The Art of Illumination: How to Light Your Home
Light is crucial for life. Whether it be natural light from the sun and moon, or artificial light, the way that we illuminate the spaces we inhabit can have a massive effect on how we experience them, and how they make us feel. You can spend all the money, time, and expertise you want on designing, decorating and furnishing a room, but if the lighting is wrong, all of this will be wasted, and the effect will fall flat.
So for bright, beautiful spaces that create the mood you’re looking for in your home, from sombre and peaceful, through functionally luminous, all the way through to warm and cosy, here are some guidelines for lighting your home successfully.
Focus on the features
Lighting has the power to highlight an object when it’s fully illuminated, or make it recede into ambiguity if it’s in the shadows. Take advantage of this by highlighting the best features of your room, be they an attractive armchair, a fabulous piece of art, or even an interesting plant. This will lend a sense of contrast and drama to the room which makes any design look more ‘expensive’ than it really was.
Make the fitting a statement
Lights aren’t just great because of the illumination they provide; the fitting itself can make a striking statement piece to spice up a dull room. Don’t be afraid to get eclectic with styles, and don’t forget that boot sales, charity shops, and antique fairs are great sources of hidden gems that could completely change the aspect of a room.
Plan where the shadows will fall
Plan your lighting before you install it, especially if it’s fixed into the wall or ceiling. Don’t make the mistake of accidentally leaving something crucial, like a step up into the room, without safe illumination.
Dimmers for versatility
Dimmers are a designer’s best friend, allowing you to vary the intensity of the light and go from bright and functional to moody and atmospheric in a quick twist of the switch.
Task lighting for practicality
Lamps are crucial, not just for creating multi-level illumination that creates a welcoming glow in the room, but also for comfortably executing tasks without straining your eyes. Reading, sewing, cooking: anything that requires focus on details – should have a focussed light to illuminate the work area.
Suit the purpose of the room – some quick tips
Choose plenty of lamps and dimmers for your sitting room, not forgetting that the bottom of a standard lampshade should be at shoulder height if you don’t want light shining directly in your face.
In the bathroom, have a pair of wall mounted side lights level with your eyes for makeup application, with a source above to fill in the shadows.
Used recessed or track lights for the kitchen, pendants over an island or bar, and a main overhead source for general illumination.
Have subdued, warm lighting in the bedroom, with the bottom of the bedside lampshades at 16-18 inches from the top of the mattress.
The dining room chandelier shoulder measure half to three-quarters the width of the table so it doesn’t cast shadows on the people sitting around it, and should hang 36-48 inches above the table top.
So whatever your design desires, don’t forget to take time to get the lighting right, transforming a flat and featureless place into an atmospheric, dramatically lit space that suits its purpose perfectly.