When planning their own design scheme, I have noticed that most people tend to concentrate on colour and fabrics first, then consider window treatments, flooring and space planning, but treat lighting as an additional afterthought (if they think about it at all). Lighting really needs to be considered at the outset of a project, so that any wiring (and cutting of holes in the ceiling for spotlights) can be done before the decoration.
- Decide on the function of the room-if it is an open-plan living/dining room you can divide the two functions visually by using different circuits. In my bedroom I have two circuits, one for my bedside lights and another for the general lighting, which is a pendant in the centre of the room.
- Think about what you going to be doing in the space. This will dictate whether you will need to include general, task or accent lighting. A balanced lighting scheme will include a mixture of all types. in a living room you will need to add task lighting for reading, and the easiest way to do this is by using floor or table lamps near your seating areas. Remember to co-ordinate your lampshades! Matching lamps on either side of the sofa is a good, practical look.
- Drum lampshades are a way to add colour and style to your room and there is a vast choice now on the market. However, when choosing the colour of the shade, remember that when lit, differing amounts of light will be emitted depending on how dark the shade is. Also red shades will give off a warm rosy glow, whereas blues and greens will will give off a cooler glow.
- When thinking about lighting in a bathroom, you need to think about the safety aspects and research rules relating to lighting in wet conditions. Bathroom lights will have IP ratings, which range from IP44 (area around the basin and bath), to IP68 (used within the bath or shower). Also task lighting is important in a bathroom.
- Draw a furniture layout or a plan of the space before you start so that you know where to place the lights. If you have already decorated, use plug-in fittings e.g. low-voltage uplighters for accent lighting.
- Downlights can be used really effectively in kitchens and dining rooms. These rooms will be well-used at night, and also some kitchens, especially galleys and kitchens in flats, tend not to have much natural light so they need an extra light boost. Be careful not to overdo it though because lines of down-lights in a room just ends up looking boring. in this kitchen, task lighting is provided by low-glare directional down- lights over the island and LED under-cupboard lights over the worktops. To add wow-factor,the artwork is highlighted by downlights, uplights are used to frame the sides of the cabinets and the floor is washed by steplights recessed at the base of the cabinets . (Scheme by John Cullen)
- Use dimmer switches to alter the atmosphere of a room. You should always use dimmers in dining room schemes to create an intimate, romantic atmosphere. If using a pendant light, add extra sparkle by cross-lighting it with small directional spotlights.
- Spotlights can be used as accent lighting, to emphasise key objects and architectural details. They can bring out the rough texture of a brick wall or highlight flower arrangements or artwork.
- Don’t forget the garden! You can create stunning effects outside. The key is to decide which features you want to highlight and then hide the source of the light. Also consider how the garden will be used and the view from the house
- Finally, keep things simple, especially when planning accent lighting, as overdoing it will produce too many focal points, resulting in a messy effect.
And if you would like me to help plan a lighting design, here are my contact details