When designing a room, one of the most important elements tends to get overlooked. Lighting is not only used so we can see clearly at night, it can also dramatically transform a space, whether it be to create a certain atmosphere or highlight a special area in the home.
Well-placed lighting has the power to change the way you feel when you walk into a room, whether it be more alert, relaxed, comforted or welcome. It can even affect our mood and how we interact in a space, so it is a really crucial element to get right from the start.
The importance of lighting
When planning your space, it is important to think of its function before you go ahead and purchase your lighting. Is this a place you would like to sit down and relax in or is it a space in which you need to be active? No matter what function you choose, your lighting will need to match this in order to achieve your design goals.
“If you don’t think about lighting from a functional perspective, then you’re not going to utilise the space,” says interior designer and renovation expert Naomi Findlay. “Think about what you’re going to use each room for in your home and what type of lighting you need for that purpose.
“Lighting creates a certain atmospheric feeling depending on what type is used. Warm lights create a cosy and comforting feeling, while bright lights make us feel alert, perfect for focusing on those tasks in the kitchen.”
When thinking about your room’s function and atmosphere, it is worth putting together a moodboard and getting creative. Naomi also suggests planning out the layout of your space to know where best to place your lighting options.
“There’s no use working out your lighting plan in your bathroom for example before you decide where your shower and vanity are going,” she says. “The same goes for your living and dining spaces. You can have an idea, but don’t finalise it before you decide how you are going to live in your home.”
Once you have successfully planned your design and chosen its function and atmosphere, it’s time to pick out what types of lights best suit your space.
Hanging pendants are great as they are both functional and create a certain ambience. You may think of using them in the traditional sense, such as hanging over a table, but they can also be used to light up other areas of the home.
“There are so many places you can position a pendant, such as over baths or vanities, or even positioned over your bedside tables,” says Naomi. “Having so many options to choose from is fantastic for families with young children, as you don’t have to worry about them knocking over any lamps.”
Pendants come in all shapes and sizes to suit a range of different locations and heights. They are great to highlight a small section of your home, such as where you are preparing meals, or to act as a striking feature, such as a chandelier in a hallway.
When designing your space, think of what lighting is needed in the room. Do you need the pendant to be used as task lighting to see details over a work space, such as above a table or kitchen bench? Or will it be an accent feature, illuminating a hallway or void area? Either way, make sure to keep your pendants to a minimum, so they really create an impact.
Never a wallflower
A beautiful wall light or sconce can completely change the mood of a room or hallway. Instead of a ceiling full of downlights, which can end up flooding the space with harsh light, versatile wall lights can be used to softly light a space.
By pointing them in different directions, wall lights can change the focus of a room. Point them upwards to softly illuminate the walls and ceiling or move their light downwards to highlight your favourite hanging artwork or sculpture.
Hallways and stairwells are perfect places to install wall lights as they can provide drama and impact to a space that is usually overlooked. They can also be used in bedrooms that need soft lighting to ease you into the land of nod.
Just remember to limit the amount of wall lights in a room. A few well-placed sconces should be all you need to suitably illuminate a space.
Lamps are great for adding functional lighting to a room. They can light up a spot next to your armchair or bed, so you can read, or be placed on a desk or workspace, so you can see your work in detail. According to Naomi, lamps are also great for creating layers to your space.
“If you have downlights, a lamp can be placed on the next level (just below eye level for example),” she says. “They can even highlight a beautiful piece of art or decoration.”
When setting up a lamp, make sure to place it as close as possible to a power point to avoid using daggy, and potentially hazardous, extension cords. If you do need to use a cord, try hiding it by running it behind furniture pieces such as a sofa or bedhead.