This home lighting design guide sets out considerations and gives you tips on what to look for and the benefits of different lighting types. It is impossible for me to give specific advice without visiting the room or home in question.
Home lighting is a key feature that has the potential to dramatically change the appearance and atmosphere of your home.
With clever planning and the correct choice of lighting solution for each room in the house, you’ll be able to create the right kind of ambience, adding both style and value to your home.
Choosing the correct type of lighting and lamp bulbs for your home is an important aspect in creating a practical yet comfortable feature in all rooms of the house. Each room has to be looked at from a different viewpoint and includes the style of light you will choose to the effect of light the fitting will create.
Lighting is often overlooked when people look at interior design, but when considered carefully it can add tremendous impact to the home environment. It will enhance the colour of your décor, provide warmth and atmosphere and can be used to separate and easily identify different zones within your home. There are essentially three types of lighting which, when combined correctly, will create your optimum lighting solution.
Different Types Of Lighting
Lighting design can be divided into 3 broad types of lighting that should be combined to create your optimum lighting solution.
When it comes to interior design, lighting is easily overlooked. However, the right type of lighting can have a tremendous impact on the ambience of your home. It can enhance the colour of your décor, provide warmth and atmosphere and can be used to distinguish different zones within your home.
The best known and most widely used type of lighting is general or ambient lighting. Its function is simply to provide sufficient illumination in the room. Examples are main centre light fittings or (in the absence of ceiling lights) wall lights. This is considered to be the most important category as it has to be sufficiently bright to illuminate the whole room when called upon so you can see properly and be safe.
Task lighting is used to illuminate specific areas of your home where additional light is needed in addition to general lighting. For example, a desk may need an extra reading lamp or desk lamp to give light aimed at a certain place to enable you to view paper work clearly without impeding the eyesight. Other examples would include floor standing reading lamps, bathroom mirror lights and under cabinet kitchen lighting when general light is often blocked when preparing food on a work surface.
This is by far the most creative and interesting lighting category, accent lighting is used to create a mood or highlight particular features such as a fireplace, feature plant or ornament. Use low energy LED’s to transform a gloomy corner of a room, giving your home a unique and personal touch. A dark gloomy corner of any room can be transformed into an interesting feature that’s practical too. The only thing that can hold you back on accent lighting is your own imagination.
Create a Welcoming First Impression
Entrances and hallways are the first places your visitors encounter, so make sure these areas are both practical and inviting.
You never get a second chance to create a good first impression. They need to be warm and inviting, yet provide sufficient light for everyday living such as moving from one room to another. Fortunately, these areas are particularly well suited to making a statement. If you have a high ceiling, why not make a real style statement with a pendant light or chandelier? Or create an opulent look with a traditional hanging lantern, a fabulous crystal ceiling light or silk fabric pendant? For lower ceiling heights, choose a flush or semi-flush ceiling light of a similar design that will fit closer to the ceiling.
If you have a console table in your hallway, place a table lamp on it as a good way to add another layer of lighting and draw the eye into your home. A carefully placed mirror behind a table lamp, at the end of the hallway or positioned to reflect the light from a pendant or chandelier can create a visual illusion to make your hallway appear larger than it is and reflect light into otherwise gloomy corners. For small or narrow hallways, create pools of light by using down lights and wall lights for a welcoming effect.
A carefully placed mirror behind a table lamp, at the end of the hallway or positioned to reflect the light from a pendant or chandelier can work wonders. It can make your hallway appear much larger than it is and reflect light into otherwise inaccessible corners, making the space seem brighter, lighter and more inviting.
If you have a small hallway or space is limited you can create pools of light by using down lights and wall lights to create a welcoming effect. Mirrors can be placed above the wall lights to create an illusion of space and reflect the light back into the space.
Lighting Staircases Every Step Of The Way
Stairwell lighting should be safe and functional – but there’s plenty of opportunity to add some drama too.
Staircases and stairwell lighting offers a great opportunity to add a dramatic statement to your interiors scheme. With stairwells having double ceiling height, it gives you the chance to choose a larger light fitting with a longer drop, such as a spiral stairwell pendant. These tend to be multi-level pendants, often decorated with crystal shades that will provide a focal point to your hallway and landing.
A bright ceiling light over the stairs adds safety by defining the stair risers and making them easier to see.
Tip: It is important to consider how a staircase light fitting will look from all angles. Most ceiling lights are designed to be viewed from below, but in this case it is likely that it can also be viewed from above, so check that you are happy with your choice from all angles before committing to buy.
Safe And Stylish Landing Lights
Lighting solutions for your landing at the top of the stairs should be functional as well as visually pleasing.
Landings tend to be smaller than hallways, often acting as little more than a passageway leading from one area to another, say bedrooms to bathrooms. From a safety point of view, you should ensure that these areas a clear from clutter that could cause an obstruction, particularly if you have small children or elderly people living with you.
Flush or semi-flush ceiling lights or wall washers are perfect for landings as they are unobtrusive and efficient. Dimmable lights on landings can be left on a low level throughout the night to aid safe passage for children, the elderly or anyone half awake.
Light Up Your Living Room
While every living room is personal and unique, it’s a multi-functional space that requires a combination of lighting elements.
Living room and lounge areas are probably the most used rooms in the home. Lighting solutions here require a subtle blend of the 3 key lighting elements to be both comfortable and relaxing, yet bright enough for, say, reading a book.
First of all, consider the physical aspects of the room, such as its size and aspect. A north facing room may appear quite dark, while a south facing room is likely to be brighter, even during the winter months. East facing rooms catch the morning sun while west facing spaces are lighter into the evening. Use a combination of ceiling and wall lighting and a balanced mix of table, floor or task lamps (depending on the size and layout of your room) to control and balance the lighting requirements and create a cosy, warm atmosphere.
For the centre of the room, a 5m x 4m (16ft x 12ft 6”) living room will typically require at least a three-light ceiling fitting for sufficient overhead illumination, and 5-arm light fitting will provide additional interest. A pendant or chandelier would be a great choice for rooms with high ceilings, otherwise choose a semi-flush or flush ceiling light as the best solution. Dimmable light fittings are recommended since they can be adjusted to suit your mood.
Dimmable floor uplighter lamps are a great idea for living rooms and can be placed in the corner of any room to bounce light off the ceiling back into the room to create a soft, diffused light. Many people choose to use a floor standing uplighter as the main source of light in the evening. Choose a mother & child floor lamp for the added benefit of a directional task or reading lamp that can be used without disturbing others in the room.
Table lamps play an important role in the overall living room scheme. They are a truly flexible way of adding an extra lighting layer and can be placed almost anywhere there’s a flat, stable surface.
Stylish Dining Room Light Solutions
Dining rooms are much more than a place to eat, which is why you should choose your dining room ceiling light with great care.
The dining room is more than somewhere to have breakfast, lunch or dinner; it’s also a place for socialising and entertaining. This makes the lighting design for your dining room an important consideration.
The dining room ceiling light should be chosen with extra care. It should be mounted as centrally as possible in the room or centrally over the dining table. It should be large and bright enough to illuminate the whole table. This will avoid anyone sitting in a shadow or feel as if they are sitting in a spotlight due to over illumination of one area.
To avoid the problem of glare, the ceiling light should be suspended 30″ – 34″ above the dining table surface. Better still, choose a dimmable ceiling light to allow for maximum flexibility.
Tip: Choose a ceiling light fitting that mirrors the shape of your dining table and is around 50% to 60% of it’s width. If you have a large rectangular table, then a linear shaped pendant is a good modern choice. If you have a circular dining table, than a circular chandelier or fabric pendant of a suitable size is ideal.
After the meal, when the focus is no longer on the dining table, wall washers, table and floor lamps are great lighting choices. Use these to create pools of light rather than the main ceiling light to create an intimate relaxed and cosy atmosphere to while away an hour or so of conversation.
Brighten Up Your Bedroom
While there should be no harsh light in a space that promotes calm and relaxation, don’t forget to include bright ambient light for, say, getting dressed.
Not all bedrooms are the same – do you read or watch TV in bed in yours? Are you choosing a light fitting for a child’s bedroom or an elderly person with poor eyesight? For best results, opt for a mix of lighting elements to provide a welcoming ambience and maximum flexibility.
Choose a ceiling light of sufficient size and in proportion to the size of the room, while keeping the style complementary to the rest of the décor. Use fabric shades to create a softer light or a dazzling crystal chandelier for a more opulent look.
Wall lights and bedside lamps are a great choice to provide soft, relaxing pools of light. If you read or watch TV in bed, a touch dimming table lamp can be turned on, dimmed and turned off simply by touching the lamp body.
Swing arm wall lights were made for people who like to read in bed. One positioned above and either side of the bed gives you the ability to switch them on separately and swing the arm out overhead. Some even have a main shaded light and separate directional LED reading light for the ultimate in convenience and flexibility.
Safety And Warmth For a Child’s Bedroom
Safety is paramount when it comes to choosing lighting schemes in young children’s bedrooms.
For children’s bedrooms, consideration should be given to the age and gender of the child. Toddlers will benefit from a bright, colourful ceiling light that can be dimmed to a lower level and left on during the night. Get your youngster to help you choose from a wealth of playful motifs and favourite characters.
Always ensure that the light fitting cannot be touched and that the light bulbs, in particular, are well out of reach. Light bulbs can get very hot in use, able to cause severe skin burns if touched.
As your child gets older, you may wish to update the theme or design of the light fitting to be more age appropriate, while an additional desk lamp may be required for reading and for homework.
Brilliant Kitchen Lighting Ideas
As modern, multi-functional spaces in the home, kitchens have several lighting requirements that need careful attention.
A kitchen is the heart of the home but in order for it to be a great place to spend time cooking, relaxing or socialising, getting your kitchen lighting right is key. Lighting design should be considered at the outset, ideally before the kitchen is installed and tiled, incorporating elements of ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. A detailed Kitchen Lighting Design Guide can be found here.
If you have a kitchen island, think carefully about the size and shape of the island and choose light fittings that are proportional to its dimensions. Two or three-light kitchen island pendants are a popular functional as well as decorative choice. Available as fixed pendants that are adjustable at the time of fitting as rise and fall lights, you can find stylish modern chrome and glass designs or more traditional ceramic pendants.
Most kitchen pendants give a downward directional light making them perfect for worktop illumination where no wall cupboards exist and for over dining tables. Install them so that the bottom of the shade is around 1000mm from the surface for best illumination.
It is important to ensure that any island or worktop pendants do not interfere with your ability to perform tasks or move around unhindered. We recommend that you have a clearance of 30″ – 34″ (750mm – 850mm) between the lowest point and the worktop. When hanging in multiples, you should aim to hang them 24″ – 26″ (600mm – 650mm) apart from centre to centre and at least 12″ (300mm) from any edge.
Make A Splash With Bathroom Lights
Bathroom lighting is very often overlooked for task lights but it can make all the difference between a cold and a comfy space.
Bathroom lighting should be practical, safe and stylish. You want your personal sanctuary to be relaxing as you have a soak in the tub, but you also need adequate brightness for washing, shaving and applying makeup.
Good use of different types of lighting will ensure that you accomplish both tasks with ease, while the use of suitable IP rated products will guarantee your safety in the bathroom. For more information about how to select the most appropriate bathroom lights, please visit our bathroom lighting section.
Bathroom mirror lights and illuminated mirrors will make performing bathroom tasks such as brushing teeth, shaving and applying makeup much easier. As task lighting to complement general bathroom illumination, they can also be used to give a lovely background light while you’re relaxing in the bath.