Designing the lighting in your home
Make a statement, create ambiance and plan ahead: why lighting your home is one of the biggest design considerations you’ll face – and how to nail it.
Whether you want to make a statement or simply create a bit of ambience, there’s plenty to consider when choosing lights for your home. When it comes to doing it yourself, we’ve got you covered.
If you thought the art of lighting was as simple as screwing in a bulb and flicking a switch, then think again. From ceiling lights, spotlights and wall sconces, to pendants, floor lights and table lamps, the possibilities are vast - and the effects vary.
The good news is that Denise Hammond, Product Knowledge Development Specialist from Beacon Lighting is on hand to share her expert advice so that you’re not left in the dark when it comes to seeing the light.
“If there was one piece of advice I would give people who were building or renovating, it would be don’t leave your lighting until the last minute,” says Denise.
“Most homes tend to have a generic lighting plan that comes with the house – and while perhaps well meaning, chances are it won’t take into consideration things like lighting levels, colour quality, reflective and non-reflective surfaces and even your furnishings.”
The right light
You can spend all the money you want on an interior designer, but choose the wrong lighting and it may as well go to waste, says Denise. Grey walls may suddenly take on a funny shade of lilac and lounge rooms can end up with as much ambience as a dentist’s office. Consider whether you want the glow of a warm or cool light, as this will considerably change the look and feel of a room.
“The colour of light is referred to as Degrees Kelvin – the higher the Degree of Kelvin, the more cool or bluish-white the light is going to be. A lower Degree of Kelvin the warmer or yellowish-white it’s going to be,” says Denise. “Before you decide on your lighting, it’s helpful to see a specialist. We can take your paint samples and pop them in a lightbox which will show you what the outcome will be depending on the colour temperature of the light. It may reassure you that you’ve made a right choice – but it also gives you the opportunity to change your mind.”
Make a statement
There’s something to be said for form and function. The lights in your home can multitask as a piece of art. “If you do have a focal point in your room – why not give it some impact with a statement chandelier or pendant?” offers Denise. Striking floor lamps and chic table lamps are an additional option, though Denise suggests that track lighting (where lights are fitted on tracks and can be positioned in a variety of directions) can be an affordable way of creating impact. “Track lighting has been maligned for many years, but look at Pinterest or Vogue Living these days and it’s clear it’s making a comeback,” she says. “It allows you to take a room that’s only lit from a single point and create multi-point lighting. It gives you the ability to add and subtract lighting as you wish, creating light and shade.”
Set the mood
Want to turn down the lights and dial up the ambience? Having the option of a dimmer switch will sort that problem out easily, but Denise advises also thinking about how you’re going to live in the space. “With a bit of forethought, you can focus downlights where you’ll need them most (desks, kitchen counters, etc.),” she says.
Remember, lighting is much more than just lights in the ceiling. “You can also have recess lighting installed down low. That’s stunning in an entry – it’s dim and impactful. Hallways and thoroughfares are designed to get you from one large space to another – they don’t need to be so bright that you can read a newspaper,” says Denise. And if you’re really committed to the well-lit cause? Denise suggests getting an electrician to modify your lamps. “You flick one switch and [all] the lamps go on! It always makes visitors gasp – and it looks wonderful.” Now that’s what you call a bright idea.
The lowdown on LED
LED lighting has been around for a number of years, yet many people still don’t understand why it’s important. To begin with, they’re extremely energy efficient. A standard 60w lightbulb uses 60 watts of electricity and lasts about 1000 hours. A similar LED uses only about seven-10 watts of electricity but will last for, on average, 30,000 hours. Impressive!
They’ll also help you save on electricity. Insert one LED bulb in your house and you may not notice a difference. Change them all and there’s no doubt you’ll notice your electricity bill go down over time. LEDS are incredibly versatile too. “You can use LED lights in just about everything – they’re basically an electronic light source,” says Denise. Like standard bulbs, they also come in a range of colours – or Degree Kelvin. Be aware though, they don’t all work with a dimmer switch. Ask first before you buy.