When we are considering the decoration of our homes, it can be easy to get inspiration for colour schemes, furniture and the layout of the room. There are many places to see aspirational rooms in interior design magazines, on home improvement television programmes and by visiting showrooms in a variety of stores.
Whilst these may give us an idea for a lamp or lightshade, it can be more difficult to recreate the effect of carefully positioned light sources in our own homes.
With the right lighting, an interior can be really enhanced, but equally, if it is insufficient or excessive, the colours can become distorted and the effect of other interior design features may be reduced. Whilst most people can’t afford the services of a designer to assist them with their decisions, investing a bit of time in planning the lighting of your space can help to get the right result.
The good news is that it is the positioning, rather than the price tag that gets the best outcomes.
Firstly, it is important to consider the full range of activities that will take place in that particular room.
Your choice of lighting should be tailored to match these activities. For example; whilst a general light may be suitable for most bathroom activities, you may choose to add wall lights next to, or above the bathroom mirror to make it brighter and therefore easier to shave, or apply make up in that area. In this example, wall lights would also eradicate shadows that would be cast by a ceiling light.
In most rooms it is advisable to use multiple light sources in order to create the right feel. Interior designers often refer to these multiple sources as layers of light. These start with general ambient lighting, with task lighting and/or accent lighting adding additional layers.
Let’s explain this in more detail. Ambient lighting is the general illumination of the space. Natural sunlight provides good ambient lighting during the day, but ceiling or wall lights are usually used for ambient lighting when the sunlight has faded.
Task lighting is brighter lights positioned in areas where specific tasks will be undertaken that require clear vision. This could be in the form of a reading lamp, or spotlighting above kitchen worktops. Also providing additional light to a specific area is accent lighting. These are lights that highlight a particular feature in the room, such as a painting on the wall and making it a focal point. Accent lighting can help to distract the eye away from less desirable areas in the space too!
As the eye is naturally drawn to light, it is good to ensure that no area in the room is left dark and unwelcoming, so you make maximum use of the space. If the ambient light is leaving an area looking dim, then the addition of wall lights in that area can help to lift it. Wall lights can provide up or down lighting, or with the many options that are currently available, then may even be a design statement in their own right.
If you have multiple light sources, you also have the option of changing the feel of the room by changing the combination of lights that are turned on. As most rooms are used for many different purposes, there are likely to be times when more light is needed for practical reasons, such as the children getting their homework done, but then more ambient lighting is desired for relaxing in the evening.
Once you have planned where your lighting should be positioned, you need to consider the type of light fitting that would suit your home.
There are now a wide range of light fittings available, making it easier to find the right colour and style to compliment the period of your home, the existing furniture and other design features. You will need to consider the some practicalities, such as the size of light fitting selected for a particular space and recessed or wall lights can be a better in homes with low ceilings.
Many High Street shops only have a limited selection of light fittings that fit in with current interior trends. If you are looking for something specific, or a colour that isn’t this season’s fashion, then you may have more success with an online lighting specialist such as Lights On Lights Off, who can offer a much wider selection.
Lighting is often overlooked, but is an important consideration for any room as it can greatly impact on how the interior space works. Remember to plan around the activities that will take place in the room and use multiple light sources for the best results.