IT DOESN’T TAKE A DESIGN EXPERT TO KNOW THAT BAD LIGHTING CAN INSTANTLY RUIN EVEN THE MOST BEAUTIFULLY STYLED INTERIORS.
Get it right, on the other hand, and you can transform the look of your home with the flip of a switch. Here are our seven best tips for success:
1. DON’T GO OVERBOARD OVERHEAD
When it comes to interior lighting, most of us are guilty of almost exclusively defaulting to overhead lighting in most rooms of the home. But this can have the unfortunate effect of making people feel as though they are on stage or at a convention centre. "Lighting shouldn't wash down on you," says renowned interior designer Barclay Butera. "It's harsh and unflattering."
Instead, try layering the lighting in your home. Use a combination of ambient lighting (such as natural daylight, overhead fixtures and pendants, all of which gently and evenly light up a room), task lighting (like floor or table lamps in a cosy reading nook), accent lighting (such as adjustable, recessed lights that draw attention to the architectural features of a space) and decorative lighting (like chandeliers, candles and other 'feature' lights sources, designed to create drama and interest all by themselves).
Courtesy of HGTV.com
2. INCORPORATE TASK LIGHTING TO DEFINE THE SPACE
You and your loved ones will be forever complaining about eye strain unless you install appropriate task lighting in key areas around the home. To cover the basics, equip your home office with a great desk lamp, ensure kitchen benches are well lit so that no-one loses a finger preparing dinner and, finally, install floor or table lamps in your family's favourite reading spots (such as in bed, in a comfy armchair, or at the end of a sofa).
3. SIZE DOES MATTER
You wouldn't pair a giant, luxurious corner modular sofa with a coffee table the size of a shoe box. As with every other area of design, proportion matters when it comes to choosing lighting fixtures. "This a common mistake I see homeowners make," says Studio Ten 25 designer Abbe Fenimore. "A too-small chandelier over a large dining table or an oversized lamp on a table next to a sofa will make the area look disproportionate."
Another pro tip: everything looks smaller in the context of a showroom than it will in the average family home. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can eyeball it unless you're really confident. Instead, snap a few photos on your phone and bring along your measurements when shopping for lamps, pendants and other lighting fixtures, so that an experienced staff member can help you make the right choice.
4. CREATE ATMOSPHERE AND DRAMA
Decorative lighting is, as the name suggests, primarily there to create an aesthetic rather than achieve a functional objective. For example, chandeliers and candles might not flood a space with light or even be bright enough to read by, but they do wonders for creating atmosphere and intimacy throughout the home.
5. WORK WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT
Okay, this may seem like an obvious one, but it needs to be said: stick with the existing style of the room. Whether you've got a country, French provincial, coastal, industrial, minimalistic or shabby chic look going on, make sure you work with it and not against it. So, think about where in your home you want to place your new lamps, for example, before whipping out your credit card to ensure they don't clash with your existing decor.
6. WATCH THE WATTAGE
"Mood is everything," according to expert designer Barbara Barry for HouseBeautiful. "Who wants to dine in bright light? 60 watts for the dining room. I want it bright when reading, so 75 to 100 watts for the living room. It's nice to have options — if you don't have dimmers, then have some variety from 40 to 100 watts, so you can change the mood for the occasion ... The best lighting is at eye level, not overhead, which creates shadows. And the best light is diffused light from a white or off-white lampshade."
7. LOOK OUT FOR SHADOWS
It's the little things: a floor lamp that is too tall will blind passers-by; too much overhead lighting casts highly unflattering shadows on people, as well as make them feel like they're in a dentist's chair; and poorly positioned lights in workspaces can result in your shadow being cast over whatever you're trying to do. Plan ahead to avoid regret!
BONUS TIP: REMEMBER TO WATCH OUT FOR LIGHT POLLUTION
Unnecessary outdoor lighting, or indoor lighting escaping through windows and glass doors, doesn't just leave you with excessively high energy bills. It creates problems for human health, biodiversity (especially in urban areas), and astronomy. Look after your family and local environment and turn off those lights when you're done!
Courtesy of the MAAS.