By Debbie Watson
When the clocks go back in autumn or forward in spring, it’s the ideal time to reassess your lighting scheme; the extra hour of darkness or light can make a big difference to the mood of your home. Where natural light is in short supply, artificial light will make up the deficit. For the best results, you’ll need a variety of light sources throughout your lighting scheme to create a layered effect: these can be loosely divided into ambient (overall) lighting, accent lighting (to highlight features) and task lighting (for reading or working). Each room in your home needs to be approached differently depending on its function, in order to make all the available light sources work to your advantage and to achieve the desired lighting effect.
This is the first room that your guests will see and should set the tone for the rest of the house. If you’ve a good ceiling height, make the most of it by installing a feature hanging lantern. If there are stairs in your entrance hall, make sure that there’s enough light for people to get up and down them safely!
Hallways often lack natural light so a combination of ambient and accent lighting (to highlight pictures or mirrors) will be required. A console with a table lamp at either end will work beautifully underneath a mirror or a picture, at the same time providing valuable surface space. Or, if it’s a busy hallway with frequent footfall, you may opt for wall sconces, positioned in pairs either side of key features.
Creating an inviting living room is partly down to your lighting scheme. Aim to have light sources at varying heights - a combination of both lamps and fixed lighting is ideal. The more you disperse light around the room, the more inviting and comfortable it will seem. Ambient lighting is generally positioned overhead in a living room and whether you opt for recessed downlighters or a feature hanging lamp, it’s a good idea to install a dimmer switch so that you can adjust the light levels according to the time of day or the occasion. When you choose to turn off the overhead light completely, ‘side lighting’ in the form of table lamps, floor lamps and wall lamps will come to the fore.
Table lamps are the most frequently used lamps around the home, partly because of the wide range of styles available and partly because of their versatility. The size and shape of a table lamp will dictate where the lamp is positioned in the room; wide table lamps look great solo on a side table beside the sofa, whereas taller, narrow table lamps (such as the column style) work best in pairs on a mantelpiece or console. Consider the surface on which the lamp will sit; reflective materials such as glass, mirror or metal will assist in the distribution of light around the room, whilst also creating interesting shadows and light patterns.
Think front-to-back as well as top to bottom when designing your lighting scheme; to light your sitting area from a different angle, why not place table lamps on a console table behind your sofa?
Where space is tight in a smaller living room, consider using a floor lamp instead; it will add another layer of light and will take up very little room.
The purpose of dining room lighting is to create the ideal balance of ambient, accent and task lighting for entertaining, relaxing and more importantly, eating. Whilst you need to be able to see the food on your plate and the people sitting at your table, you also want to create the right mood.
If you’ve a high ceiling in your dining room, why not start with a low-hanging ceiling light, which should be centred directly over the middle of the table, ideally on an adjustable chain that allows you to position it at the optimum height. Those with long linear tables should consider hanging two or three evenly spaced pendant lights over the table to cover the full length, so that nobody is left sitting in the dark.
After dinner, overhead lighting can be turned off or dimmed in favour of mid-level lighting from wall or table lamps which can also be used to provide accent lighting for pictures or decorative pieces. As a finishing touch don’t forget candles on the table.
The lights beside your bed are probably the best used lamps in your house; used daily, they are essential all year round and, what’s more, they are likely to be the most prominent accessories in your bedroom. If you’re decorating from scratch, it’s a good idea to install your bedside lamps on a dedicated 5amp circuit with switches either side of the bed and by the door, so you can switch the lights on as you enter the room, and then off again when you’re in bed.
Like to read in bed? When choosing your bedside lamps, pay attention to height: to provide sufficient light when reading in bed, the lower edge of the lampshade should be well above the height at which a book is held.
No space for a bedside table? Wall lamps are an ideal solution where space is limited or where you want to keep bedside table surfaces free.
Use a lower wattage bulb for softer lighting. It’s well worth experimenting with different strengths of bulbs and with various lampshades to create the effect that you want; you can always increase the wattage when the clocks change back again.
Ample light is essential when it comes to your home office. Whilst we’re firm believers that lamps should tick the boxes of both form and function, the lighting scheme in your study should ensure that function is prioritised to prevent eye strain or bad posture, especially if you use your office a lot. Of course, just because a study calls for task lighting, it needn’t be plain or boring: in fact, a lamp with a bit of character could prove to be an inspiration when writer’s block strikes!
Dedicated reading lamps are ideal on a desk; our adjustable table lamp has an articulated arm allowing precise directional lighting when required.
A pair of small column lamps at each end of the desk will distribute ample light across your paperwork, without taking up too much valuable work space.
Angled lamps are great for close up work; turn them on even if you’ve got light shining on your desk from other sources.
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