How to use lightling in Interior Design
Lightling is crucial to the success of any room scheme. Good lighting not only illuninates the room, throwing targeted light onto work areas but it also gives a room depth and character.
Good lighting will enhance the colour scheme of a room.
When you are developing your room scheme make sure that you consider lighting as one of your top priorities. Get it right and the results can be amazing, get it wrong and you could be very disappointed.
Good lighting will add depth to your room scheme by creating intimate areas, or throwing pools of light onto walls and ceiling and highlighting both architechture and artwork.
What job does lighting perform?
Good visability in any room is important. Each room needs good 'background' lighting. Most often this is generated from ceiling lights either pendant, flush or recessed spots style. Some rooms have wall lighting that provides this general illumination. On occasions a room may be illuminated from the natural daylight, though at night an alternative source of lighting is necessary.
Many rooms of the home serve specific tasks such as preparing food at counter level in the kitchen, reading a book in a comfortable armchair in the living room, washing and applying makeup in the bedroom and bathroom or studying in the home office. This form of lighting should be from a directional source that allows light to fall from above or directly infront of the task. Examples of this style of lighting would be an anglepoise lamp on a desk or an under cupboard light in the kitchen.
Display/ Atmospheric Lighting
Here the purpose of the lighting is to create drama in the room by illuminating displays, artwork or perhaps a particular feature, such as striking architecture.. Examples of this sort of lighting are picture lights and lights fitted into alcoves.
Safety/ Security Lighting
All rooms need general lighting but some areas need good lighting to ensure safe movement. In hallways and on stairwells lighting should be sufficient to ensure that anyone can see clearly to move safely.
Lighting may also be employed to act as a deterent as in security lighting outside buildings.
So what sort of lighting to use in which rooms?
Each room in a property is used for different functions. After all do you cook in your living room? Put makeup on in the dining room? Read a book in your hallway? Dress in your kitchen...well you might but most of us don't.
Knowing what functions you use each room for helps in the planning of lighting in a property or room scheme.
Entrances & passageways
For safety these need to be well lit. An entrance area should be warm and welcoming but avoid lighting that is directed onto the front door, as this will blind any visitor.
I like to use some pool lighting such as wall lights and side lamps to create a bit of depth in this often neglected area.
Good lighting (and use of colour and mirrors) can enhance the feeling of space in these often narrow areas.
Living Rooms, Reception Rooms
These rooms often perform many different functions, from welcoming guests and socialising in, during the day, to relaxing and snuggling down with a book, in front of the TV or just in front of a roaring fire (itself a source of atmospheric lighting) at night or on lazy weekends.
Multifunction rooms need multi level lighting. Team general lighting from central or overhead lighting in the form of pendant or recessed spot lighting with task lighting near to seating such as floor standing or table lamps that direct most of the light down to the specific area but perhaps a little light up towards walls and ceiling.
I like to have general lighting fitted with a dimmer facility so that it can be turned down to provide a very low level of background illumination, allowing the task and display lighting to take centre stage.
Use lighting in this room to demark different areas e.g. a reading corner with cosy low level task lighting and perhaps a brighter table area for carrying out a favourite hobby.
Good background and task lighting is essential for safety in any kitchen. However as well as a safe working space you also want an enjoyable one to work in. There is nothing worse than always working in your own shadow, which is what will happen if the only light is from a central ceiling lamp.
Good use of ceiling spots can throw light down onto the work surface or kitchen table.
Under cupboard lighting will direct task illumination for you to work in comfort and safety. Many cooker hoods have integrated lighting to help illuminate your hob area as well.
If your main eating area is a kitchen table then consider a 'rise and fall' lamp postioned over the table to throw light over the main eating area. You will find that you need many more lighting sources in a kitchen to the other rooms due to the need to have light on all surfaces and also illuminating the room generally.
Like many rooms nowadays, bedrooms perform many different roles during our daily lives. They are not just the place that we lie down and go to sleep in.
This is the space that you retire to at the end of the day. A place to unwind, perhaps read before enjoying a good nights sleep.
This is also a place that you wake up in, dress and perhaps apply your makeup.
On occasions you will need different lighting again, in the evening, should you be changing clothes to go out.
Further still, some people have a small office or study area in one corner of the bedroom.
For this reason getting the light right is as important as any other room in the house.
One central pendant light will not fulfill all the above needs. Remeber how unpleasant it is trying to read in bed by the single pendant lamp, or put your makeup on in your own shadow, because there is no light near the mirror, or try and choose something from the wardrobe without strong enough lighting.
My recipe is:
General Lighitng - Pretty central display lamp such as simple chandelier or other attractive shade.
Bedside Lighting - some talbe height lamps either on the bedside table or fitted to the wall to throw light gently towards anyone who might be sitting in bed. One on either side, no bare bulbs that would 'glare'. Ensure that lamps can be operated without having to get out of bed.
Side lighting - near to dressing tables or vanity units. A table lamp or wall light that throws light down onto the user - warm lighting not harsh Halogen lighting.
Cupboard Lighting - if possible to illuminate the contents of the wardrobe and allo user to see themselves illuminated in full lendth mirrors.
Desk Lamp - if a small office area is being accommodated in this room.
You may also have a simple bedroom chair that you wish to read in and in this case a simple floor lamp will throw light over the shoulder of anyone seated in the chair.
Though less and less properties have rooms solely put aside for the function of dining, we often have freinds and family to eat around a table.
These rooms are very often used in the evening. Lighting that mimics the soft effect of candle light is very successful in these rooms. A central light that hangs low over the table will give a gentle light at the right level.
Wall lights and sconces as well as floor uplighters can add further depth and drama to these rooms that are being used in a very social way.
I mentioned candles, and this is a very important source of lighting, though not generally used in the rest of the house, it is very successfully employed as part of the overall lighting in a dining room.
There are laws and guidlines for what sort of light fittings you can use in bathrooms/ shower rooms and areas that generate a lot of steam and spash. Check up on the 'Zones' that lighting can be used in (see the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting or NICEIC for short contact details below).
In bathrooms it is a good idea to have some good overall general lighting which is enhanced with good task lighting, such as over mirror lighting or some form of directional lighting.
Ilike to vary the level of lighting in the bathroom by being able to adjust the level of lighting for different moods.
Sometimes it is nice to just relax in a bath with a very subtle low level lighting.
Dont forget about using candles in the bathroom for the ultimate in mood lighting.
Lighting - Elizabeth Wilhide
Why are we so bad at lighting our homes?
I have to say that in my career I find people pay less attention to this than to any other aspect of interior design, and so often I feel that it should be one of the starting points.
All too often lighting is seen (ooooops there I go again with puns) as an after thought...NO NO NO time for a lesson in using this most important and exciting elements of design.