Seeing your home in a new light

Lighting the home involves more than replacing that blown bulb.

When decorating the home lighting is often considered as an after thought. Used correctly it will bring atmosphere and personality and is a feature that can most readily and economically be adjusted to suit your taste, needs and budget.

There is no right or wrong way to light a room, each room in the home has its own role to play in our daily lives. This must be taken into account when planning lighting, finding that balance between functionality, personality, whilst allowing for flexibility, remember our homes change character throughout the day.

A Warm Welcome

The hall is the first room a visitor will see; this area should use soft ambient light to give a warm and inviting atmosphere. Pictures and coat hooks may be highlighted with spotlights on track or individual picture lights to give focus and to direct people down the hall.

Halls are normally small, narrow and with little furniture, it is our link to the upper levels of the house and can become cluttered very quickly. Wall mounted lights are an ideal solution for the hall, making it feel more spacious and there is less chance of tripping over leads as you go around your busy day.

The stairs can be a dangerous place and requires practical lighting. They must be well lit to avoid casting dangerous shadows on the treads. Placing several lights strategically throughout this area can help solve this problem.

It is advisable to place a light at the top of the stairs rather than at the bottom this helps to avoid accidents, and remember the stairs should always be lit brighter than the hall.

Due to their physical design, these sometimes unusual shaped areas can be given character and enhanced by using track lighting and wall washing.

Porch lights can be used for security and lighting the steps and paths to the front of the house is both welcoming and helps avoid accidents.

The Chameleon

The living room has to have the most versatile lighting. It is the focal point for most families. The lighting needs to be flexible for the many and varied activities the room is used for.

If you think of the many ways the room is used, watching TV, socialising, children playing, relaxing and even hosting parties. Whatever the activity, the room needs to feel comfortable and a perfect setting for the activity.

Creating lighting layers will enable you to provide room lighting that can easily be adapted for most activities. The use of dimmer controls can aid you in controlling the rooms light levels, enhancing the mood and atmosphere.

By utilising the various types of lighting you can highlight major decorative features with track and spotlights or architectural features such as coving with uplighters.

The living room is the ideal room to explore using different lighting types to build different levels of light in a layered effect. Begin with your ambient lighting, uplighters, wall lights and downlighers recessed in the ceiling are a perfect choice. Then add your task lighting. Place table lamps in positions close to where you would normally sit if they are to be used for reading or hobby activities. Table lights should be arranged so that the bottom of every table lamp's shade should be just below the eye level of a seated person, this will help eliminate glare and provide the best light. When situated in other parts of the room table lamps will provide soft pools of light.

Now you can begin to build in more personality, identify any furniture, pictures or architecture you would like to draw attention to. Use accent lighting in the form of spotlights to achieve the desired effect. Accent lighting used in this way can also add depth to the room.

Choosing decorative lights is an ideal and cost effective way of bringing your personal style and taste to the room. Compliment your existing décor and the beauty is that these lights can easily be changed to give a new feel, to the room.

Where the heart is

In many houses the kitchen is the heart of the home and one of the busiest rooms. Its main function is food preparation. Besides this the kitchen is a room where we all seem to gravitate towards, for a chat, to socialise or have a meal.

Being a task focused area; a high level of clean bright light is needed so you can go about your work easily and safely. Whatever time of day the kitchen needs to be well lit. When you think of kitchen lighting fluorescent lighting comes to mind, though effective, track or recessed lighting can be just as effective.

Task lighting should be your starting point when lighting the kitchen. Look around the room and identify which areas you work in and make sure these areas are well lit. Under cupboard lighting will help illuminate work surfaces. Track lighting can be used to direct focus light around the room.

Always make sure that the lighting doesn't cause you to work in your own shadow. The use of fluorescent lights will create less shadow.

During the daylight hours there is normally enough ambient lighting in the kitchen. Remember to have a good ambient light source for the evening, fluorescent lighting is a good option.

Once you are happy, you can begin to add decorative touches so the room doesn’t feel so sterile. Bouncing light off kitchen objects such as bowls of fruit, kettles or utensils can bring atmosphere and a third dimension to the room. Projecting a relaxed sophistication to the room.

Where the kitchen is also used as a dining area, lighting should be used to help distinguish between the dual functions. Using pendent lights above the dining table can bring focus to the area, whilst using the kitchens task lighting as background light, making the dining experience feel more cosy and intimate.

Entertaining tonight

After the living room, the dining room is the main room for entertaining. The lighting needs to be relaxed and inviting when entertaining but also bright for its functional requirements.

Lighting the table with a pendant light gives a very dramatic effect when entertaining or for those romantic dinners for two. A chandelier would become a talking point of the room and a crystal chandelier will project beautiful light refractions around the area, especially from table silver and glassware. Again always try to use a dimmer for extra atmosphere.

Where the dining table is situated in a permanent position, do not hang the pendant light or chandelier over it too high. The ideal height is about 90cm from the surface of the table. With retractable pendant lights you can control the focus and intimacy levels.

Introducing picture lights into the dining area will always bring a pleasant comforting effect to the room.