How we plan the lighting in our homes tend to affect our well-being more than any other interior decision. Flat functional light, as in an office, puts people on the alert while decorative lighting creates mood and makes you feel warm and safe. Lighting seems to be the part of interior decoration people find the most challenging so we decided to do some reading up on the subject. This is what we learned.
The basics of modern lighting
Lighting design is broken down into three kinds of illumination: General lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. General lighting illuminates the entire room or space, and is created by up-lights or down-lights. It bounces off walls and ceilings to light up the whole area, and it covers the basic needs for visibility and safety. Task lighting illuminates smaller areas such as a desk or the kitchen countertops. These lamps should be around three times as bright as the general lighting. Good task lighting includes well-positioned pendants, table or floor lamps and under-cabinet lighting strips. Accent lighting is used to accentuate a certain object, a piece of art or an architectual feature of your home. With accent lights you need to be careful with dark shadows and bright glares.
8 tips for great lighting design
- Different lighting combinations create different ambiences. In a living room, for example, the recommendation is to have 5-10 different light sources, switched on according to your changing needs; movie watching, cleaning, reading, entertaining guests or just a lazy day on the sofa with your iPad.
- By placing light sources at different heights in a room you will create a more interesting environment for the eye. Try to play with light and shadows, but be aware of reflections.
- According to light designers, dimmers are essential in all rooms, but they are not restricted to ceiling lights. In the bedroom for example dimmers are great for the night stand lamps, to optimise the “reading in bed”- experience.
- A dark surface absorbs light, therefore darker rooms needs more light sources. Light drapes on the other hand help to spread the daylight in a room.
- In the dining room, if you make the table the brightest spot you draw people in. That’s probably where you want them to keep their attention. Use a chandelier or a pendant above the table for that. Elsewhere in the room, indirect lighting is best—it’s relaxing and flattering.
- In the bathroom lighting is recommended to be mounted on both sides of the mirror to cast even illumination across the face. Position the fixtures so the bottom edges of the shades are a little below eye level. You’ll need 700 to 1100 lm (Lumen) of light to put on make-up, so a 410 lm halogen lamp on each side will do. Add the overhead if you need more. However, we always suggest a quick check up in daylight before leaving the house.
- We love the soft pink light bulbs. They emit a gorgeous, rosy glow. Perfect for mood lighting in the living room, the dining room, or a bedroom. They say once you switch to pink, you’ll never go back.
- Every home should have a statement piece, something to make the guests talk and a place to rest your eyes while contemplating. Why not put your favourite heels in a back lit cabinet? Or highlight your collection of Star Wars figurines with a well placed spotlight? Think outside the box to make it personal.
To summarise: Try to arrange a mix of light sources at different levels to create a flattering ambience, and add appropriate task lighting for whatever you need to do in that space. Hope this can help you to see your home in a new light. Good luck!