Gone are the days of a single pendant lamp lighting your home.
Now we are spoilt for choice. Light fittings come in many configurations allowing us to affect the mood and atmosphere of a room. We can accentuate décor and even have controls to adjust lighting automatically as the evening progresses. Finding a balance between practicality, budget and design has never been easier to achieve. Well designed lighting for your home will make a huge contribution to the overall feel and ambience, adding interest and drama.
Here is the Homeowners Club basic guide to lighting your home to best suit your style, tastes and budget.
Firstly identify the main areas of the kitchen with specific lighting needs; sink, cooking, preparation and dining areas. The typical lighting environments are; ambient, accent and task.
- Ambient lighting provides a soft and indirect light source, such as a ceiling fixture or skylight. Modern LED strip lighting is energy efficient and can create pleasing background effects fitted above or below cabinets
- Accent lighting accentuates certain elements to provide a desired mood. Options include lights in kitchen cabinets or spotlights directed at features. A feature light hung low over the dining room table provides mood and dramatic impact. But remember, glass topped tables can reflect strong light and cause irritating glare
- Task lighting uses spotlights, recessed, or tracking lights to light working areas
Kitchens are used extensively so use energy saving LED lamps and fittings.
For dinner parties, dimmed background lighting combined with candles creates a relaxed environment. Wall lights or discreet up-lighters are ideal.
Provide brighter task lighting for when its used as a study or hobby area. Dimmer switches are worth fitting.
Bedside table or separately switched wall lights each side of the bed are a must to provide sufficient light levels for reading but also consider less intrusive lighting for TV watching. A well positioned small table lamp or wall lights for a dressing table will help illuminate the face, eliminate shadows and enhance the overall scheme. Use a brighter centre light or downlighters when trying on clothes.
We now invests thousands installing luxury bathrooms. Lighting here can also be creative. Downlighters provide practical lighting for making up and shaving. More subtle ambient lighting helps you to relax in the bath. It’s useful have light forward of the body at a bathroom mirror to produce a bright and clear shadow free reflection.
Observe strict regulations on lights and fittings for wet areas.
In the living room use ceiling fittings and wall lights to help provide general background illumination. Plaster uplighters are low cost and are particularly effective in providing good light levels without reflecting in television screens, they can be painted to match wall colours. Strategically placed table and floor lamps add a sense of space and enhance any lighting scheme, providing atmosphere and interest as well as adding light where other light sources may not reach. Halogen floor standing uplighters are particularly good for providing high levels of ambient light when ceiling or wall lights are seldom used. A good reading light should be directional and have sufficient brightness
Highlight pictures, books and other objects using picture lights
In the office, specifically illuminate the desk area. Halogen lighting sharpens contrast between black and white and accentuates colour, making the working area more efficient as well as reducing eye strain when working with a computer
General lighting tips
Never rely on one source of light alone to light a room – it creates a very harsh contrast which can be tiring to the eyes
Multiple layers (Ceiling, Wall, Table or Floor Lamps) of light add atmosphere by creating different areas of light to gain versatility and flexibility in your lighting scheme.
Adding dimmer switches increases the effects possible
LED lights are energy efficient. They are available in a wide choice enabling you to replace traditional tungsten incandescent bulbs. Look for warm white and dimmable versions, do not use non-dimmable versions in circuits with a dimmer
Keep hallway lighting relaxed and non intrusive with a table lamp, use with a time-switch and an energy saving bulb
Always double check the maximum wattage for lamp shades to avoid burning
If you are at a pre-decorated stage consider all wiring and the positioning of plug sockets so you can place a table or floor lamp just where it is needed
Consider colour- rooms with very dark colour schemes will absorb light requiring a higher wattage, but neutral or white have high reflective qualities
The colour properties of bulbs are important. Fluorescent light is cold and inhibits the natural colour of objects making it more suitable for utility type purposes. LED and halogen bulbs are preferred for main living areas as they are warmer in colour, and allow the objects they illuminate to be shown in their natural tones
Avoid installing a light fitting to low ceilings. Flush and Semi Flush fittings will always look better.