Lighting inspiration |
How to choose the right lights for your interior design project
I am often surprised at how little attention clients will to give to lighting their homes. Often they are willing to spend money on expensive furniture and fittings, but will give very little thought to how the space will be lit.
Lighting is often left to the end of the project and considered as part of the finishing touches, but in reality, it is a key component that will make or break your design scheme and should be considered at the very beginning of the design and build process. Remember, all lighting needs a supply of electricity, and leaving this aspect to last can lead to expensive and highly disruptive retro fitting of electrical supplies and sockets and/ or the overuse of unsightly cables and extension sockets. Failure to properly plan at this stage can also compromise the overall design scheme, so it is worth giving this aspect of design your full consideration.
Consider where furniture will go, how will you be using the
room; whether it’s primary use is during the day or at night, or if the room is to be used for study, hobbies or entertaining? Here are some top tips… It is important to understand that lighting by definition is artificial and the type of light used will subtly
alter colour. Light bulbs tend to produce light on the yellow side of natural
light and as such, will deepen reds, yellows and neutrals. Conversely, they
will cause blues and greens to appear slightly duller. Fluorescent lighting tends to deepen blues to
purples and dulls reds and pinks and is unflattering for many skin tones. It is therefore worth checking colours in
both natural and artificial light before committing yourself to a scheme.
Lighting also contains decorative elements that will either distract from, or enrich a room’s interior. In general, lighting should complement the overall space and enhance the personality of the room, but it must also be functional. For instance, ambient lighting will let you perform everyday functions and keep the room well lit, but you will need task lighting for cooking, reading and working. Equally, accent lighting will be important to highlight and add flare to decorative objects, art, window treatments and architectural features. Downlighting is something you either love or hate, but it can be incredibly useful and effective when used in its proper place. In reception or dining spaces down lighters can help create a soft overall glow that adds ambience. Spotlights make a feature out of important possessions and architectural features and can be interesting when used in corners, where you would not normally have light. However, the excessive use of spotlights on the ceiling isn’t glamorous and the excessive light produced can be exhausting. If you intend to use spotlights I would advise you fit dimmer switches, which can instantly change the lighting from dramatic to cosy.
Lighting in the dining room should be subtle yet sparkling, bright overhead lights other than chandeliers, are inappropriate and again even chandeliers should be fitted with dimmer switches. Wall lights are a good option and when used cleverly with mirrors can create a dazzling reflective effect. In most rooms you will want to achieve different levels of light, which is where table and floor lamps and picture / wall lights (depending upon how much art you have) come into their own. But be careful, the table and floor lamps almost always need lampshades and they need to be the right size, shape and beautiful. Their overuse will make your room look like a lampshade shop and will ruin the overall effect of your carefully thought out scheme.
LED lighting can be very effective and is a great alternative to fluorescent lighting, It is excellent for task lighting as the quality of light is much whiter and brighter but is also dimmable and as such can also be used effectively in almost any application. Mood lighting uses different tones, colours and brightness of light to help create atmosphere. Lowlights can be used to induce calmness and relaxation and have a cosy romantic feel whilst bright lights are upbeat, stimulating and can create excitement. To sum up, lighting is an integral part of your design scheme and has the potential to totally transform an interior for better or worse – so give it your full attention!