Lighting your home: five steps to success

Industrial Wren kitchen with pendant lighting

As obvious as it may sound, the lighting in your home can make or break your design scheme. How you feel in a room is largely dependent on how it is lit.

Think about when and where you are most relaxed – it most likely won’t be under the glare of a fluorescent overhead tube in the kitchen or a bathroom spotlight, but rather in a bright, warm, and sun-flooded space.

Whether you are designing an illumination scheme using a floorplan of a space still to be built or renovating a room you already live in, it’s important to know where the natural light is coming in and at what time of the day. Ideally begin making provisions when planning the plumbing – so early on – and think about exactly where furniture will go.

PLANNING A RENOVATION? GET YOUR INSPO (AND INFO) HERE: New year, new project

While task lighting is key and functionality paramount, also consider the overall atmosphere. If you’re planning an open-plan kitchen, think about zones bright enough for food preparation and ambient lighting over your dining space so you can relax during meals.

Kitchen with layered lighting scheme

When creating a lighting scheme, think about adding different layers, to separate between task illumination and ambient light. This kitchen design, for example, features a statement table lamp. The cordless Highclere design in Amber with Mustard shade by Alexander Joseph is priced £2316 and not only adds impact, but also creates a relaxed ambience.

You might also like a lamp or wall light in another corner, where you can place a chair or sofa as a cosy reading spot while dinner bubbles away.

In the bathroom, focused task illumination around the mirror and near the shower or bath is important – but you might also be after a warm, spa-like feel with dimmable wall lights. Bedrooms are usually spaces to relax and unwind, but you will need a reading light, too, and perhaps a fixture over your dressing table – so your scheme needs to reflect that.

I’ve just completed a massive renovation of my house and to say my husband and I have slipped up a few times is an understatement.

But I have learned some things, too, which I am going to share – so you don’t make the same mistakes.

Green-gray Mereway kitchen

A skylight paired with pendants lets plenty of light into this kitchen from Mereway. Spots integrated into the cabinetry illuminate the worktop below to make tasks easier. Price on application.

I wish…

we had done away with a central light in each room when we had the chance and just had wall fixtures instead

Most of us think we still need to have a central lamp in a room, but we really don’t. There is no reason to illuminate the whole space – that goes for kitchens and bedrooms as much as bathrooms.

I now think it is actually more important to have lots of pools of accent lights and create areas where they blend together for a layered effect, which is easier to do when designing from scratch.

John Cullen Lighting scheme with illuminated headboard and pendant

A headboard is not only for comfort – if you add an LED strip, such as in this John Cullen Lighting scheme, it can also wash soft illumination up the walls. Pair with bedside pendants and a focused, adjustable reading lights for a layered scheme that makes reading and relaxing a breeze. Price on application.

Use a combination of lamps in order to switch their intensity up and down, according to the mood you wish to create. This is a massive chance to make a big difference to your interior scheme – use it wisely.

we had fitted more dimmable lighting

It seems crazy now, but when the electrics were going in, I paid a lot of attention to the bedroom and kitchen but didn’t think as much about hallways – and of course I now wish I had put wall lights on dimmers, for more atmosphere, rather than choosing pendants which have exactly two settings: on or off.

Illuminated mirror

An illuminated mirror is an ideal way to add some soft light into the bathroom – but why not place one in the hallway, too, to make a design statement and add extra ambience? The Eclipse illuminated mirror, shown here in chrome, costs £169.99 from My Furniture.

How connecting rooms are lit is key for the overall ambience.

The more sockets you have the better, too, as you can plug in freestanding fixtures without having to resort to multiple (definitely not pretty) plug boards.

we had spent more time thinking about where to place light switches

I really did think about this… but I still got it wrong in places. So instead of all of them being accessible, I seem to have forgotten a few key things – such as making sure you have one at the top of the stairs to turn off everything downstairs and vice versa.

Garden trading industrial bathroom scheme with wall lighting

Wall-mounted lights next to the mirror make shaving and applying makeup easier, as they won’t cause shadows to fall across your face. These Southbank outdoor wall lights from Garden Trading are priced £55 each.

I had put in the big-ticket lights while the builders were on site

It would have been much easier if I had thought about standout fixtures before the builders had left. Instead, I have a garage full of my favourite lamps I have bought since we’ve moved back in (around a year ago…) – and now I need to pay another electrician to come put them up.

I had thought more about our bathrooms

Soft whites are cosy. Bright, cool tones bring energy. Our small ensuite somehow ended up with both, which simply doesn’t work.

Our larger family bathroom only has two big overhead lights – no task illumination around the mirrors. I now wish I had added LED strips there, to protect my husband from nicking himself every time he shaves.

It’s all about learning, isn’t it? So take heed of my findings and you’re looking at a bright future.

Featured image: To mix up the classic ‘pendants over island’ look, why not opt for exposed statement bulbs, such as in this scheme by Wren Kitchens? Using the Milano Elements range in Metallic Slate, the design as shown here would cost £5594.

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