Let there be light…
Lighting can dramatically effect the perception of any room and therefore should be a key element in the design process. Not only can it affect the brightness of a room but can also have an effect on the wall colourings, cast shadows that will make the room appear smaller and have impact on the presentation of artwork.
I assume that the majority will know the importance of natural light when it comes to your health and the likes of work ethic and productivity and so all I will say on this matter is create as much of it as possible!
There are various categories of lighting and 1000’s to choose from within that, so here are some pointers to help you know where to begin. First of all, what effect are you trying to achieve? What is its function?
Provide overall, general lighting. When choosing the general light source for your room ensure you chose a style that fits in with the exiting decor, you want the lighting to compliment the room, not be the centre of attention. A general light should fill the room with a glow of light and soften shadows.
Task lighting is all about practicality. Task lighting allows us to fulfill a specific function or activity efficiently and safely, for example reading or cooking, the latter one I find of great importance and the best way to provide task lighting for cooking is to have under cupboard lighting, this way the light source is located between your head and the object you are focusing on, ensuring there are no shadows, maintaining safety at all times, this should ideally be the case for all task lighting. Recessed, track lighting and lamps are the most common types of task lighting.
If you are looking to highlight an item within your room, i.e. Artwork or an architectural detail, then accent lighting is what you need to look for. The focus should always be on illumination and not on the light source itself. In order to be effective, accent lighting needs to be at least 3 times brighter that the general lighting around it.
Most lighting can be decorative as well as functional, however there is some lighting specifically designed to add beauty or interest to a space. Lighting such as chandeliers and light sculptures can often give the illusion of lighting a room, as they are the most dramatic feature; however, more often than not it will be the accent, task and ambient lighting providing the general illumination. If any one decorative light source were to provide the main illumination for a room it would become the centre of attention and dominate the interior scheme.
Lighting can often have an effect on peoples moods without them realising so you need to consider what sort of mood you want to encourage within the room in question. Bright lights are upbeat and stimulating, whereas low lights have a more cosy, intimate feel. It is possible to achieve both these effects in the same room (not at the same time) with the use of both a general light source and decorative lighting such as lamps. Dimmer switches are also a good way of achieving this.
The harmony of the lighting is very important, chances are you may need lighting from each category; make sure to buy lights that compliment each other. More often than not lighting manufacturers will sell a style of lighting with pieces from each category; this is an easy way to ensure your lighting matches.
Harmony is further enhanced by lighting fixtures with designs that match the room’s mood and function and are varied enough in size, texture and intensity to add interest.
There is no right or wrong way to light your home, but ensure you plan it carefully to get the best results!
I’ve put together a selection of lighting schemes from some of my favourite lighting manufacturers to give you a feel for the sort of styles that work well together. For details on any of these designs contact Murray Hurst Interiors: www.murrayhurstinteriors.com