When designing or furnishing a home, lighting can become something of an afterthought. It’s commonly assumed that windows provide sufficient daytime illumination, with a single ceiling pendant classed as enough for night-time usage. However, the importance of effective lighting really can’t be overstated, since its benefits extend far beyond reducing the risk of accidents and improving our sense of security. Appropriate illumination enables a room to be useful at any time of day or night, from brightening a reading nook to flooding kitchen worktops with light while preparing food.
Mood lighting is at the forefront of modern design, often in tandem with dimmer switches or automatic adjustment depending on ambient conditions. More sophisticated systems use fibre-optics or clusters of LED bulbs to adjust their output colours for added visual drama, which is particularly effective in bathrooms where lighting should be subtle rather than harsh.
Different rooms will have unique lighting requirements, depending on a range of factors from the prevalence of natural light to the colour schemes and furnishings. A bay windowed Victorian lounge will suit a tasteful chandelier and a few wall-mounted picture lamps, whereas a modern flat’s reception hallway is best suited by a bank of recessed halogen spotlights. Today’s low-energy LED bulbs provide a surprising degree of contrast between seemingly similar tones – cool white, warm white, etc – so choose with care.
If recessed halogen spots are ubiquitous in modern homes, some lighting solutions have become universally unpopular. Strip lights and oversized standard lamps now look as dated as a carpeted bathroom with an avocado suite. Contemporary statements should be made with chrome housings, skirting-level LEDs and touch-sensitive table lamps. Hidden illumination is very ‘in’ (such as recessed strips under kitchen worktops), and it’s worth considering additional lighting in dark corners or anywhere that never sees the sun.
Full spectrum lighting is a strong option, especially for people who spend large amounts of time in a home office or study. Not only do these powerful white bulbs provide a level of brightness far superior to conventional alternatives, they also alleviate the dreaded Seasonal Affective Disorder that’s attributed to low serotonin levels throughout autumn and winter. Illumination should ideally be glare-free, powerful and evenly dispersed, and full spectrum lamps comfortably meet all these criteria.
As a general rule, the art of lighting is to make it subtle but effective. Pools of brightness can become as much of a feature as paintings and furnishings, adding a touch of class to any home. Well-judged lighting also generates a warm and welcoming ambience, which is especially important when selling a property and seeking to maximise its appeal to prospective purchasers.