Wading around in the dark over lighting options? ABI JACKSON asks some industry pros for their top tips on honing down the options
Getting the lighting right in your home is one of the most important elements, in terms of style, ambience and functionality. As Clare Griffin, lighting buyer for Habitat (habitat.co. uk), puts it: “Lighting can completely change the look and feel of interiors, so it should always be properly considered when you’re putting together a room design.”
It’s easy to think lighting is all about practicality, but it goes far beyond that – particularly for those looking to make a real statement in their homes. “Gone are the days when lighting was seen as just a means of seeing in the dark. Customers are now far more inclined to see lighting as the starting point for a design scheme and will spend accordingly,” agrees Mark Holloway, director at specialists Holloways of Ludlow (hollowaysof ludlow.com).
“Choosing a light has never been so exciting,” he adds. “Almost daily, exciting and innovative lights are launched, showcasing both design talent and new materials and technology.”
But where to start, and what if you’re a renter or on a budget, or just not entirely sure which style to go for? Here, experts outline some key questions to get you going... 1How will you be using the space? “THE most important question to start with, is what are you trying to achieve within the space? If you want a cosy, relaxing environment for a lounge or bedroom, then dimmer switches are key, combined with warm white light bulbs and diffused lighting, such as opal glass globes and lamp shades that soften light, and aren’t as harsh to the eye,” says Clare.
“In contrast, for rooms that are working environments, like the kitchen, office or bathroom, then bright white light bulbs are needed.”
“It’s very important to be crystal clear what function a particular light fitting will perform,” echoes Mark.
“For illuminating an entire space, ‘architectural’ lighting is often best.
This includes downlighting, spotlights, track systems and atmospheric lighting. For more focused illumination, task lighting is required – lighting used to help with specific activities in the home, such as reading, cooking and office work.” 2Consider your budget – as there may be additional costs CLARE says your budget should be a main starting point, as some lighting options can have extra costs.
“Anything involving an electrician is going to require more expense, so you need to consider what your electrical options are within the space,” she notes. “Where are the plug sockets located? Could you create a lighting scheme using just plug-in lamps, or using easy-fit shades on existing light fittings?” 3What decor vibe are you going for?
“IN terms of look, lighting can be used to enhance the decor scheme of a room. For a glamorous, luxe feel, then add a metallic contemporary chandelier. If you want a mid-century vibe, add a walnut floor lamp with a velvet shade,” suggests Clare. 4How could well-positioned lighting enhance the room’s dimensions? “LIGHTING can also change the perceived size of the room. Add up-and-down wall lights to a room with a low ceiling to give an illusion of height, or use a floor lamp to light dark corners to create the illusion of more space in the room,” says Clare. “For space with very high ceilings, add a large dramatic pendant to fill the space and bring the ceiling height down a little.” Lisa Broad, head of buying at Harveys (harveysfurniture.co.uk), suggests: “Lighting is the key to making your home cosy. In winter, ensuring your living space is full of soft lighting can add a seasonal ambience to your living space. Place lamps in front of mirrors to instantly double the amount of light in your room.” 5Do you want to make a statement? IF you want to make a statement, go for it. “Go large! You really can go bigger than you think,” says Mark. “The best lighting designs will work in any context. “A stunning contemporary pendant, such as a hand-blown glass pendant from Bocci, will work in almost any interior scheme – traditional or modern.” The same goes for colour as well as size, Mark adds: “After a number of years in the wilderness, colour is back. “Be bold and let your lighting bring some colour and fun into your home.” 6How can you still make an impact on a budget? DON’T have a big budget to play with but want to create some wow factor?
Be creative. “A lampshade with a pop of colour is a good way to make a statement – our French velvet and drum silk ranges do this well,” says Clare. “But the best way to make a statement on a budget, or if you are a renter, is through an easy-fit shade.
“These are designed to look like pendants but do not require an electrician, as they attach onto your light fitting like a lampshade. “This means different materials, like glass, metal, wood and rattans can be brought into the home without rewiring, and also means more decorative bulbs can be used to make a real statement. Our bestselling easy-fits include Elmley, Margate, Seasalter and Niquita.” 7Last but not least, do you love it?
FIND making decisions tricky? That’s natural, but at the end of the day, don’t be swayed too much by trends if it’s really not ‘you’.
“Ultimately, I always encourage my clients to be confident and choose lighting that they love and designs that make them smile,” says Mark.
Use a floor lamp to light dark corners to create the illusion of more space in the room
Filigrana Pendant range, from £230, Holloways of Ludlow
Seasalter metal ceiling shade in orange, £45, Habitat