Design your home to invite sunshine and fresh, spring air inside

28 Platform 5 Architects Backwater

As the days (finally!) begin to lengthen, thoughts are drawn towards the promise of spring, sunshine, and fresh warm air. New TV series, Alan Cumming’s Paradise Homes celebrates inspiring architecture and daylight within homes. Most of the beautiful properties featured on the show have which been designed to welcome that feeling of spring daylight and fresh air inside, blurring the boundaries between indoors and outdoors. 

Alan Cumming’s Paradise Homes airs on Mondays at 9pm on HGTV and streams on discovery+. An enchanting, fantasy-filled property series, we see some incredible homes around the world which all champion the beauty of natural light. Fuelled by his secret passion for architecture, Scottish big-screen star, Alan Cumming, is let loose inside eleven unique properties. He meets the inspiring creators who have designed and constructed the home of their dreams. 

From a glass-fronted waterside retreat on a tiny Swedish island, to a family home built above a cave in Sicily lit by roof windows, a unique, sustainable water fronted home on the Norfolk Broads and a glasshouse on the Sound of Mull in Scotland – they were all designed to embrace fresh air and daylight. 

6 Platform 5 Architects Backwater

Norfolk ...  

In episode 1, Alan kicks off the TV series by taking to the water of the Norfolk Broads where he meets a family whose paradise home is in a beautifully serene setting by the water.  

This unique, sustainable water fronted home was designed by its owner, renowned architect, Patrick Michell, who founded Platform 5 Architects. The home is fitting of its beautiful wetland setting, where Patrick’s children can run smoothly between indoors and outdoors, making their way out onto the water. 

The house is arranged as three low rise bays, whose pitched roofs echo the working boat sheds typically found on the Broads. Timber framed, a handful of steel beams support the large, glazed openings. The contemporary home consists of a series of simple living spaces; orientated to face the waterfront. A clean, calming interior framing the views over the water and the vibrant green woodland. Daylight and fresh air are integral to the design.  

Patrick wanted a light-filled space and clever use of glazing allows a controlled light, to avoid getting overheated in summer. An abundance of south facing glazing allows for a limited reliance on artificial lighting, while the deep eaves negate overheating during the summer. They installed a Velux roof window over the kitchen island and also used them in the 1.5 stories-tall hall which helps to draw air through the house and flush out the hot air in summer. This keeps the house naturally nice and cool. 



On a journey back to his rugged roots in the Scottish Highlands, Alan experiences an extraordinary hidden getaway living in harmony within this ancient land, complete with 360 views and golden eagles circling.   

Architect Roderick James and his wife Amanda created their own paradise in a landscape filled with challenges. Eagle Rock is a design masterpiece hiding in plain sight – its mossy roof and low-lying aspect give the impression it is embedded into the hilltop, while its unique elliptical shape provides panoramic views across the Sound of Mull. This unique fairy tale of a building, perched on a lonely hilltop, is a very modern take on the traditional Scottish broch.     

Roderick and Amanda created a stunning living room with commanding views of the coastline, that flow seamlessly into the kitchen and dining area. With exposed beams and visible bolts, this new building has an old energy to it. The textural design is important - joists in the ceiling, textured plaster on the walls, rather than smoothing it off, mean that the daylight reflects off it in an interesting way. Roderick chose to install Velux roof windows as they give up to three times more daylight than a traditional window, providing a lovely light and shadow moving across the room each day.     


“The outstanding location needed a design that maximised the 360-degree views and dramatic vistas in all directions along the Sound of Mull,” explained Roderick. “Not one of the rooms has a right angle in them, which softens all the areas and rooms within the house. We designed wide overhanging eaves to restrict summer glare while still allowing maximum solar gain in winter for both heat and light. In the main living room, rather than the high glazed gables which you so often see, and which allow irritating glare - we used large Velux roof windows which provide an ever-changing, lovely light quality in all seasons without any glare.” 



Alan ventures to the edge of the Baltic Sea to meet a family who has created an island getaway home made up of open and airy, naturalistic design on a tiny Swedish island, evoking curiosity and melting indoor and outdoor together.   

Danish Majken Ronne and her Swedish husband, Emanuel Gavert, have built. A self-sustained space to recharge and build up collective creative moments  

‘Goda’ is an island hideout on Svartsö, Sweden, a tiny island two hours’ boat ride from Stockholm with a permanent population of just 80 people. This island hideout has been carefully designed to create a village feel with different spaces inviting you to interact with nature. The distribution of spaces forces you to experience nature very directly. If you leave the dining area to go sleep, you cross the land, to engage with the nature physically.  


The island hideout consists of the main house, a guest house (‘Mini Goda’), a workshop, a sauna, a greenhouse, an Orangerie, hot tub, children’s playhouse, vegetable garden and a pontoon for swimming. The couple’s core design principles for their dream home build were to build as sustainably as possible. 

The couple wanted to create a feeling and interplay with nature. Every window invites you to take a second look. The roof windows never stop surprising the family. Sleeping under the stars is never, ever the same experience, “You never sleep under the same sky twice”, explains Majken. 



Alan travels to a traditional Sicilian family home built above an ancient cave.  A traditional farmhouse from the early 19th century, it is made entirely out of stone and is tucked away amongst the copse of citrus trees, high in the Sicilian hills. It has some very strong roots that go back in time in both a literal and personal sense, as Mark’s family lived on the site for three generations.  

Sicilian homeowner and architect Mark Cannata’s roots really do run deep in the Sicilian hills and after his wife sadly passed away, Mark found that renovating this centuries-old barn helped him to plan for the future.  

As a first step, he set in motion plans to reinvigorate a rundown house a stone’s throw from his family. His goal was to achieve a modern interior, whilst keeping the outside of the house as untouched as possible.  

Mark has created a comfortable, practical family home that includes copious amounts of natural light, thanks to the clever use of eight Velux roof windows fitted in the high ceilings. Using a mix of simple materials, he has been able to create the perfect spot for himself and daughter Mia, to enjoy this stunning Sicilian setting. 

Initially, the 200-year-old house only had three small windows which didn’t let in a lot of light, and Mark didn’t want to alter the original exterior walls; instead, Mark decided to add eight windows to the roof, solving his lighting conundrum beautifully. Mark’s smart lighting solution was to create double height, angled light wells which let light bounce off the bright white walls to the downstairs living spaces. The white walls and clean lines are a minimalist dream, and a clever way to make a small space seem feel bigger. Mark has worked wonders with this small space, making sure to maximise every square inch for family life. 

Alan Cumming’s Paradise Homes, Mondays at 9pm on HGTV and available to stream on discovery+ 

To watch Alan visiting some of the world’s most unique and remote ‘paradise’ properties in stunning new TV series, click here:  

Norfolk: Episode 1  - ​mp4 icon Alan Cumming's Paradise Homes S1 Ep.1.mp4 
Sweden: Episode 2  - ​mp4 icon Alan Cummings Paradise Homes S1 Ep.2.mp4 
Scotland: Episode 3  - ​mp4 icon Alan Cummings Paradise Homes S1 Ep.3.mp4 
Sicily: Episode 4 - ​mp4 icon Alan Cummings Paradise Homes S1 Ep.4.mp4 



About the VELUX Group 

VELUX roof windows have been bringing daylight and fresh air into peoples’ homes around the world for more than 80 years, creating better living environments. We offer a range of products including roof windows and modular skylights, decorative blinds, sun screening products, and roller shutters, as well as installation and smart home solutions. They help create bright, healthy, and energy-efficient places for people who live, work, learn, and play under the roof. We work globally – with sales and manufacturing operations in 37 countries and around 11,700 employees worldwide. The VELUX Group is owned by VKR Holding A/S, a limited company wholly owned by non-profit, charitable foundations (THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS) and family. In 2022, the VELUX Group had a total revenue of EUR 2.99 billion, VKR Holding had a total revenue of EUR 4.29 billion, and THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS donated EUR 181 million in charitable grants.

For more information about the VELUX Group, visit velux.com

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