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Lighting is an important aspect of any room and design. It has the power to completely transform a space. It can accentuate parts of the room you want to show off, make a space feel larger (or smaller) and can help create a perfect atmosphere.
Even a perfectly styled room can be let down poor lighting, but it’s not an easy thing to get right and it’s something we always struggle to perfect.
Lighting is plannable and should be an afterthought or left to coincidence. Getting it right can be tough, but there are a few basic rules and tips that you can follow to make it work for your space.
There are three different types of lighting:
General (Ambient) Lighting
Classic ceiling pendant lamps in the middle of your room and downlights are popular general light sources. Lighting from above can be harsh, so it’s a good idea to add dimmers to be able to adjust your lighting when a softer atmosphere is called for.
Any areas where you’re working, reading or carrying out any other type of work need to be well lit with lighting that’s bright enough for you to be able to see what you’re doing. Practical lighting like a reading light or a desk lamp are essential for creating a functional space. When dotted around the room, these pockets of light also help create depth and a well-lit space.
A room that just has soft ambient and task light can feel quite boring so having a bit of fun and add interest with accent lighting. Accent lighting creates interest and atmosphere. You can also use it to accentuate architectural features of the room, artwork and furniture.
The most appealing rooms have a mixture of all three types of lighting and a balance is achieved through a combining low-contrast and high-contrast lighting.
In our living room, we have a selection of different light sources. We have a ceiling pendant for ambient light as well as a selection of table lamps and floor lamp with dimmers (this is our lamp) which we can adjust as necessary. We also have a few candles dotted around – which in our opinion can also be classed as accent lighting.
Our living room is by no means perfect though. We do still need more lighting – especially better task lighting.
We would like to have at least another table lamp on a table next to our new armchair.
We tend to spend time there reading, so a bright light would be ideal – maybe a lamp that can be turned and adjusted to suit our reading position. We think that something similar to this one by Artemide would work well in our room.
There’s much more to light planning that just sticking a few lamps in a room and hoping for the best. You can read about how to plan your lighting in lighting design guides, but there are a few simple rules that you can things you can do to improve your space.
These are our top 5 tips to get your lighting right:
1. Add more than you think.
It doesn’t mean that you have to turn your home into the Blackpool illuminations, but having a selection of lights that you can switch on and off as you require is important. Depending on the time of day, way you’re using the room and atmosphere you want to create. It’s important to be able to adjust the lighting to suit your current needs.
2. Plan your lighting around the way you use the space.
Think about how you use the room. Do you only use it in the day? Do you relax or work in it? Do you always sit in the same spot? All of these things will influence the type of lighting you will need for the room. Plan what you will use your room for and what kind of tasks you’ll be doing there.
3. Think about the mood.
You’ll probably not want to have bright ceiling lights shining down on you if you’re cuddling to watch a movie, but equally if you’re trying to work you’ll want to be able to see what you’re doing. It’s important to be able to switch all lights on and off independently.
4. Create Shadows.
It may sound weird, but you actually want to create shadows. The contrast between light and dark is what creates interest. A room without any shadow will feel monotone and uncomfortable and more like you’re in a waiting room than a part of your home. Through lighting zones you create contrast, interest and variety. It’s the contrast between light and dark that make rooms more interesting. Try to avoid shadows that are too harsh though.
5. Be Flexible.
Have a range of different lights in different locations. Different purposes will need different light. Have a mix of lamps with different types of light. Adding dimmers is also a great way of being able to adjust your lighting.
There are so many different ways of improving your lighting and we still have a long way to go before ours is perfect. If you’re looking for more advice there’s lots of information on the internet or you could, of course, get the help of an interior designer or light planner if you’re really stuck.
Do you have any tips on how to get your lighting right? What’s your favourite way to create a cosy space? How many lights do you have in your rooms?