Let there be lights
Getting lighting right at home is more important than you think, writes Julia Gray. Here are some points to consider when planning electrical work
Lighting should be at three levels in a room – the floor, walls and ceiling, so think about all three.
Plan your scheme in advance – if you’re having electrical work done, make sure the sockets are fitted where you want your table and floor lamps, for example.
Lighting can be much more creative and useful than just an overhead light in each room. In bedrooms, do you want wall lights over the bed for reading, or will bedside lamps do?
Don’t forget wall lights in the bathroom, perhaps for creating a rel a x ing atmosphere when you’re soaking in the tub, and on either side of the mirror for shaving and applying makeup. An illuminated mirror is another option. Target lighting, especially in kitchens, can be both practical and attractive. Consider fitting statement pendant lights low over a kitchen island unit or dining table for a fantastic feature and, often, a softer way to light the room than with spotlights. If you enjoy cooking, lights to illuminate the kitchen worktops (fitted under the wall units) may work well, and think about having strip lights along the wall units and/ or kick boards for a dramatic effect. If you’re doing major building work, such as an extension or loft conversion, you may be surprised how early you need to decide on the position of everything electrical and the number of sockets, spotlights, switches, etc.
In both extensions and loft conversions, recessed spotlights are often fitted throughout and although they’re not the cheapest, it’s a good idea to request LED bulbs.
Some electricians and builders fit LEDs as standard, but not all, and some building control inspectors insist that LEDs are fitted, but again not all.
LEDs are much cheaper to run than conventional bulbs and usually last much longer. They’ll also improve your home’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) if you ever decide to sell or rent out your home, so they’re well worth investing in.
In rooms with lots of recessed spotlights, ask your electrician to zone them so each zone (sitting area, kitchen, dining area, etc) is on a different switch, which will give you more flexibility and control.
You may also want dimmer switches so, again, the lighting’s fully controllable and you don’t have to sit and relax in bright overhead light. Another thing to consider is the colour of the LED bulbs because it will make a big difference to the overall effect – I recommend warm white bulbs for a cosy glow.
LIGHT FANTASTIC The right light will help you wind down and get a good night’s sleep
Choose lights with function in mind