own rooflight, could you please give us some examples.
“Yes! Ordering windows could be boring but I had so much fun with the online configurator tool; it’s just brilliant! I loved using the configurator to spin around and try out different options, in the end we went with a static rectangular flat window as I loved the simplicity but I experimented with round windows, multiple joined panels, all sorts.
With the rooflight configurator online tool, you can stretch and shrink your window and it automatically stretches and shrinks the price, so you can control your design and your budget at the same time. In our case, I measured our dining room table and ordered a slightly bigger rooflight.
On top of that, the customer service was excellent, there is always a backup call from Vario by VELUX to make sure you are ordering the right window, they hold your hand through the whole thing and the whole process of designing and ordering was made fun and easy.
They helped me with things like setting the window at a slight angle, so the rain just runs off and we don’t end up with a swimming pool situation on the roof! It’s a really hands on, personal service from a small team, but backed by a big name like VELUX so you know you can really trust them. It’s like the gold standard of roof windows.”
How did you perceive the installation process of the rooflight?
“The process was really simple, easy and quick. Our constructor was provided with all the information they needed to know, in order to put the rooflight in.Our bespoke rooflight was delivered in 6 weeks and we rented a small crane for a day to lift it in.The crane was literally tiny, it fitted through our side gate. Then it was simply a matter of dropping it into the opening and letting the builders do their thing to seal it in.
I have to admit, I was a bit nervous on the installation day as the dog insisted on sitting under the opening and it was very windy, but it all went very well. That moment when the hardboard comes off and you get your first glimpse of the sky above, it’s just magic.”
Oh, I’m very pleased to hear you are so happy with the end result. Do you think changing your house has improved your everyday life?
“Extending the house, and how we use it, has changed the way we live, the way we work and the way we relax. Having an extension, an extra room, the flow and the light we wanted has definitely increased the value of the house but also the saleability of the house. How many older properties have flat roof extensions and haven’t put in a rooflight? There must be loads and they’re definitely missing a trick. We wanted to build personality and I believe that with the extension and bespoke rooflight we got exactly what we wanted. With more daylight and space, I feel more active, I feel more awake, I feel fresher, I get things done. It has definitely changed the way we live.”
Thank you Sally for having us and for sharing your enthusiasm and positive feedback. We’ll have our fingers crossed for that first snow!