Choosing the right lighting for your house

Take a minute to visualise your home with a bare lightbulb in every room. Now think again, this time replacing each one with an amazing pendant light. Then add floor and task lamps at varying heights and start to imagine what a difference lighting can make to your home. Now look at your home again, and this time see what opportunities you’re missing to create mood, drama and visual splendour.

Living room lighting

Lighting is one of the most important elements to create ambience in a room. As with most decorative elements in your home, though, it’s about striking the right balance. You need enough light sources – and most people don’t – to create interest. Besides your ceiling pendant consider a couple of floor lamps, a table lamp, string lights along a shelf or skirting, as well as candles and recessed lights. It’s entirely possible to have this many lights – in fact, it’s advisable. But the key to getting this look right is the wattage, and also the level at which you display these lights.

“The most important factor to remember is that you’re trying to create an ambience,” says lighting designer Celina Gomez, who is also the co-founder and director of HomeLight. “Over-lit rooms feel cold and uninviting, so choose ‘warm white’ colours of 2700K-3000K colour temperature,” she says.

Your dining room needs to brighten up

Dining rooms are increasingly used for more than one task. Many people use this area as an office, too. If this is the case, you want to ensure that your lighting meets these dual needs. You might want to consider a floor lamp that can provide additional lighting, or a table lamp if you have a console nearby. Regardless of whether you’re using the table for work or mealtimes, Celina says it’s important to ensure you have adequate lighting across the entire length of the table – sometimes this will mean you need more than one pendant light. It’s important to remember, though, for each additional light you add, you’re also increasing the overall illumination of the room. “You may be able to lower the wattage of each lamp within the fitting, but the overall wattage of the light fitting will have increased,” Celina says. “Be careful not to over-light the whole room.”

Dimming is most important at the dining table as it is ideal to adjust the light depending on the time of day, and after a meal you may wish to dim the lights slightly as the night continues.

Working lights in your kitchen

While kitchens look more and more like living spaces these days, especially when they are sitting alongside them, it’s important to remember that they are still functional – that means you need to light your benchtops and cooking areas before getting too carried away with the de rigueur pendants above the island bench. “It is a good idea to avoid glare from the kitchen,” Celina says. “Lights should be selected that direct light onto the areas that you really need.” And while too much under-cupboard lighting can look gimmicky, this type of indirect lighting is handy when the kitchen is not in use but you don’t want to leave it in complete darkness, such as when it’s near a living area or dining space that’s in use.

Also, to avoid shadowing from lights in the kitchen, make sure the light is not behind you and the task at hand. “Positioning of the lighting is important and it is always best to have multiple lights,” Celina says. “For example, lights either side of the centre of the cooktop will help create an even illumination across the whole area rather than just one centred light fitting.” Fluorescent or LED bulbs are good options as kitchen lighting tends to be used for a greater number of hours so energy efficiency is important.

 

What about the bedroom?

This is another room where ambience is important. Along with a ceiling pendant, bedside lamps are usually required. “Studies have shown that warm lamp colours are best as they increase our serotonin and induce sleep,” Celina says. “If you are an avid reader you may wish to also find a small wall spotlight to highlight your page.”

Waterproof bathroom lights

The main area that needs illumination in the bathroom is near the mirror. You will need two light sources to ensure even lighting and to minimise shadowing. “It is also important when choosing lights that they are either IP rated – to suit a wet/steamy environment – or that the light fittings are positioned away from splashes of water or excess steam,” Celina says.

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