How To Use Lights In Your Design


How To Use Lights In Your Design?

Looking to create a flattering glow and you don't know what to do!  This speedy lesson in some room-by-room tips will illuminate the way.

What Kind of Lighting Does Each Room Need?

There are two rules of thumb: You should have a mix of light sources at different levels to create a flattering ambience, and you need appropriate task lighting for whatever you do in that space (reading, sautéing, getting dressed). Here are tips for six key spots.

Living Room: Light three of the four corners, focusing one of those lights on an object (art, a plant, a striking chair). Use a combination of table lamps and floor lamps, some with a downward glow and some that shine upward. Allow for reading in as many seats as possible with down-glowing lamps on three-way switches. If you have an overhead fixture, put it on a dimmer.

If you're decorating the room from scratch, it's a good idea to plan where your lighting points and sockets should be installed at an early stage. This will mean that the lighting will suit your major pieces of furniture and not the other way around, and you won't have to trail unsightly cables across the room. Also, consider arranging for your table and floor lamps to be wired on their own separate circuit with dimmer switches, so you'll be able to control them all from one neat place on the wall.

There is no greater crime than lighting your living room with a single pendant alone, so aim to use a variety of sources to create pools or different levels of light around the room. That means a central pendant for general ambient light; uplighters, table or tall floor lamps to light up dark corners; task lighting (such as table or desk lamp) for reading by; and perhaps a selection of wall lights to show off your favourite pictures.

Providing light for practical purposes is always a priority, but you can use simple tricks to change a room's proportions, too. Fitting uplighters to the wall to bounce light onto the white ceiling will make the room seem larger and taller. Creating panels or shafts of light with downlighters at the far end of a short room will draw your eye towards it and make it seem longer, just as lighting all four corners of a small room will make it seem bigger.

Dining Room: To draw people in, make the table the brightest spot in the room. Use a chandelier or a pendant above the table, limiting the total wattage to 100. Elsewhere in the room, indirect lighting is best—it’s relaxing and flattering. Give the space a subtle glow with a pair of small table lamps on a sideboard or matching sconces on the wall above. Battery-powered votives inside a glass-front china cabinet can be a nice touch.

If you are hanging pendant shades over the table, bear in mind that they need to be low enough to create soft pools of light that will conjure up an intimate atmosphere. However, the lights must be set high enough off the table so that people sitting at the table can actually see each other. Dimmer switches are a must here, so you can easily adjust the lighting to suit the mood.

Kitchen: Focus on overhead lighting (on a dimmer that you can crank up when cooking), and add lower sources to illuminate work surfaces. Use pendants, under-cabinet lights, or a sturdy table lamp (kept away from the sink).

Under-wall unit lighting or, failing that, downlighters that sit directly above the centre of worksurfaces, particularly in areas where you prepare food, are vital because they will give you an uninterrupted source of light (unlike a central ceiling light directed at a worktop, which you will block with your own body).

A central spotlight is a good source of ambient light. Ideally, choose one that has three, four or even five directable lights, which can be either on a track that extends the length of a longer kitchen or on a single unit in a smaller room.

Bedroom: Aim for a cozy, insular atmosphere: Place reading lamps or sconces by the bed—but not pointed directly at it. If you have recessed or track fixtures, angle them away from the bed, toward the dressing area. On a low table, include a small, intimate lamp with a tinted low-wattage bulb to mimic candlelight.

Choosing bedside lights? Don't just stick to table lamps - small pendant shades either side of the bed will free up bedside table space and, because they can be hung so low, create an intimate, cosy atmosphere, too. Another option is to fix lights to the wall, but remember that if you plan to read by them, they need to be just above the height of your head when you're lying down.

Bathroom : The best choice for applying makeup is sidelights, such as a pair of sconces flanking the mirror. An overhead light helps fill in any shadows on your face and also fully illuminates the room (important when cleaning). In a large space, you might also want a light directly over the shower.

Consider how much light your bathroom gets.  Does it have a large window for natural light? and  What lighting options already exist? or Do they cast shadows and is there enough task lighting to shave or apply make-up without guessing at the results?  If you currently have one light fitting with a 100 watt bulb for instance, you may be better off with a number of lower wattage downlights to create a similar look over a wider space.  And  consider a dimmer too, which will allow you to create an invigorating start to the morning and a softer effect after dark.

hallway: Your hall is not just that busy space where everyone fights to get to shoes and coats; it's also the room that welcomes visitors to your home. While hall lighting needs to be practical, that doesn't mean it can't be decorative, so think lantern, hanging bowl, posh pendant or chandelier.


Don't hang a pendant if your ceiling is low - it will only make it appear even lower. Instead, stick to halogen spots, sunk flush with the ceiling. These bulbs mimic daylight and, when recessed, they don't attract attention to themselves. However, if yours is a period house - anything pre-1930s - or a large new-build, chances are the ceiling will be high enough to take something really show stopping.