10 Brilliant ideas for lighting your home

Light is undoubtedly the most flexible (and affordable) way to change the mood and atmosphere in a room …Using lighting, you can exaggerate space or diminish faults at the flick of a switch or the turn of a dimmer.

Imaginative lighting can imbue the simplest space with a special magic. On the other hand, unconsidered lighting can make an otherwise impeccable room look dreary.

Here are 10 illumination dos and don’ts for your home.

1. DO think of lighting as a creative medium

There have been enormous advances in domestic lighting over the last couple of decades, but many people still think of lighting in connection with actual fixtures, rather than as a medium that can be manipulated like paint. When you buy lights and lamps, it is just as important to consider their illuminating effect as it is to judge their shapes and looks.

2. DON’T be satisfied with just an overhead light

Every room in your home should contain a combination of ambient light (to provide general illumination across the space as a whole), task light (to read or work by), and accent light (to highlight plants, art, architectural features or anything to which you want to draw attention). Don’t be afraid to mix things up with table lamps, floor lamps, sconces and overhead fixtures. While it’s not necessary to have them all in every room, there should be at least two.


3. DO consider atmosphere

Filters and gels are available in all sorts of colours from lighting shops and can be fitted over the tops of bulbs to completely change the mood and feeling of a room. Pink bulbs, for instance, will immediately warm up any lamp and make its light a good deal more flattering, just as blue and green bulbs will make rooms look cooler – a boon in hot weather.


4. DON’T be bound by one level of brightness

Our eyes see by means of contrast, and nothing makes a room seem as flat and boring as the bland light produced by a lone central ceiling fitting. Try not to let general light be all one level of brightness. If possible, always install dimmer switches for lighting fixtures, including uplights. These will allow you to control their intensity at the touch of a finger.

5. DO take care when lighting art

Tungsten or incandescent light fixtures should not be positioned too near to works of art (especially those on paper) as they can cause heat damage. Remember that all light can cause colours to fade, particularly watercolours, which should be exposed only to the lowest possible light levels. Whatever the bulb type you choose (fluorescent light is generally preferable), an ultra-violet (UV) filter should always be used to minimise harmful rays.


6. DON’T overdo it

If, for example, there are architectural features that you especially want to light up, it is wise to bear in mind that too much light directed at a certain point can flatten rather than define. It is therefore preferable to light them obliquely with tiny halogen spots, anchored as inconspicuously as possible, rather than to subject them to a full-frontal assault. To emphasise a texture, for instance the unevenness of a wall in an old house, uplights placed on the floor are usually the best solution.


7. DO pay attention to transition lighting

Hallways and staircases need ample lighting as they are the passageways of the home. However, try to make the transition between rooms as even as possible – uneven lighting provides a harsh transition. As these are generally narrow areas, halls should be lit with simple lights. Anything large or overly ornate can clutter or appear to reduce the size of these areas. However, for the sake of both safety and appearance, do not under-light passageways, especially staircases.

8. DON’T ignore the shade

So you've chosen a beautiful new table lamp, but how much thought have you given to the shade? The right lampshade can transform a humdrum base into something exquisite. As a rule of thumb, choose a shade that is two-thirds the height of the base – this proportion assures that the lamp won’t look top- or bottom-heavy. Also, it is generally best to choose a shade that reflects the shape of the base. So a round lamp base will look best with a round shade, while a square or angular base normally works better with a square shade.


9. DO hang pendants properly

When thinking of pendant lighting what probably comes to mind first are fixtures hung in a kitchen. These are a great solution for providing adequate task lighting while also enhancing or reinforcing the kitchen design. Typically, pendants should be placed 70cm to 85cm above the countertop or island, or 180cm above the floor – they should be low enough to provide good illumination for working but not so low that you are staring directly into them.


10. DON’T forget shadows

Place a light in the wrong spot and you could create more of a problem than a solution. For instance, overhead lighting in a bathroom can cast shadows on your face. Sconces placed either side of the mirror may be preferable to a single light above, but, if you must go with an overhead light, choose a longer, horizontal fixture (instead of one with a single bulb). Shadows can plague your kitchen workspace, too. If kitchen lights are positioned above the edge of the counter, when you stand there to work, you will cast a shadow exactly where you need the light. Under-cabinet lighting will easily and effectively solve this particular problem.

For countless interior and exterior lighting ideas, not to mention the chance to see the very latest in lighting products and design, don’t miss Decorex Joburg 2016, on from 5 to 9 August at the Gallagher Convention Centre.

For more information, visit: www.decorex.co.za


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