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How to Fill your Small Space with Natural Light: An Interview with Ryan Perkons.

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

We sat down with Ryan, a young Calgary-based Architectural Technologist, in a cozy coffee shop blocks down from his vibrant downtown condo, to chat about the newest trends in home design and developments. Wearing a cozy oversized grey sweater and drinking a black coffee, we chatted about his trip to Nova Scotia (and all the lobster he bagged up at the airport on his return) before diving into one of the biggest design challenges of the moment: How to get as much natural light with the smallest standard square footage we’ve seen so far.

Architects and home design professionals are faced with the increased challenges of land that is available for building becoming smaller and smaller, resulting in equally smaller footprints for homes. This has influenced the trends of lane homes, in-fills and other ‘trendy’ skinny homes, but with property boundary setbacks getting closer to each other, the ability to put in windows (and natural light in turn) has become a struggle. Here are Ryan’s tips for building natural light into your small spaces:


“We try to have as much internal glass as possible to just try and let the light pass through as far as possible. In a skinny or narrow home, transferring the light around can be the most impactful design choice” Ryan noted about the overall strategy of bringing more natural light into these smaller lane homes in the most recent development he’s been working on.

We asked him what the best choices for including natural light in small spaces (like small homes, closed off living spaces or bathrooms) and these are Ryan’s biggest recommendations:

Living Large and Luxurious Project, see more of this project here. See the transom window between the master bedroom and the ensuite, allowing for no additional windows in the bathroom and still being flooded with natural light.

“Add transom windows”, like glass panels or railings, “In as many places as possible to utilize the light you do have coming in” he says excitedly, as we flipped through photos of some of his favorite projects featuring a glassed off office in the front of the home where the large living room casement windows flooded through the frosted transom window wall, filling the office with a natural glow. “But this doesn’t solve getting the most out of your windows, for that” he says, “I’d recommend using multi-purpose, large glass features like a fully opening sliding glass door at the back of the home” he said full of inspiration. These large glass features, like a Kolbe Lift & Slide door meeting up with a 90 degree corner, allow for the living room to be an indoor / outdoor space while utilizing the small space through blending the windows and doors and using every inch of wall space.

A Voice in the Wilderness Project, see more of this project here. Another option for transom windows.

Cliffhanger Project, see more of this project here. Lift & Slide configuration example on a 90 degree connection.

Cliffhanger Project, see more of this project here. Lift & Slide configuration example on a 90 degree connection.

“The other really popular and smart choice for getting the most out of your small space is using skinny stacking windows” said Ryan, before taking a sip from the small black cup, “these stacking windows [seen below] create a really contemporary look and can take in more light, usually at a lower cost than one huge window!”. The other benefit, Ryan shares, is that these stacking windows can be placed intentionally to never be “blocked by furniture pieces, like the living room couch.” These windows can be placed above standard couch height to still allow for windows in these spaces but “act more like an art piece than a window and bring in more light because they are placed higher up and are unobstructed.”

Green Thumb Project, view more of this project here.

Green Thumb Project, view more of this project here. Ex. Vertical stacking windows that are placed at the back of the couch, allowing for a nearly unobstructed view of the entire window.

The C-House Project, see more of this project here. Ex. A horizontal stacking window placed behind the dinning room table, allowing for more light along the skinny side of the home without losing the entire wall.

Ryan’s other favorite design choice for increasing natural light is raising the ceiling in the living room, dining room or kitchen, allowing the windows to have an extra panel at the top. These ‘tall’ windows utilize the extra ceiling height and can drape light throughout the rest of the home without having to add more windows in other spaces.

Ryan noted, as he finished his cup of coffee, that his favorite Kolbe product for getting the most out of your windows is “hands down the corner windows!” We swiped through photos of the Evergreen Home on Mercer Island (as this is the most corner window in one project we’ve ever done), “yes, see how the corners are now working for the home to bring in more light! It’s almost like getting 2 windows out of a space that would be otherwise useless!”

Evergreen Project, by Kolbe Gallery Seattle. View more of this project here.

Evergreen Project, by Kolbe Gallery Seattle. View more of this project here.

As we finished up our coffee and the rain outside broke, Ryan noted that “small spaces can have their challenges, but by focusing on pulling light from other places, small spaces can feel like the perfect blend between airy and cozy.”


Have a small space you want to brighten up? Get in touch with the Kolbe Gallery Pacific Northwest team to chat about all our innovative solutions to bringing you the light your design deserves.

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