Good lighting is one of the biggest differences between a beautiful, bright and elegant home, and a dark and dreary one. Even if you’ve decorated a room beautifully, if it’s badly lit or is unpleasantly bright (like the lighting you might find in a hospital or at the dentist’s), then it’s a wasted effort. Equally, if you don’t have the time or the budget to completely redecorate a room, just choosing the right lighting can have a massive impact. Lighting is also essential in terms of creating the mood and ambience of a living space, so getting it right from the start is vital.
As lighting is one of the most overlooked (yet most important) elements of good interior design, I’ve asked interior design lighting experts John Cullen Lighting for their best tips and tricks for lighting each area of the home. After all, there’s little point in creating beautiful interiors if they can’t be appreciated properly!
First of all, there are a few kinds of lighting to understand;
Accent lighting is often used as a sort of spotlight to display paintings or to accentuate plants or decorative objects like sculptures.
Task lighting includes desk lamps, reading lamps in the bedroom, floor lamps in sitting room corners, above the mirror in bathrooms and anywhere you might shave or apply makeup, and above kitchen counters or kitchen islands where you might be chopping, as well as any other space in the home where light is needed to perform a task.
This is used to create a mood or ambience, by using different tones and colours of light, as well as different levels of brightness. This includes the use of dimmer switches in bedrooms and living spaces, as well as dining areas.
How to light a living room
It’s important to set the right balance in the living room, as it’s often used for entertainment as well as a place to relax, and is one of the most used spaces in a home. To find the right balance, a combination of permanent fixtures such as spotlights, a chandelier or a pendant lamp together with complimentary lighting in the form of a task light (such as a floor lamp) and / or accent lighting (such as downlighting onto curtains or the fireplace) is key. And a dimmer switch is, of course, a must have!
Consider positioning downlights that are angled towards the curtains, artwork and any joinery so that the reflected light comes back into the room, enhancing the feel of space within the room. Always try and avoid a grid of downlights as this only serves to make a room look flat and dull. Use a Polespring LED downlight for a low glare and excellent colour rendition.
Should you be unable to recess into a ceiling or you are looking for the real wow factor, a layer of small discreet uplights can add a magical touch to window reveals or fireplaces.
Don’t be afraid to use these within more period style properties too. Quite often the original design features can be enriched with the simple addition of an uplight, and their discreet size never gets in the way of the main focus.
3. Task lighting
Think about adding a layer of warmer lighting in the form of table lamps with shades all plugged into a 5 amp circuit. Try and avoid fluorescent bulbs as these can quite often be cold and produce a somewhat grey feel to the space. The warmer light from a halogen or incandescent lamp is of much more comfort throughout the winter months, and when all dimmed simultaneously on the same circuit, can create a wonderful cosy and relaxed feel to the space. Using 5 amp floor boxes that can be hidden under sofas are an ideal way of hiding any lingering cables too.
4. Accent lighting
It’s important to create focus too within any room. Quite often the simplest way to achieve this in a living area is to simply pin point a coffee table or decorative object with a narrow beam of light.
5. Shelf lighting
Joinery lighting is a fun and practical way to highlight the shelving within a space. Front lighting an LED tape (such as the Contour HD24) serves well to light both objects and books, or downlighting with the Eyelid Under Cupboard light can create a focused light onto individual items. Back lighting adds a real depth and drama to otherwise boring white shelves and silhouettes simple objects beautifully.
6. Mood lighting
Finally, it is important that each circuit is dimmable within the room. This way you can use the lighting to serve all moods and purposes and you are able to create endless amounts of scenes.