The correct choice and placement of lights in any space is always easiest if planned ahead and thoughtfully considered. Our talented team have put together some advice to ensure you can maximise the lighting potential of your next project.
Make a Lighting Plan
A lighting plan doesn’t need to be difficult and is most easily achieved by using existing floor plans and elevations! Focus specifically on what activities take place in each room (eating, relaxing, working), key features of a room you want to highlight and what architectural boundaries you may need to take into account. Consider style, scale, output, colour of bulbs and even temperature of lights before making any purchases.
Use a key to differentiate between different types of light such as pendants, down lights, and spots. Be very specific with location when you know there is no ceiling space to make adjustments. At this stage it’s important to work out exactly where significant furniture pieces such as dining tables are being placed so that the lights can be placed accordingly on the plan.
Layer Your Lighting
Take a layered approach to lighting with different light sources across different levels to create ambiance and interest in a room. Use lighting to make the most of a room’s size and shape. Up-lighting makes a room feel larger, low hung pendants create an illusion of height, while clusters of lighting make large rooms seem cosier. Use your elevations on your plan to thoughtfully specify the placement of any wall mounted lights.
Lighting Needs to Be Purposeful
This is perhaps the most important aspect of lighting. You need to consider what tasks are being undertaken in each room, and exactly where that task will take place. The correct lights should be placed at those points, irrespective of its relationship to the ceiling.
Cooking requires more concentrated lighting so bright focused light above workstations should be combined with adjustable spotlights or recessed lighting in cabinets and above stove tops. For reading, flexible and directional lighting aimed away from you is better. Powder rooms require a combination of sidelights and down lights. Dimmers are also extremely useful, providing an energy efficient and effective way to quickly change the atmosphere and warmth of a room.
Consider the Bulb
The bulb choice contributes greatly to the effect and purpose of the light. Consider the following:
- What intensity of light do you require in your space? A higher watt bulb will give you a brighter light.
- What atmosphere are you trying to achieve? Look at colour temperature to set a mood. Lower colour temperature bulbs are more similar to candlelight, while higher temperature bulbs are more akin to a blue sky outside.
- What are your energy efficiency goals? Energy efficiency should be considered where possible and especially for more frequently used lights.
- Are you trying to make a design or focal statement? Look for bulbs with different scales, shape or colours.
Spotlights to Highlight
Use lighting to subtly (or not so subtly) focus on a feature walls, architectural element or key possession (like your mahogany leather sofa or winged armchair). Wall mounted lights symmetrically arranged on either side of a statement mirror above the mantelpiece of a fireplace will add warmth, sophistication and elegance to a room.
Light the Way at Night
Outdoor lighting provides the opportunity to create a magical ambiance that provides not only a safe guide, but also a welcoming one. Upwards lighting is usually the best choice here, as it is more considerate to neighbouring properties due to less distribution of light.
Night time lighting inside the house needs to be gentle on the eye, this is important for restful sleep, or return to sleep if somebody needs to get up in the night for the bathroom. Harsh lighting can cause temporary blindness and alertness upon flicking a switch. Invest in directional floor level lighting in hallways, staircases and the bathroom to create subtle warmth and to act as a guide.
Finally tie your lighting scheme together with cohesive style. To achieve this, keep the theme, colours and material finishes consistent throughout the home. An array of too many styles can be confusing on the eye and will cause uneasiness. Neutral, lighter tones will open up a space and make it appear larger, statement pops of colour (for example through lampshades) will add interest, while darker hues add a touch of luxury and cosiness. Keep it simple and consistent.