Medium light: Medium light is found in an unobstructed northern window or a diffused eastern window - or pulled back 2-6 feet from a bright window. Medium light spots might receive less than an hour of direct light throughout the day.
Calathea varieties - or prayer plants - do very well in medium light. Their thin leaves are sensitive to too much direct sun. If calathea are receiving too much light, you might see sunburn on its leaves. Sunburn usually shows up in the middle of a plant’s leaf near the center vein. Calatheas often crisp up around the edges for other reasons - but sunburn usually shows up toward the center of the leaf.
Bright Indirect Light: This is the sweet spot for most houseplants. Bright indirect light has 1-3 hours of direct light, and ambient light for the remainder of the day. Eastern windows provide bright indirect light - with direct light hitting the space in the morning. Western windows, that cast direct light in the afternoon, often cast stronger hotter light. Succulents and hoya are ideally situated close to Western windows. The intense afternoon sun will help your succulents and hoya bloom.
Eastern light is ideal for most foliage houseplants. Gentle morning sun and bright indirect light throughout the day is perfect for philodendron, dracaenas, pathos, anthuriums, and other foliage plants.
Plants that are more sensitive to direct light may show signs of stress in a Western window - including physical sunburn. Sunburned leaves dry and brown in the center of the leaf (often near the center vein). This cosmetic damage is permanent, but a plant can recover once placed in a lower light spot in your home.
Direct Light: Southern windows will offer direct light for most of the day. Soft-leaved tropicals are ill- suited for this level of intense sun. Hearty succulents and cacti can withstand this kind of lighting - if they are introduced to it gently. I recommend placing your high-light plants near a Southern window for a few hours at a time for a period of 1-2 weeks before keeping them in high-light full time. This allows the plant to gradually transition and helps avoid burning.
You can have a variety of beautiful tropicals - even if you are working with Southern windows. A half-curtain or sheer curtain over the window can curb the intense light of a Southern window and make it manageable for a variety of houseplants.