Lighting has significant impacts on the mood and success of your interior. We advise not leaving your lighting decision to the end of a redecoration or renovation. No matter how wonderful your interior design is, if it is poorly lit or over lit it can be a major downfall. Lighting design can be a make or break element of your interior design and it’s important to remember that our reactions to light are usually subconscious and that lighting can greatly affect our mood and wellbeing.
Here are some tips to help you make the best lighting choices.
Plan a lighting scheme
Think about the flow of space and where you want the eye to travel. Different areas will need different lighting. Think about the use of each area and the activities you do in each room or part of each room. Where you like to read or undertake detailed tasks, for example, it will need to be bright so you can be awake and alert. Also, think about the features of the room you want highlight and where mirrors are placed, as these reflect the light around the room.
Every room should be a combination of different light types: general lighting, task lighting and decorative lighting.
Lighting in layers
When designing the lighting within your home, plan the lighting in layers. Avoid using only one light source in a room and avoid creating glare or overly bright light. The first layer to consider is ambient light, the second layer is task lighting, the third layer is accent lighting and the final layer is decorative lighting.
Ambient light refers to the indirect light within the room; the overall illumination of the space. It can come from natural light, ceiling lights or wall lights. Ambient lighting should produce a comfortable and consistent level of light throughout the room. This makes it safer and easier to move about the room.
Hanging pendant lights, chandeliers, recessed lighting or track lights are good sources of ambient light. If you choose recessed ceiling lighting, don’t install so many lights that the room is overly bright. In ceiling lights choose medium wattage bulbs. Keep your eye out for any dark areas within the room and add a lamp for more ambient light.
Don’t forget to make the most of the natural light that already exists in each room. A good idea is to place a mirror opposite any window to reflect the natural light around the room.
Task lighting is the second layer of lighting you need to think about. Task lighting is about how you use the room. You need to think about your lighting requirements for different activities you perform in each room. Task lighting is targeted lighting; it is light that is directed at a specific area of a room for a particular purpose. These areas include the kitchen bench top, the dining table, your desk or reading chairs.
Floor lamps can provide ideal task lighting for reading or sewing. They can be moved around the room depending on where you need the light. Desk lamps or swing-arm lights are also ideal for localized tasks. Above the kitchen bench hanging pendant lights can cast light downwards directly on to the surface where you need the light. Track lights and spotlights are also great for task lighting. These lights can be adjusted, aimed and positioned depending on exactly where you need the light directed.
Accent lighting is the third layer of lighting you need to plan into the lighting scheme of your home. The aim here is to create interest and atmosphere. Accent lighting is used to focus the eye on particular areas of the room. These may include paintings, display cabinets, antiques, photographs or the architecture of the room.
Accent lighting needs to be stronger than the ambient lighting within the room. Otherwise it won’t sufficiently light the object it is trying to accent. Accent lighting can be achieved with small spotlights, picture lights, recessed cabinet lights or swing-arm wall lights. Don’t accent too much within a room. Choose a few features that are aesthetically appealing and focus on these.
The fourth layer of lighting is all about mood. Sometimes we want to create a relaxing atmosphere. Sometimes we want a more romantic atmosphere. Incorporating decorative lighting into your lighting scheme will ensure that you can create that soft warm glow at any time.
Dimmer switches on all ceiling lights are essential for creating mood within the room. Lamps with low wattage bulbs positioned strategically around the room are also ideal ways to create a soft glow in different areas of the room.
Focusing on the colour of the light produced is important. Choose lampshades with warm golden toned fabrics to create a warmer glow. And remember sometimes less light is more when it comes to mood and atmosphere.
Choosing the right style
Choosing the right style of lighting can be a daunting task, so we have prepared a style guide to help you. Our designer is also available to assist and you are welcome to send images of your interiors, photos of interiors and lights you like.
Remember that you can choose from different styles in different rooms. It is recommended that there be some elements that relate them together, but they do not need to be all from the same style/range. The French style is most of all about bringing a joyful and elegant quality. It is about individuality as well, so follow your instincts and ask yourself – does this particular light or style give you the feeling you wish to create in this room? As ultimately getting the feeling right is what turns a house into a home.
Where possible add a dimmer switch to give your lighting scheme flexibility and subtlety. Dimmers give you greater freedom to adapt the light to different uses such as entertaining, dining or working.
Dimmers are also important when you want to combine light types such as table lamps or wall lamps and down lights. By dimming the down lights to a soft suffused lighting, you can then allow the other type of lights to create a wonderful atmosphere that will enhance your décor and everyone’s mood.
Be sure especially when purchasing LED bulbs that they are dimmable, as not all are.
Choose the right bulbs with the right colour temperature and colour rendition
Consider the brightness required, as well as the energy and cost efficiency. Focus on the lumens required instead of the watts. Consider the colour temperature of the bulb and aim for the highest colour rendition.
For over a century now we have been accustomed to the warm glow of incandescent bulbs. When energy saving bulbs were first introduced, they emitted a ghostly greenish tinge, but now with LED we can choose a warmer light which is really important in creating a friendly atmosphere in a home.
Few people are aware of the effect that the right colour rendition index has. Most cheap LED lights have a very poor colour rendition, meaning the colours rendered/seen under the particular bulb may not be accurate. Places like art galleries and museums need to make sure the lighting allows the true colours to be perceived accurately.
If you have been carefully choosing the shades of colour in fabrics and paint finishes to make a beautiful interior, a poor colour index in the lighting will make the colours murky and brownish. Ideally a colour rendition index (also called CR index) of over 90% should be chosen.
For more detailed information on these concepts, keep reading through our guide.