When settling into a new house lighting can be the last thing on your mind until you notice that the nights are drawing in. The impact of lighting can make a massive difference to your home.
Ideally it would be better if you could start again and not have a single source in the centre of the room and a single switch by the door.
First of all I will set out some helpful hints to show you the main elements to consider when lighting an interior. I’ll do this in three sections. This will undoubtedly give rise to all sorts of problems which I’ll try to address. The ones I miss you’ll just have to contact me about and I’ll try to point you in the right direction.
Then I’ll give you a little bit about the different light sources available and the pitfalls to avoid. Stay with me and you may be surprised how much difference it will make to your home.
The first section is Ambient or Concealed lighting
The objective of ambient lighting is to set a mood, highlight a space and give a soft glow to an area so that if no other lights are on it will define the space and pathways as well as accentuate some of the best elements in the room.
Any dimmable light source can be used whether it be tungsten, fluorescent or LED.
Apart from the dimmers you can soften the light with sand blast glass diffusers and warm white specifications.
If you have some great accent items in the room such as flowers, pictures or statues you can make these become a focal point by the use of eyeball down lighters.
Ambient light is for the most part reflected light and will pick up the colours of the room.
Next we have General or Accent Lighting
This is lighting you can see. It makes a statement and sets a style within the room. It stands or falls on its own merit. It is also the one item that so many can get wrong in either style or scale. Its also the one where most of the budget should be spent.
Obviously, because it is visible, general lighting should blend or match with the scheme you aim to achieve. Fortunately the choices are endless. Apart from centre lights, you can form accents with wall lighting and table lamps. Each fitting will be their own visual effect. From each fitting the light will bounce around to reflect colour from the surrounding surfaces.
Do not be afraid of the size of a fitting, it is generally better if it is larger rather than smaller. You just need to ensure you have enough head room in traffic areas, where you suspend pendants or chandeliers.
I have already intimated that general lighting can be expensive so it is imperative that you seek design advice if you are not sure. It is just a waste if you spend money on expensive fittings which don’t work in the room.
The rules that apply are often subjective and depend on experience and personal taste. It is my belief that table lamps always look better in pairs even when not on the same item of furniture. I also feel that wall lights are better as accent items in their own right and should not be considered solely as a light source.
Finally we have Function lighting or Task lighting
This does exactly what it says. It lights areas where work is done. It gives a certain light level as required for pathways, movement patterns and specific job functions such as reading, sewing etc. In some cases a specific temperature or rendition of light is required for colour matching or enhancing a sales area. Traditionally the most used functional light source has been fluorescent but more recently other low energy options are being used.
Try to avoid putting functional spotlighting in such a way that the beams of light cross through sight lines. Where necessary ensure your low voltage and LED systems are dimmable.