Ask the ex­pert

Light­ing

Country Life Every Week - - Ask The Expert - Tod­hunter Earle In­te­ri­ors (020–7349 9999; www.tod­hunterearle.com)

Moody or bright?

A mix is es­sen­tial so that you have the flex­i­bil­ity to set dif­fer­ent moods dur­ing the day and evening. Bright for read­ing, work­ing and prac­ti­cal tasks and dimmed for din­ing and re­lax­ing. Light­ing can make a huge dif­fer­ence to the at­mos­phere of a room and it needs to work for the way you live your life, so we start plan­ning it, fac­tor­ing in the wiring and cir­cuit re­quire­ments, at the very be­gin­ning of a project.

What is the se­cret to suc­cess­ful light­ing?

Think about cre­at­ing a bal­ance be­tween high, low and side light­ing, with a mix of floor and ta­ble lamps and wall and ceil­ing lights. Ev­ery light in the room must have a pur­pose, from il­lu­mi­nat­ing a pic­ture to high­light­ing a fea­ture. Don’t be tempted to scat­ter lights around the room in a gen­eral fash­ion, be­cause it re­ally won’t achieve very much.

Up­lights ver­sus down­lights?

Up­lights in the floor were once thought to be rather glitzy, but life has moved on. In re­al­ity, they are less in­tru­sive than a fea­ture fix­ture and they can be used in all sorts of ways, such as to highlight a pan­elled door, re­veal an arch­way, or used in a sill to make a fo­cal point of a beau­ti­ful win­dow.

Too many down­lights make a room feel like an air­port lounge and they are point­less, be­cause the light ends up be­ing ab­sorbed by the floor. It's much bet­ter to use them to do a job, such as an­gled to light a tall piece of fur­ni­ture or a pic­ture.

How do you light an en­trance hall?

The clas­sic ap­proach is a lan­tern or pen­dant, its size cho­sen to suit the scale of the space. If you have an enor­mous dou­ble-height hall­way, you need an enor­mous pen­dant to suit. Com­bine it with some tiny up­lights in the floor, some fea­ture light­ing in wall niches and per­haps some wall lights if needed and some pic­ture lights if you have some paint­ings to dis­play. I like halls to look quite calm and quiet and some sub­tle light­ing can help achieve this, with some gen­tle glow here and there.

And a sit­ting room?

There aren’t any golden rules, so just think about the pro­por­tions of the room and how you plan to use the space. Ta­ble lamps of­fer warm light­ing and a mix of dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes is im­por­tant to in­tro­duce light at dif­fer­ent heights, as well as to cre­ate char­ac­ter and a sense that the room de­sign has evolved over time. A pair of ta­ble lamps on a con­sole ta­ble or on both sides of a fire­place can look smart, as can some floor lamps, which are good for read­ing.

Don’t stress if you find it dif­fi­cult to find a shade to suit a lamp base. We have stacks and stacks of shades in our of­fice and we bring in ev­ery lamp, for ev­ery project, and try it with dif­fer­ent shades to find one that suits. There isn’t a se­cret for­mula—it’s like try­ing on a hat, you just know what looks silly.

I rarely use a ceil­ing light in a sit­ting room, be­cause light com­ing down over my head doesn’t make me feel com­fort­able, but I do like wall lights added into the mix, be­cause they add an­other layer of light­ing and help cre­ate that sense of balanced light, at sev­eral lev­els, in the room.

Any tips for light­ing the kitchen?

We live in our kitchens more and more, so choose light­ing that will give you flex­i­bil­ity, prefer­ably on dif­fer­ent and dimmable cir­cuits. Up­lighters above cup­boards can be used to cre­ate a warm glow in the evening, while light­ing un­der wall cab­i­nets is prac­ti­cal for il­lu­mi­nat­ing the work sur­face. Pen­dants above an is­land, serv­ing area or ta­ble will make a strik­ing fea­ture and I par­tic­u­larly like to in­clude a ta­ble lamp or two on a side­board or ta­ble to cre­ate a softer ef­fect.

What is your favourite light at home?

I have a rise-and-fall light with old-fash­ioned ceramic shades above my kitchen ta­ble. Up high, it de­liv­ers lots of light when I am work­ing at the ta­ble and, when pulled down, it makes a beau­ti­ful pool of light for a softer mood in the evening.

Some gen­tle glow here and there: Tod­hunter Earle and John Cullen Light­ing joined forces on the in­te­ri­ors of Madres­field Court in Worces­ter­shire (www.john­cul­len­light­ing.com)

Lu­cia Rise & Fall pen­dant, £450,

Hec­tor Finch (020–7731 8886; www. hec­torfinch.com)

In­te­rior de­signer Emily Tod­hunter shares her thoughts on suc­cess­ful light­ing

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