WADING around in the dark over lighting options? Abi Jackson asks some industry pros for their top tips
IT’S easy to think lighting is all about practicality, but it goes far beyond that – particularly for those looking to make a real statement in their homes. “Gone are the days when lighting was seen as just a means of seeing in the dark. Customers are now far more inclined to see lighting as the starting point for a design scheme and will spend accordingly,” says Mark Holloway, director at specialists Holloways of Ludlow (hollowaysofludlow.com). “Choosing a light has never been so exciting. Almost daily, exciting and innovative lights are launched, showcasing both design talent and new materials and technology.” But where to start?
How will you be using the space?
“If you want a cosy, relaxing environment for a lounge or bedroom, then dimmer switches are key, combined with warm white light bulbs and diffused lighting, such as opal glass globes and lamp shades that soften light, and aren’t as harsh to the eye,” says Clare Griffin, lighting buyer for Habitat (habitat.co.uk). “In contrast, for rooms that are working environments, like the kitchen, office or bathroom, then bright white light bulbs are needed.”
“It’s very important to be crystal clear what function a particular light fitting will perform,” echoes Holloway. “For illuminating an entire space, ‘architectural’ lighting is often best. This includes downlighting, spotlights, track systems and atmospheric lighting.”
Consider your budget – as there may be additional costs
“Anything involving an electrician is going to require more expense, so you need to consider what your electrical options are within the space,” Griffin notes. “Where are the plug sockets located? Could you create a lighting scheme using just plug-in lamps, or using easy-fit shades on existing light fittings?
What decor vibe are you going for?
“In terms of look, lighting can be used to enhance the decor scheme of a room. If you want a glamorous, luxe feel, then add a metallic contemporary chandelier. If you want a mid-century vibe, add a walnut floor lamp with a velvet shade,” suggests Griffin.
How could well-positioned lighting enhance the room’s dimensions?
“Add up-and-down wall lights to a room with a low ceiling to give an illusion of height, or use a floor lamp to light dark corners to create the illusion of more space in the room,” says Griffin. “For space with very high ceilings, add a large dramatic pendant to fill the space and bring the ceiling height down a little.”
Lisa Broad, head of buying at Harveys (harveysfurniture.co.uk), suggests: “Place lamps in front of mirrors to instantly double the amount of light in your room.”
Do you want to make a statement?
If you want to make a statement – go for it. “Go large! You really can go bigger than you think,” says Holloway. “The best lighting designs will work in any context. A stunning contemporary pendant, such as a hand-blown glass pendant from Bocci, will work in almost any interior scheme – traditional or modern.”
How can you still make an impact on a budget?
Don’t have a big budget to play with but want to create some wow factor? Be creative. “A lampshade with a pop of colour is a good way to make a statement – our French velvet and drum silk ranges do this well,” says Griffin. “But the best way to make a statement on a budget, or if you are a renter, is through an easy-fit shade. These are designed to look like pendants, but do not require an electrician, as they attach onto your light fitting like a lampshade. This means different materials, like glass, metal, wood and rattans can be brought into the home without rewiring, and also means more decorative bulbs can be used to make a real statement.”