Windowless backs

“We are passionate about mews and love sharing our experience and knowledge of mews so if you are thinking of creating a ‘grand design’ do call us. We can advise not only on the best use of light but also on what design will make the most commercial sense when you come to sell or let.”

Architects are creating dramatic interiors in mews houses in response to one of their design quirks – they very rarely have windows at the back.

Mews houses were built at the bottom of the garden of big houses for horses and servants. The aristocratic residents did not want to be overlooked by their menials, however, so the garden wall of the mews would be windowless.

Unaltered mews houses often feel a bit dark and oppressive at the back, but architects love a challenge and at Lurot Brand we have worked with many who have been developing clever ways of bringing light to all areas and creating dramatic and interesting spaces in the process.

A popular way of allowing light to flood in is to move the staircase to the back of the house and place a skylight over it. Glass stairs and bannisters allow the light to percolate through to the ground, and mirrors strategically placed behind double the light getting through.

If there is enough space, a ground-to-roof glass atrium with a skylight at the top not only allows light in but forms an impressive internal space. One such atrium has a waterfall on the back wall that is not only incredibly cool to look at but the noise of running water creates a peaceful vibe. Some skylights are retractable to bring fresh air in as well.

Going open plan helps light circulate, but where walls are unavoidable installing strip windows just under the ceiling allows light to flow without compromising privacy.

The latest lighting technology can both light up those dark areas and create lighting schemes that can be changed at the press of a button on
your smartphone. 

Smart bulbs such as Philips’ Hue or Elgato’s Avea can be controlled by your iPhone to pump out any one of 16 million colours including a warm white, at any power level. They can even talk to each other to create exactly the right effect.

Using these new lights enables non-habitable rooms such as bathrooms, gyms and media rooms to be located at the ‘dark’ back half of the house, so the living rooms and bedrooms can benefit from the windows with their natural light and interesting views over the mews.