Light’s fan­tas­tic

LUKE RIX-STAND­ING re­veals nifty ways to give any home that

Gloucestershire Echo - - YOUR HOME -

ASK ANY In­te­rior de­signer: Light is one of – if not the – most im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion in the lay­out of a home. Quite apart from be­ing es­sen­tial (cook­ing in the dark is not ad­vised), light pro­vides the frame­work for a home’s aes­thetic, and the foun­da­tion for its – to use a tech­ni­cal term – am­bi­ence. Here’s how to make your home the bright­est and best it can be, from stream­ing sun­beams to en­ergy-sav­ing LEDS...

MAKE A PROPER PLAN

MOST peo­ple know that when it comes to light sources, more is usu­ally mer­rier. But the re­sult is that home­own­ers load up ex­pen­sive fix­ings with­out tak­ing care of even the sim­plest prac­ti­cal al­ter­ations.

For im­me­di­ate im­prove­ment, a short recce goes a long way: Look at the lo­ca­tion of your win­dows, what they’re il­lu­mi­nat­ing, and what you want them to il­lu­mi­nate. Take a note of where the sun comes from in each part of the day, and if any rooms seem par­tic­u­larly drab and gloomy.

With your stock-take com­plete, move furniture that might be block­ing a win­dow’s view, and clear out clut­tered win­dowsills. If you have sev­eral elec­tric lights cov­er­ing a space usu­ally bathed in sun­shine, re­jig your room rather than spend­ing a for­tune adding to it.

Con­sider mov­ing obstacles out­side your home too. If your hy­drangea has launched a hos­tile takeover against your win­dow­panes, it’s time to pick up the gar­den shears.

90% LIGHT, 10% DARK

YOUR next key point should be colour. Pure white sur­faces can feel a lit­tle cold, but off-white or light cream is a must for walls and ceil­ings when cul­ti­vat­ing a brighter feel.

Soft hues ab­sorb far less light than dark ones, and for the most ra­di­ant rooms you should look beyond the ma­sonry. Con­sider pas­tel-coloured cup­boards, pale wood furniture, or light-hued dec­o­ra­tions. There’s noth­ing wrong with a black leather sofa, or some state­ment, pat­terned wall­pa­per, but they won’t nec­es­sar­ily help your rooms re­tain light.

Aes­thet­i­cally, many de­sign­ers opt to add in darker trim­mings. Cush­ions, knick-knacks and other smaller fur­nish­ings look great in dark grey or navy, and pro­vide con­trast with­out sig­nif­i­cantly sac­ri­fic­ing light.

LOTS OF MIR­RORS

IF YOU want to in­crease your in­take of nat­u­ral light, mir­rors are per­haps the most literal way of do­ing so. They re­flect light that would oth­er­wise be ab­sorbed into the wall, and hang­ing one op­po­site a win­dow sends day­light bounc­ing round the room.

Wall-mounted mir­rors are a go-to for grooming as much as for decor, and fashion-con­scious bed­rooms of­ten boast some­thing free-stand­ing and full-length. An­other op­tion would be mir­rored furniture – mir­rored ta­bles, mir­rored wardrobes, even a mir­rored chest of draw­ers.

Large mir­rors give the il­lu­sion of a much larger, lighter space, and if the room feels bright and breezy, so too will its re­flec­tion.

WIN­DOW DRESS­ING

YOUR win­dows are your main al­lies in your fight for light, so you’d be wise to give them plenty of ten­der lov­ing care.

Blinds are a good bet, leav­ing the win­dow en­tirely ex­posed when open and cre­at­ing lovely lines of light when down. Al­though you won’t get a to­tal block, so they are less ad­vis­able for light sleep­ers.

Light linen or cot­ton cur­tains are sim­i­larly ap­pro­pri­ate – and can be hung in lay­ers to more closely con­trol the flow of light. Heav­ier, thicker fab­rics like vel­vets and bro­cades are gen­er­ally more use­ful for block­ing light, while wide-slat shut­ters are flex­i­ble and give a flavour of the Mediter­ranean.

THE LIGHT­ING OF THE LAMPS

NAT­U­RAL light tends to gob­ble up the head­lines, but ar­ti­fi­cial light is where the buck stops.

Let’s di­vide it into three stylis­tic va­ri­eties. Am­bi­ent light­ing dif­fuses evenly through a room, and is usu­ally the start­ing point for a larger scheme.

Think ceil­ing lights, per­haps in­te­grated with lamps on floors or ta­bles.

Nat­u­rally, am­bi­ent light­ing isn’t strong on con­trast, so try some ac­cent light­ing to help in­stil sep­a­ra­tion. Ac­cent light­ing is brighter and much more di­rec­tional, en­sur­ing cen­tre­pieces like din­ing room ta­bles get the fo­cus they de­serve.

Make sure these lights are not so con­cen­trated that they be­have like spot­lights. You don’t want to chan­nel the sort of ag­gres­sive glare nor­mally re­served for po­lice in­ter­ro­ga­tion rooms.

Fi­nally, con­sider task light­ing – very strong light sources mar­shalled for spe­cific pur­poses, such as desk lamps that can il­lu­mi­nate a key­board clear as day, or a row of bulbs as flood­lights for a work­top.

There’s no point il­lu­mi­nat­ing the cor­ri­dor with pixel-per­fect high-def, if your closet is so dimly-lit all your darker clothes merge into one.

Keep these prin­ci­ples in mind when al­lot­ting wattage in your home, and where pos­si­ble try be­fore you buy. Road-test bulb bright­ness, or bet­ter yet, em­ploy a dim­mer switch.

WASH YOUR WALLS

NO, not with soapy wa­ter – in this con­text wash­ing your wall means to splash light across a sur­face, cre­at­ing the il­lu­sion that the whole room is aglow.

Con­sider ver­ti­cal light fix­ings, that send a warm light up­wards and down­wards, cre­at­ing a sheet-like glow across a wall. It’s bet­ter to bathe an area with one ef­fec­tive light source than pep­per it with unattrac­tive fix­ings.

STRUC­TURAL CHANGES

FOR those with the time, in­cli­na­tion and, most of all, the money, there are plenty of home im­prove­ments that can turn dingy dun­geon to gleam­ing green­house. Some are ob­vi­ous – more and big­ger win­dows, glass pa­tio doors and so on – but oth­ers are slightly less in­tu­itive.

Sky­lights are an oft-ne­glected sub-genre of win­dow – the light comes straight from source and can of­ten spread across the en­tire floor.

Thick-set, dark-coloured doors can keep nat­u­ral light from reach­ing the heart of your home, so con­sider glass pan­elling on in­ter­nal doors. Or go one bet­ter by em­brac­ing a more open-plan lay­out through­out your home.

Though not tra­di­tion­ally a light-emit­ting sur­face, even the floor can play its part. Opt­ing for pol­ished, well-fin­ished hard­wood, ce­ramic or stone can keep light ric­o­chet­ing off your in­te­ri­ors like an un­der­foot mir­ror.

Large win­dows, light paint­work and a pol­ished floor will make the most of ev­ery ray of sun­shine

Sky­lights are of­ten ne­glected, but they can de­liver a heav­enly, wide­spread glow

While the whole room might en­joy an am­bi­ent glow, a fo­cussed spot­light will make work­ing easy

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