A New Study Shows the Power of Natural Light

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We all have an intuition that natural light and views of the outdoors have a positive effect on how people feel in their homes. But how much does daylight really affect happiness? Marvin commissioned a recent survey of more than 1,000 homeowners and industry professionals in the United States to find out—and it turns out to be a lot more than even the company expected.

We spoke with Christine Marvin—chief marketing and experience officer at the Minnesota-based, family-owned business—who shared some insights from her team’s research.

A home in rural Michigan embodies the findings from Marvin’s Shining a Light on Happiness and Well-Being study. “Hilltop Farm is a special project, and I love how the homeowners have integrated windows and doors from the Elevate and Essential collections into the home,” says Christine Marvin, chief marketing and experience officer at Marvin. “Clearly the connection to the land—the stunning rural surroundings—inspired the homeowners to purchase the farm.”

Your study, Shining a Light on Happiness and Well-Being, uncovered some surprising insights into how homes are viewed. What were some of the more unexpected things you learned?

One finding that I was really intrigued by was that 96 percent of homeowners say the home in which they live is an important contributor to their state of happiness—only one percentage point behind the overall health of their family. This shows just how many people value their homes, and that’s been especially true since the onset of the pandemic. So, when you think about the home and well-being, it’s clear that the two do more than intersect. They are inextricably connected to each other.

“Making the landscape a central piece of the home itself welcomes nature inside and strengthens the sense of well-being through views of nature,” says Marvin. “I think about how the home is positioned on the site, too, and I can tell the homeowners were very intentional about the placement of windows and doors because they wanted to capture as much natural light as possible.”

Another finding from the survey that I was struck by was that nearly 70 percent of homeowners and more than 80 percent of trade professionals agree that access to natural light is a top contributor to one’s feeling of well-being at home. More than ever, we’re attuned to how we feel in our spaces, and the rooms where there’s more natural light tend to have their own gravitational pull. We’re drawn to natural light. It’s biological. Knowing that tells us just how important it is to harness natural light for your home, as it supports circadian rhythms and a positive outlook.

And, finally, I found it fascinating that 9 in 10 people say outdoor views are an important factor in making a home feel happy. Immersing yourself in nature can be so calming. Why not bring as much of that connection to the outdoors as possible? This is where we can maximize views and open up spaces so people can connect more easily to the outdoors, which supports happiness and well-being.

Marvin adds, “It can get pretty dark during the winter in Michigan, so maximizing access to daylight is important, and they’ve done that in Hilltop Farm. You can see, too, that the modern living space inside the home welcomes many uninterrupted.” views, giving the home so much positive energy.”

How has your company incorporated these findings into its ethos?

Marvin has taken this research and used it to inform the way we innovate and continue to evolve our products. We don’t simply ask ourselves how we can make the best windows and doors. We ask, how do people want to live in their homes? And how can Marvin contribute authentically, helping people live better? Windows and doors—light, air, and views—can contribute to well-being, and this is embedded in our human-centered design approach to product innovation. We think about so much more than the products we make; we’re thinking about the environments where they’ll be installed and the people whose lives they’ll affect. Our aim is to make a positive impact on well-being and to ultimately promote happier, healthier living.

“I found it fascinating that 9 in 10 people say outdoor views are an important factor in making a home feel happy. Immersing yourself in nature can be so calming.”

The conversation about windows and doors has changed somewhat, right in line with the increased attention to health and well-being. Now when we talk to consumers about new offerings like the Marvin Skycove or Awaken Skylight, it inevitably becomes a conversation about lifestyle and how we want to feel in our homes. We talk about renovation in the home, and it so quickly becomes a conversation about our values, what we envision for ourselves and for our families.

“A connection to nature and the well-being it provides takes me right back to the survey we conducted,” says Marvin. “We found that 9 in 10 people say outdoor views are an important factor in making a home feel happy, and that’s clearly manifested at Hilltop Farm.”

Marvin will continue to explore what’s possible as we embrace this responsibility to craft solutions for better living within the home. For Marvin, this means: How can we harness light, air, and views in new ways to provide a better experience in spaces, all while supporting social, emotional, and physical health? Living amid the pandemic, and when we one day emerge from the pandemic, there will be new ways of living that are here to say—with well-being in the home as an important one.

“How can we harness light, air, and views in new ways to provide a better experience in spaces, all while supporting social, emotional, and physical health?”

“When I think about how the homeowners addressed the challenge of cloudy weather, I’m reminded of how crucial light, air, and views are, and I know the homeowners kept this top of mind,” Marvin says. “Michigan is one of the cloudiest states in the country, so making the most of available sunlight is key.”

Has your own thinking about home design changed as a result of the study?

Knowing that, of all the factors that contribute to well-being, integrating natural light into the home is so critical made me reflect on all the ways I engage with it throughout the day in my own space. Whether or not you’re aware of the difference it makes, natural light has a major impact on your life. I was struck by another finding from the survey that nearly 70 percent of homeowners and more than 80 percent of trade professionals agree that access to natural light is a top contributor to one’s sense of well-being at home. More than ever, we’re attuned to how we feel in our spaces, and the rooms where there’s more natural light tend to have their own gravitational pull.

“The owners of Hilltop Farm captured natural light with eight-foot-tall patio doors and a configuration of large windows,” says Marvin. “Capitalizing on those views of nature and harnessing the most possible light supports overall well-being and definitely makes for happier, healthier living.”

Take sleep, for example. This is an interesting way to think about our relationship to natural light, which governs our circadian rhythms. Natural light is so important for regulating schedules and feeling awake in the morning. We found that 61 percent of homeowners struggle to wake up when it’s still dark outside, and 81 percent agree that they feel more rested when they wake up with natural light gradually coming through their windows or doors. Thinking about the importance of sleep from a well-being perspective, and its interplay with natural light, I see just how much it matters to be intentional when designing the spaces in your home.

I found it so intriguing to learn that our happiness and well-being is bound up in our homes. Additionally, the more interaction we can have with natural elements—like light, air, and views of the outdoors—the happier we tend to be.

Project Credits:

Architecture: Hygge Architects

Learn more about Marvin’s innovative solutions for the home at marvin.com.