We homeowners go to great lengths when it comes to decorating and furnishing our dwellings. We spend ages choosing just the right shade of paint, and just as long again to ensure that curtains and carpets perfectly complement our color schemes. Oddly though, we seem to pay far less attention when it comes to lighting our rooms to their best advantage, preferring to rely on existing light fittings to do their job without really considering how well-chosen and positioned lighting can accentuate and enhance the mood of a room. This simple guide suggests how you can light each room in your home to best effect, creating a living environment that is practical, inviting and relaxing.
Lighting the Entrance/Hall
There are few sights as comforting as the cozy glow of a hallway seen from outside on a cold, dark winter’s night. The entrance to your home is the first place visitors see and should be lit as invitingly as possible. Soft or diffused lighting such as that provided by wall lights, a lantern or a simple chandelier-effect light fitting and combined with a well-placed mirror can lend your hallway an inviting, homely, yet spacious feel.
Lighting the Living Room
Controllable light levels are key to creating the right mood for a living room; if you’re watching TV you don’t want a floodlit room in which you can’t see the screen for reflected light. However, if you’re reading you want as much available light as is necessary to prevent eye-strain. The answer is to position one or more free-standing floor or table lamps in addition to the living room’s main light fitting. Operated independently of each other you can then set the lighting level and mood of the living room appropriate to your activity. Although not essential, a main light source that is dimmable can add to the ambiance of a living room.
Lighting the Kitchen
Appropriate, practical lighting is essential in a kitchen. Directional light fittings, such as spotlights which can be freely positioned are ideal for illuminating work surfaces and ovens. A number of small halogen lamps recessed into the kitchen ceiling provide a neat, modern and subtle light source and are an excellent choice to install if you’re planning a complete kitchen renovation.
Lighting the Dining Room
Whether part of a combined kitchen-diner or a separate room altogether, the dining room is another area that benefits from more than one light source. Ideally, the dining table should be situated beneath the dining room’s main light fitting, and this should provide enough light that diners can see each other as well as what they are eating. However this light should not be so bright as to create a sterile ‘clinical effect; the dining room is a place of relaxation and enjoyment. Pre- or post-meal, soft, additional lighting in the form of wall lights or portable lamps can be used to create an informal and comfortable mood.
Ideally, bedroom lighting should be tailored to the individual needs of the occupants; independent bedside lamps are a must for a shared bedroom, to minimize the likelihood of one sleeper disturbing the other. Bedroom lighting should not be harsh, and should contribute to an overall ambience of unwinding and relaxation whilst remaining practical for tasks such as dressing, making the bed and so on.
Lighting the Bathroom
Bathroom lighting can be tricky as ideally it serves two purposes; it must be bright enough that we can safely undertake all of our personal grooming regimes such as shaving or applying make-up, but at the same time it should not be stark, cold or unwelcoming. A bathroom mirror with integrated lighting is useful for grooming tasks, whilst recessed spotlights can provide maximum light without dominating the bathroom. For maximum effectiveness these may controlled independently, allowing single features of the bathroom such as a shower cubicle or sink to be illuminated, or adjusted via a dimmer switch mounted outside the bathroom.
O’Brien’s Lighting is a retailer of light fixtures and modern lighting