If you’re building a home from scratch, you might be able to plan a lighting system that will meet the needs of everyone in the house. Older homes however, may need to be retrofitted with new lighting to suit modern lifestyles. The need may be different for each room, or even for separate spaces within a room so it’s helpful to understand the basics.
A room can appear very different throughout the span of a day—sunrise and sunset tones are golden and glowing, whereas midday light is cooler and brighter, affecting how paint colour on the walls and the tone of floor coverings are perceived. Whilst natural light is always a welcome addition to any space, the addition of artificial lighting can assist in creating a more consistent and aesthetically pleasing effect, no matter the time of day.
Lighting can be categorised into a variety of different types;
Ambient or general lighting is that which provides uniform coverage of light to a room. This can be natural light filtering from windows or skylights, or supplemented with fixed lighting that is built into the home—recessed lighting, overhead lights, lights that don’t necessarily contribute to the room’s aesthetic. The purpose of this kind of light is to provide, functional, practical illumination at all times of the day or night as needed.
Areas that require good lighting may benefit from task lighting that directs light onto a specific area. Task lighting is useful in the bathroom around the vanity, in the office on the desk, next to a bed for reading and in the kitchen for meal prep. Task lights may take the form of spot or track-lighting, table lamps, or even floor lamps.
Table lamps, floor lamps, pendants and sconces can all contribute personality and interest in a room. Decorative lamps can be easily updated, providing economical, simple solutions to lighting a space, offering the flexibility and versatility that fixed lighting can’t.
Architectural elements or special pieces in the home can be illuminated under lighting that directs the eye to them. Wall galleries, heritage features or sculptures can be the focal point through the use of considered lighting techniques.
How to choose lighting
All light is measured by its strength—in lumens, and colour—in kelvins. Busy workspaces like kitchens will require higher lumen lighting—5,000-10,000 throughout the room, while 800-2,000 lumens will work better in a bedroom. Table lamps can provide more intimate lighting at around 500 lumens, it really depends on the mood and task you're trying to achieve.
Warm lighting in orange and yellow tones around 2700K to 3000K on the colour temperature scale creates a softer environment that promotes relaxation. Cold light in varying tones of blue, keeps us alert and is better suited for areas where tasks require focus.
Home lighting ideas
A good rule of thumb is to layer several different light sources within each room. This will add interest and texture to the space ensuring it is aesthetically appealing as well as functional. This may be a combination of ambient light from windows or skylights and fixed lighting such as downlights or ceiling lights, matched with task lighting such as a floor lamp for reading. A selection of decorative lights will contribute character and add to the room’s style—a pendant can define a space within open-plan or act as a point of interest, drawing the eye directly to it.
Rather than thinking of it as an afterthought, lighting can be an easy and effective way of defining a style that is both purposeful and beautiful. If you have any queries or need a little assistance in choosing lighting for your home, we're always happy to help.