HOW TO GET LIGHT RIGHT
Interiors guru James Treble shares some bright ideas.
James Treble has plenty of bright ideas to help you sort your home’s lighting.
Q What’s the first thing you ask a client about lighting for a new room? A Whether I’m working with clients on a brand-new home or on a renovation, the first thing we discuss is how they want to use the room.
It’s important to clearly define the expected use of the room, to ensure that the lighting requirements are properly met.
Based upon the brief, we look at the layout of the room and take into consideration the entry and exit points, the location of proposed furniture pieces, any requirements for existing furniture pieces, like large sideboards or oversized dining tables, as well as key features like artwork and accessories. Q How do you make sure the lighting in your kitchen works well? A Overhead lighting, such as downlights or track lighting, is practical in this busy hub of the home. I usually place a row of downlights closer to the cabinets so the benches are not overshadowed when you’re preparing food.
I also suggest under-cabinet lighting, which is both practical and stylish. These can be left on, and the overhead lights off, for a softer-lit space.
It’s common to highlight the kitchen island with hanging pendant lights and these fittings can add style and drama to the space. I always suggest an odd number, usually three is the perfect number, but this must relate to the size of the island bench.
Depending upon the style of the home, some of my clients also add additional feature lighting, such as under-cabinet lighting running along the skirting boards or kickplate. Q What’s the difference between “warm” and “cool” light, and how do you choose the right light bulb for the room? A There are generally two different types of light bulbs, which are broken down into cool and warm light. Warm light, as the name suggests, is considered warmer, more inviting and is mostly used in rooms that require atmosphere, such as bedrooms and living areas. The cooler white light is brighter and more intense and is therefore better suited to work areas, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
You also need to take into account personal taste and house style, with warmer light generally better suited to traditional colour schemes and cool white light working well with modern homes that have brighter, whiter interior schemes. Q How do you create mood lighting in a living room? A The best lighting schemes are usually a mix of overhead functional lighting and mood lighting. In the living room, it’s all about balance. Start with your ceiling or overhead lighting – it may be clean rows of LED downlights allowing you to have a bright and light interior and make the room feel large and open, or it may be a mix of feature light fittings above the living area and dining table.
In terms of mood, consider where accent or feature lighting can be utilised. If you’re building or renovating, think about wall lighting, which can highlight an artwork or an interior feature like a fireplace. If your home is existing, this same effect can easily be achieved using a combination of table and floor lamps.
Q What are the pros and cons of downlights? A Downlights provide low-impact, non-intrusive overhead lighting and sit snugly into the ceiling cavity for a clean, uncomplicated look. This works especially well if you have low ceilings. They do occupy room for the fitting inside the ceiling cavity so, if space is tight, or you have a timber ceiling joist in the way, they may not fit exactly where you want them to.
Q What’s the key to great bedroom lighting? A It’s about creating a balance of functional and mood lighting. The stars are usually bedside lamps, which are a great way to add pattern and colour to the room, provide a focal point to help “frame” the bed, and offer practical light for reading.
For something different, why not have your electrician install hanging pendants from the ceiling, which hover just above your bedside tables. Remember that the height of these should work for reading in bed, so they will sit lower than normal fittings, approximately 30-50cm above the bedside table top. Another important consideration is to allow for switches on either side of the bed so that you can turn off the main ceiling lights without having to get up. Q What’s the biggest mistake people make with lighting in general? A To go with one standard light fitting in the middle of the ceiling. Good lighting is all about options, about changing how a space can feel – this is the magic of a clever lighting plan. You can easily add a table lamp and maybe change up some of your globes this weekend, and almost instantly you will have added options to your room with the intensity and amount of light available. This will have a huge effect on how you feel.
Of course, it’s always worth talking to the experts, so if you’re planning a renovation or building a new home, I would suggest meeting with a lighting specialist or qualified interior designer first. There are some simple things you can do yourself, though – like swapping light bulbs and adding or moving around lamps – that can change the mood of a room and have an impact on how everyone enjoys your home.
Good lighting is all about options, about changing how a space can feel.
FROM THE EXPERT
James Treble is a qualified colour consultant/interior designer with over 20 years’ experience within the building and design industries. ACCENT LIGHTING Hang a row of striking pendants above the kitchen island.
AMBIENT LIGHTING Choose a bulb with a warm white light to create a cosy feel in the living area. ACCENT LIGHTING Highlight an artwork with a carefully positioned downlight. TASK LIGHTING Under-cabinet downlights in the kitchen illuminate work areas.