CREATIVE LIGHTING IDEAS FOR YOUR HOME – Amazingly, the style of lighting found in most homes in among the worst ways to light a room, offering a dull, flat and oppressive mood. The single pendant bulb is something of a hangover from the days of efficiency over style and comes from a time when the impact of good quality lighting on mood was poorly understood, if even considered at all. With a massive range of options available nowadays, as well as a much clearer understanding of the impact of various lighting types, it’s time to ditch your Victorian pendant light and examine the alternatives.
The Wow Factor
About as close to impressive as many homes get in terms of lighting is a chandelier. While these can offer a marginal improvement in terms of layering, the diffusion of light often leaves impressive areas of a room without the attention they deserve. Most homes will have some kind of centerpiece or unique element, such as a large plant or bookcase, although you can pick pretty much any element of a room to add up lighting to increase the impact of the item of furniture.
What up lighting does – and why it’s so popular in high-end architecture – is add more angles to whatever you’re lighting. Where these angles spread out from the item being lit, they make it look far more imposing. It also has the benefit of adding colours and shapes on walls and ceilings, which gives an extra dimension to your wall and ceiling real estate.
One thing that’s often missed in home lighting is layers. This involves creating numerous light hubs and cones, and deciding which layers are too much. If you take a simple two-layer set up as an example, namely two standing lamps at opposing corners of the room, you’ll be able to see where the shadows are cast and what feels good to you. Layered lighting is about softening the dark areas, and adding grades of shadow rather than just a slow gradient radiating from a central point.
The key thing to remember here is to avoid large blocks of single shadows creating ominous spaces within your room. One great trick here is to draw a plan of your room and add light in the light sources, shading areas that are completely in shadow, lit by one source, or lit by both sources. This will help you get an idea of the look of your room, without having to shift around too much furniture.
There are many supposed substitutes for natural lighting, but sadly nothing comes close. Maximising lighting is all about removing obstacles and lifting light sources so nothing gets in the way of light. Think about lighter curtains or netting and remember that dark items, such as sofas or TVs can both obscure light and provide an overly stark contrast to natural light if placed near a window.
An obvious way of extending the power of any lighting sources you have, be they natural or artificial, is mirrors and reflective surfaces. The great thing about mirrors and reflective (and refractive) surfaces is that they add light without taking up any floor space. However, too many mirrors can often make change the mood of a room and remove warmth.
Changing the Mood
With a clever lighting set up you can change the rooms mood in an instant. In essence, a cozier mood can be achieved with light that is placed closer to the floor. This allows the light to diffuse in a much more gentle manner from the floor – and is particularly good with warm coloured wood or carpet flooring – but still provide sufficient light. Smaller groups of lights, such as series lighting strips, can provide an excellent source of very fine layering and warmth. Compare a single bulb to a bunch of Christmas lights, for example. Which offers the cozier feel?
For a brighter, more active mood, for example in the breakfast area, where invigoration is key, the opposite is true. However, direct light is never a pleasant thing, so ensure you have adequate, light coloured shades, preferably with a blue hue for maximum invigoration. It’s popular nowadays to add large dome-shaped shades to long pendant lighting in a breakfast room, which adds height to rooms and gives a more airy feel.
However you approach your homes lighting changes, make sure that you’re happy with them. Not everyone likes high-looking ceilings or cozy front rooms. Its also useful to think about permanent changes, such as rewiring, in a year-round sense, as lighting requirements during summer are significantly different to those in winter.