INTERIOR STYLING + DESIGN
Shine bright: Our tips to use lighting in your home
We love to keep you inspired to experiment with new looks and ways of styling and decorating your home. Let your own personality and sense of style guide you through the process, paying close attention to the colours and patterns you’re attracted too and the mood you want to create in your home. Styling and decorating should be fun – not serious!
Unfortunately in many homes, lighting rarely becomes the priority when decorating and often gets left until the last minute or as a second thought. We’ve touched on this in a previous post here and I bet you haven’t considered the impact that light will have in your space… will it be yellow, or a white cool light… or more moody?
In my own experience, I once bought a pendant light purely for one and only reason: its design. The vintage 70s style red light with fixed LED bulbs seemed absolutely awesome…until I switched it on. When I proudly hung it in the living room and switched the light on, what a surprise to discover such a harsh white spectrum of light… I felt like I was in a hospital! Of course, I removed it promptly and swore to myself I would never make this mistake again.
So, how can lighting improve your home? Why is it so important to include it when conceptualising your decoration? Here are our bright ideas to use lighting in your home!
The main reason why lighting should be a priority when it comes to decorating your home is that it creates the atmosphere in the room. Depending on the lights you choose, the mood will be completely different. Because a bedroom and a living room requires a different atmosphere, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind when you select bulbs and source your lamps.
First of all, find where all your power points are located in the room as this will have impact where floor and table lamps can be placed, according to your furniture layout (or if you are building or renovating, ensure your lighting plan has been designed with this in mind and considered in the beginning stages of the design process!)
Pendant lights illuminate the space from above, predominantly shooting the lighting downward and can be used to help zone areas. You need to ensure the proportions are correct in relation to the space they are being hung in – an oversized pendant in a smaller room, will make the space look tiny and awkward. And a pendant hung too high or too low over a table will have less desirable implications.
Illuminating the walls in a room will make it appear larger and if want to help visually elevate the ceiling, try upward facing beams of light or moveable angled downlights. Of course, to avoid glare, choose appropriate shades and orient the bulbs so your eyes are not directly faced to them. In addition, if the walls are white, they will reflect the light. If they are dark, they will absorb it.
You have two basic colour ways to choose from when choosing your bulbs – Warm or Cool. Yellow and red light give a warm touch to the room whereas white and blue light give a sensation of coldness. Between 2500 and 2700k (kelvin), the light temperature is warm whereas around 4000 and 6500k, it is cold. To grasp light intensity, check out the lumens: the more lumens are, the more intensity is. Check out LED bulbs as they will be less energy consuming and provide more intensity (lumens) with less watts (energy) comparing to incandescents.
You can choose to emphasize a painting, a sculpture or any object in a bookcase with direct lighting, meaning it directs towards the master piece but be careful with lighting intensity as it creates areas of shadow. Indirect lighting creates a cosy atmosphere; direct your lamp towards a plain wall or the ceiling so it cheers up the room.
And lastly, it is important to understand the purpose of each light. General or ambient lighting – like ceiling light – is meant to illuminate the whole room. Task lighting is very functional, it is meant for reading or cooking areas for example. Accent lighting is a decorative way to brighten specific objects, plants, artwork.
“The main reason why lighting should be a priority when it comes to decorating your home is that it gives an atmosphere to the room.”
Lighting in the living room
A well lit room creates a beautiful feeling, and instantly sets the mood. A pendant light or a big floor lamp is a good beginning as it illuminates the whole room. Dimmable overhead lights is also a good option to consider if renovating as you can alter the light according to the time of day and function.
Once you have your main light source, start to layer accompanying light sources around the room based on the requirements and needs of your home.
Highlight an object, an artwork or architectural features in a room using angled lighting. If you like to read on the sofa or your favourite armchair include a floor lamp nearby for task lighting or pop a small lamp on a side table for an ambient glow. For a cute ambient light, hang a set of string lights over a book case or high shelf for a twinkling glow.
When choosing warm vs cool bulbs, consider your interior decor, as well as paint colours. Do you have warm and cosy or yellow based white paints? Choose warm bulbs. Or if you have a more contemporary interior, with cool-white and grey undertones select cool bulbs to brighten and highlight the crispness.
Feature lights and lamps instantly help reflect your interior personality, so choose something that catches your eye and is inline with the style of your home.
Lighting in the dining room
Seeing clearly what you are eating is the aim right? Ceiling lights, through a pendant above the table, or a series of downlights is the most functional solution. It is a direct light that helps illuminate the room in a large spectrum and as previously mentioned a pendant above a dining table helps define the space – great tip for open plan living situations, and small space living.
If you have enough space or if your dining table is in a proper room, you might enjoy having small side lamps around the main table. Wall sconces are a nice solution, as well as floor lamps on a stool or on a sideboard; it will create an interesting space and add some warmth to the room.
“Enjoy exhibiting beautiful lamps you like – vintage finds, industrial metallic products, hand blown glass lights… Light up your personality with lighting!”
Lighting in the kitchen
Alot of functional things need to happen in a kitchen so an overall good general lighting (recessed or pendant lighting) is necessary in this space, especially if the kitchen area also functions as the main dining space -perhaps on a breakfast bar, or incorporated dining area.
For a stylish kitchen, hang a series of pendant lights at about 60cm above the island, and ensure the amount is in relation and proportion to the size and length of your island. If you do so, opt for light products (airy metal pendants or oversized bulbs) so the ceiling won’t be cluttered.
Then, an important area to highlight is the functional areas on the countertop, where you might chop vegetables, read recipes, do the dishes… Direct lighting is the key here with rail lighting or LED strips for under cabinet. A cool LED or halogen light of more than 4000k is appropriate for the kitchen task areas.
Image credit: Beacon Lighting
Lighting in the bedroom
A comfortable sleeping sensation goes with a cosy atmosphere due to warm and soft lighting. General indirect lighting must not be forgotten. You’ll need a mix of ambient and task lighting. Ambient to light the room, and set the mood and task lighting such as direct light on your bedside tables at reading height. Wall lights are also another great idea to hang near your bed frame or bed head, and is a great option if you are limited for space on your bedside tables. Just take notice of the heights in which you hang these, not too high so they are out of proportion with the bedroom setting, and not too low they create an uncomfortable glare into your eyes.
Another direct light that might be useful is something close to your wardrobe. Your dressing can be optimized with LED spots or fluorescent lights.
If you fit out a study in your bedroom, it is essential to put a desk lamp in this task light area. Needless to say, a small night light is a must in a kids room!
Image credit: Beacon Lighting
Lighting in the bathroom
Like the kitchen, the bathroom is one of the most functional rooms in the house so count on direct lighting for task areas. Put spotlights, fluorescent lights or any wall lamps above or around the mirror – it is better to put them on the sides, your dark circles will thank you! If you are not a morning person, you might appreciate a dimmer switch to wake up progressively.
Concerning general lighting, prefer a warm soft ceiling lighting as you don’t want to be blinded by a harsh spectrum!
Lighting in hallways
Lighting here is meant to be safe when you want to find your way, even when you are half asleep in the middle on the night! But it can be also decorative. The most dramatic corridors are conveyed with a nice pendant light or downward wall sconces. Prefer warm lighting for a soft atmosphere. Small spots displayed close to the floor are also a romantic way to emphasize hallways and stairs.
We hope this story will help you not to neglect lighting in your home anymore! If you have questions on this topic, don’t hesitate to comment here or on social media. We will be happy to enlighten you about it.
Eclectic Creative Blog Contributor
French creative based in Wellington, New Zealand, I have worked for ELLE website, in Paris, as a lifestyle editor. I am now thrilled to live in the Pacific Ocean! I love: cats, halloumi, yoga, travels, flowers, and macrame. Regarding interior design, what I like the most is matching colours and textures. I believe style and poetry can be hidden in the simplest things.
Connect with Vanessa Instagram: @vanessawardrobe
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