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Let’s talk about lighting

All Areas > Homes & Gardens > Interior Design

Author: Gill Greenwell, Posted: Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 08:00

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Good lighting is key to creating atmosphere in a space; getting it right is at the heart of a comfortable home. In the winter months we can’t be so reliant on natural daylight and, as we will all need to be much more eco-conscious in the future, it’s a good time to review the options for creating an atmospheric, well-lit space.

Understand the jargon
The language of lighting can be confusing. In the past, the only available option was bright, fluorescent lighting. Halogen took over in the 70s, making it possible to create a warmer light and highlight different areas of a room.

Now, the energy efficient lighting of choice is LED, which is even more versatile. It can be used in strips under cupboards and shelves, and you can even get dimmable bulbs. LED emits a naturally cool light, so it’s important to use the right level of colour index (kelvin) for your bulbs – the higher the colour index, the cooler the light. Lighting expert Sally Storey recommends 2,200 to 2,700 kelvin or ‘warm white’ for most interiors.

Layer up
One thing interior designers agree on is that lighting should be layered. It’s not enough to have one overhead pendant in a room – you should have a mix of ambient, accent and task lighting.

Ambient lighting is achieved through overhead lights, on-trend wall lights, free-standing uplighters or table lights. Do fit dimmers where you can; I have them everywhere in my house. If you want to create some drama, use accent lighting for highlighting interesting features, such as old beams or a fireplace nook.

Focus on the task
Task lights are used to read by or to work by. With people increasingly working from home, task lights are even more important. I love a bright coloured angle poise lamp on a desk – John Lewis has a great selection. For reading, a free-standing lamp is always a good option in a sitting room, and don’t forget to have good bedside lights at the right level if you like to read in bed.

Kitchens and bathrooms
In kitchens and bathrooms, aim to balance ambience with task lighting. Spotlights work well over kitchen work surfaces, or add some LED strips under kitchen cupboards. Statement pendants look good over kitchen islands and dining tables.

In bathrooms, create a relaxing atmospheric glow over the bath and have separately switched task lighting over the basin for shaving or applying makeup.

Light and shade
For that finishing touch, why not treat yourself to some new lamps? I love a fancy statement table lamp, and there are some amazing shapes, colours and textures out there at the moment. Pooky is my go-to brand – look out for their outlet sales, or just swap out your old lampshades for some new ones. Your local charity shop will be happy to take them!

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