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A successful, innovative lighting design scheme can bring your house to life, make it appear bigger, fresher and very chic.

Lighting is a versatile and important design tool often overlooked, yet it is an essential part of interior design and can be used in many ways to enhance your home. It is not an aspect that can be left as an afterthought, something you get to eventually when you come to decorating. I regularly see home builders and renovators make rushed and therefore poor decisions because the electrician is due on site the next day. Inevitably, they end up with regimented rows of recessed ceiling spots and pendants in the centre of every room with little or no thought to accenting, highlighting or controlling of the lighting ambience.

A successful lighting plan certainly doesn’t come easy. Unfortunately, instead of planning lighting to create pools of focus around furniture or highlight architectural features, it’s not until you’re about to decorate that it becomes obvious the lights are not in the right place. The time to start planning the lighting scheme for your home is right at the very beginning of the project; lighting is as important as plumbing.

Having renovated several homes over the years myself, I have learned the hard way to plan ahead. The paint was barely dry before I brought out my favourite lamp and table to put in place in my hall – only to discover I had no power point for the lamp or indeed to vacuum the stairs! Worse, having installed a beautiful kitchen with a fabulous feature pendant over the central island, on a controllable dimmer for ultimate party ambience; it proved entirely useless when trying to prepare a meal because I couldn’t see the chopping board!

First things first
Begin by thinking of how you plan to use the room, whether it’s a study, lounge for evening use only or a dark hallway that needs to be brought to life with lighting. Read and research as much as you can and think about how much you’d like it to play a role in your home.

Remember, good lighting can:

  • Enhance space
  • Decorate surfaces
  • Create contrast
  • Set the mood
  • Add some drama and fun
  • Be practical

For each room start by deciding on the layout of the furniture. Sometimes there’s more than one arrangement; in which case, the key is to design lighting for several configurations. This may actually only mean a few more sockets for lamps or supplies for wall lights, but it is better and less expensive in the long run to make provision at this stage. ‘Better looking at it than looking for it’ rings very true for extra power points and lighting. However, it should never become too complex.

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General Tips on Lighting

    • Variety is as important as choosing the texture and colour for a room
    • Always allow for changes in mood and light 3 The more sockets and widely distributed in a room, the better
    • Control is crucial – always consider the use of dimmers. Check that your intended lights are designed for dimming (fluorescents and LEDs may not).
    • Use three or four circuits in a room on dimmer controls
    • If your design allows, put all lamp sockets on a 5amp lighting circuit to be controlled by the door
    • Think of using lamps and plan some floor sockets. However use floor sockets sparingly; if located in the wrong place they can become a trip hazard! 3 Use uplighting to define textures and highlight features
    • Before embarking on your design check out the work of lighting professionals such as John Cullen and Kelly Hoppen, or visit local designers to view their completed projects
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