Using light intelligently is fundamental to crafting a home that’s the very best it can be. Setting out to transform your space - to design a lighting plan that suits you - can seem daunting, but there are many simple solutions that can make a real difference. Our extensive guide to remodelling the lighting scheme of your home begins with the basics up to the most elaborate innovations. Whatever your budget and ambition, discover how you can change your home for the brighter and better.
Using light to bring a room to life begins with making the most of the natural light available to your home. Often the darkest rooms can be enhanced with basic but elegant solutions. For example, the intelligent use of mirrors can bounce light around the house, and can be particularly effective for enhancing those long, dark hall spaces or a flight of stairs. Try an opulent feature display of different shapes and sizes, but always place in relation to windows or lamps to see the full benefit.
The common correlation between drab, bulky curtains and a poorly lit room is telling. Replacing dark, heavy curtains with airy, summertime alternatives should be top of your list of how to bring more light into your home - and don’t even discount doing away with curtains entirely. A pair of Mediterranean-style shutters in pale wood or a neutral painted finish, can offer fantastic natural light without having to compromise on privacy.
If you’ve got the time, budget and patience, restructuring your interiors can open up whole new worlds of light in your home. Removing a separating wall can meld two dark rooms into a brighter open-plan space. Adding a tactically positioned window, skylight, a set of French doors - or even just replacing wooden doors with glass alternatives - can open up new avenues of light across your home that do away with dinginess and lend a real atmosphere of open, natural simplicity. Don’t be afraid to be daring - structural innovations like solar tubes may seem daunting, but can have a remarkable impact on spaces where there’s no option for natural light.
When you’re putting together a lighting scheme for any space, it’s important to start with what you use that space for and when. Crafting the perfect solution for each room is a balancing act between the provision of both ambient and ‘task’ lighting. Fresh ideas, either bold or basic, can help: installing floor plugs can provide huge flexibility and potential for bespoke task lighting, whilst daylight bulbs can create a soft, natural ambience in spaces lacking natural light. Pendant lighting can facilitate both: perfect for kitchen islands and breakfast bars, pendant lighting can work both as a spotlighting option and as an ambient solution. Striking a balance between the two - having multiple bespoke lighting options that enhance rather than saturate - should be a core consideration of a suitable lighting scheme for any contemporary, user-friendly space.
To achieve a practical balance of the practical and the ambient, it’s important to retain an open mind to style and the aesthetic options available. Wall lights and LED spotlights can be a novel and atmospheric alternative to traditional overhead lighting, whilst the intelligent deployment of desk and table lamps can provide a subtle glow that does not dominate and can enhance the colours of a room. That’s not to say that overhead lighting shouldn’t be considered carefully: often the pivotal centre of a lighting scheme, choose something that reflects the character of the room, and complements your wider stylistic choices.
Using lighter colours does not necessarily create lighter rooms, but it certainly helps! Whilst the understandable temptation is to throw dramatic greys onto walls, often the contrast and combination of a pale hue with a darker shade can be far more effective than whitewashing everything within reach. Even darker colours or ‘statement’ wallpaper should not be ruled out - a dramatic feature wall can lend a room a strong character whilst still complementing softer colours elsewhere. Complete the makeover with bright and colourful accessories: simple, clean-lined vases or colourful, patterned scatter cushions can add a welcoming, brightening feel.
It’s not just the choice of the colour that requires delicate consideration, but the selection of the paint itself. The mistake is often made when looking to brighten a room to decorate for a silken finish. However, this can create an unpleasant glare effect - a sheen that can appear artificial and cheapening. A simpler matte finish reflects light, and offers a warmer, more subtle impression; it ensures that the eye is drawn to the features of the room, ahead of the decoration.
To create a room that works night and day, all year round, it is crucial to integrate any lighting scheme with your choice and configuration of furniture. First things first, if possible, avoid over-burdening a room with large, cumbersome pieces - simplicity and scale are key to using space effectively. Dark woods and predominantly rich colours are best avoided, but if you’re stuck with the furniture you’ve got, disguise darker surfaces with bright, simple accessories that draw the eye. Be clever - reorient your room around your most commonly used light sources. After all, there’s no point installing those French doors if you turn your back on them, and there’s no point buying that perfect reading lamp if there isn’t the ideal armchair next to it, ready and waiting.
Creating a brighter room can often be a matter of de-cluttering, which can easily be solved by innovative space-saving storage solutions. High, over-packed bookshelves are certainly a talking point, but overburdening a room does not aid that all-important impression of a bright, stress-free space. It is important to make the distinction between storage and display when designing any room - when the distinction blurs, clutter collects. Consider neat, low-level storage innovations instead: the upper half of the room should be about openness, punctuated by characterful, carefully chosen displays. It’s not about ripping out everything that makes a room unique; rather, allowing light to pull the focus onto statement pieces, whilst retaining the character of a room and not detracting from your enjoyment of your home.
If all else fails, make the limits of your space a virtue. If you can’t shift the shade, enjoy it - find a beautiful lamp to read by, an armchair to curl up in and blankets aplenty. Heave those heavy curtains shut and settle into a luxurious den of your own devising.
However you choose to bring new light into your home, build your lighting scheme to suit your needs and around your home’s strengths. But whatever the ambition and scale of your project, there are a few key points to remember: balance ambient and task lighting; integrate your lighting and furniture plan; don’t be afraid of colour; and ensure that clutter is not king. So, throw open the curtains and get switched on to the idea of lighting your home, bright and right. Shop multicoloured candle holders to accessorise the dark corners.