Read Bespoke Lights helpful hints and tips and avoid these pitfalls.
- Not Having a Lighting Plan
- Don’t Ignore Natural Light
- Don’t Rely on One Single Light Fitting
- Add Layers of Ambient, Task and Accent Lighting
- Choose the Right Size Lights
- Don’t Use Too Many Recessed Downlights
- Ensure You Are In Control of Your Lighting
- Be Energy Efficient
- Choose a Reputable Lighting Supplier
MAKE A LIGHTING PLAN
This is probably the most important piece of advice we can give. Whether you are building from scratch, planning an extension or simply changing your room around a bit, do not leave thinking about the lighting until the last minute. Much better to have switches and lights put in the right place whilst you can still do so. Think about the functions and activities that will take place in the room and ensure you have enough light for these tasks.
Don’t rely on guesswork – draw a simple scale plan of your room on squared paper to include features such as windows, doors, fireplaces, etc, and add in any large pieces of furniture. Also include existing electrical points, switches and sockets. Make sure the lights you already have cater for all the functions and activities that will take place there. Highlight the areas you want to light and the type of lights you would like. Have you overlooked any areas? Do you need to change sockets or re-wire anywhere to accommodate the fittings? Are your switches in the right place?
Aim for a flexible lighting scheme that creates a pleasant environment to be in. Choose light fittings that are both good looking and functional and do not be tempted to impulse buy that beautiful, large chandelier until you are certain it will work.
To find out more check out our blog ‘How Much Light is Needed in a Room‘ which will help you to calculate the amount of light your room needs. Simply click on the link below to take you straight there.
DON’T IGNORE NATURAL LIGHT
Take advantage of any natural daylight on offer. Not only is it better for our bodies but it provides brightness and warmth at zero cost! If you have the option, ensure you have enough windows and consider roof lights in the ceiling if the room is particularly dark. Obviously, you will need to supplement any natural light with artificial lighting at certain times but, where possible, make use of what is freely available.
The two room settings shown here could not be more different. Shown above is a typical Victorian sitting room with two large windows which are partly obscured by heavy drapes and nets. Although some natural light enters the room it is absorbed by the dark furniture and richly decorated wallpaper and carpet. In complete contrast the room on the right maximises all the available natural light with the two table lamps providing nice accent lighting by framing the window.
DON’T JUST HAVE ONE SINGLE LIGHT SOURCE
Installing just one single ceiling light fitting in a room is a common mistake. Whilst overhead lighting is the go-to option for many rooms, it is simply not enough on its own. It results in a poorly lit space with no warmth or character. A variety of light sources offer more flexibility and one of the most important lighting techniques used by interior designers is to create layers of light.
Effective lighting needs multiple layers of light which means having different lights at different heights that complement each other and that take into account the different functions of the room. In order to achieve this there are three basic types of lighting – ambient, task and accent lighting – and your room may need elements of all three.
Both these rooms illustrate how effective creating layers of light can be. The kitchen on the left features three of our striking polished brass Elegance pendants providing lighting over the island unit. In addition to adding a great mid-century look these atmospheric pendants provide elements of both ambient and task lighting. Additional task lighting is provided by the under cabinet lighting and the row of 6 small pendants hanging over the sink whilst the interior cabinet lights give a nice accent light. The first thing you notice about the open plan apartment on the right is how the designer has maximised the use of the natural light on offer to create a lovely light and airy feel. Downlights in the ceiling along with the 5 light hanging pendant over the dining table provide the ambient light whilst the 3 pendants hanging over the kitchen island and the under cabinet lights give task lighting where it is needed. The table lamp adds accent lighting and ensures there are no dark corners.
Ambient Lighting – think of this as the general or background lighting in a room. It is usually provided by one or two central ceiling lights or possibly wall lights and should account for around 75% of a rooms light. Unfortunately, this is often where many people stop. Whilst ambient light is sufficient for basic activities it is not suitable for task-based activities such as reading, cooking, shaving or applying make-up.
Both the rooms illustrated above have decorative central ambient light fittings. The sitting room on the left features our Aegean 8 light chandelier finished in a highly polished nickel plate decorated with cut glass droplets and sconces. The traditional bathroom on the right has been given a luxurious look with our glamorous Crystal Skye chandelier which features triangular crystal prisms held together in a chrome frame. It has been teamed with the matching wall lights for a truly sparkling effect. The Crystal Skye fittings are all IP44 bathroom safe lights and are lit by low energy LED bulbs.
Task Lighting – this does what is says and is task-based lighting that focuses on specific areas. Task lighting is essential in work areas such as kitchens and can be used to illuminate work tops, sinks and cooking surfaces. Under cabinet lights are a great way to provide task lighting for kitchen worktops. As they are neatly tucked away under overhead cabinets they do not take up valuable space but more importantly provide light where it is needed. Pendant lighting over kitchen islands and breakfast bars provide both functional and decorative task lighting. Track lighting with directional spotlights and recessed ceiling downlights are often used to maximise the task lighting in kitchens but these need to be carefully placed to avoid shadows.
Two very different examples of task lighting are illustrated above. The stunning Inglenook pool or snooker table light is from our Broadway American Collection. This magnificent Tiffany light is painstakingly hand crafted from 496 individual pieces of stained glass in the classic American Arts and Crafts style. It can also be used very effectively as a kitchen island pendant. The kitchen shown on the right has ambient lighting provided by downlights in the ceiling and the three Arabesque globe pendants. These pendants, also made in the USA, have an unmistakable Arabic influence and are produced using the latest laser cut technology and hand finished in a soft silver leaf finish. The pendants also provide some task lighting for the kitchen island and additional task lighting is provided by under cabinet and cooker hood lights.
Bathrooms also benefit from task lighting but so many people simply rely on a single central light fitting. Overhead lighting can cast shadows so, if possible, try adding wall lights either side of a mirror to assist with shaving and applying make-up.
The Cabaret bathroom wall lights shown here are sure to add a touch of Hollywood glamour to any bathroom as well as giving very effective task lighting.
Other examples of task lighting include bedside table lamps used for reading, over bed wall reading lights, desk lamps and directional floor lamps.
The traditional desk lamp shown here is British made in solid brass with a natural antique tarnish. It is height adjustable and the green shade, which is white on the inside to reflect the light, can be angled making it the perfect task light for a period study.
Accent Lighting – think of this lighting as adding the finishing touches. This is focused lighting used to highlight particular features in a room or to brighten up any dark corners by supplementing the ambient lighting in the room. Accent lighting can include wall lights, table lamps, standard lamps, picture lighting and interior lights in cabinets or concealed lighting behind cornices or coving.
Picture lights are a great way to add accent lighting. The traditional Blenheim trough picture light, shown above, is based on an original from Blenheim Palace. This quality reproduction is made in solid cast brass and shown here in the polished finish – it is available to order in a choice of other finishes too. The Amalfi wall light shown in our centre image is a stylish, double insulated, wall-washer style fitting that casts warm pools of light onto the wall creating a relaxing accent light. It is made from white ceramic which can simply be left as it is or painted with a good quality emulsion paint to complement your decorations. The final image on the right shows our statuesque Gift gloss white textured table lamp. This is a tall table lamp which is shown here used as a small floor lamp. Table and floor lamps are perfect for adding accent lighting in living spaces.
CHOOSING THE WRONG SIZE LIGHTS
This is a common mistake to make with most people buying lights that are too small for the space. Lighting can be quite an investment and if you don’t get it right you could end up spending more in the long run. Our advice would be to be to go larger if you are in any doubt, particularly as oversized fittings are currently very much on trend! Choosing a light fitting that is too small for the space will not only look wrong and have little or no impact but more importantly will not provide the right level of illumination. Working out what light level and size of fitting you need before you start shopping will be time well spent.
The illustrations above all show that when you get it right it not only looks right but also provides a balanced look that is in keeping with the surroundings. The Carnegie 6 light pendant over the table on the left is a bold choice that illustrates you should not be afraid to have a larger size fitting to create more impact. Getting the lighting right over dining tables can be challenging and in larger spaces it is often a good option to use two or more pendants to achieve a balanced look and get the required amount of light. In the centre image the table is well lit by 3 Cosmo pendants which not only look great but give a balanced look and a better spread of light. These are British made pendants from UK lighting manufacturer Original BTC. They are made from textured bone china and create a soft translucent lighting effect perfect for over dining tables, kitchen islands and breakfast bars. A grand facade needs grand statement lights and in the example on the right this has been achieved by using our large Balmoral wall lanterns. These are a true replica of a Victorian street lamp.
Read more about How to Select the Perfect Ceiling Light by checking out our blog which has lots more useful hints and tips.
Choosing the right size pendant or chandelier for over a dining table also requires a little homework. Check out our blog on How to Light a Dining Room for more details.
EXCESSIVE USE OF RECESSED DOWNLIGHTS
Recessed ceiling lights have been a popular home lighting option for some while and whilst they have their place they are not the complete answer. Many people mistakenly believe that if they fit as many downlights as they can into their ceiling they will create a low profile minimalist look and that’s job done. This, however, can result in an ‘airport runway’ grid pattern of lights devoid of character and warmth. Also bear in mind that you will be cutting holes into your ceiling to accommodate the downlights and once you have done so it can be costly to restore the ceiling to its former glory if, at some point in the future, you would like a change.
The 2 images above illustrate the multiple use of downlights. On the left we have a somewhat soulless airport arrivals hall – not very welcoming but I guess fit for purpose. The conference room on the right at the River Campus of the University of Rochester in New York State fares a little better. However, I would venture to say that neither of these images show a look we would wish to replicate in our homes
The clue is in the name as downlights provide a narrow beam of light in a downward direction which can leave other areas of the room poorly lit. To overcome this cave-like effect, add some additional task and accent lighting to complement the ambient lighting provided by the downlights. Wall lights, floor lamps, table lamps and pendant lights can be used to provide additional lighting and add character.
Our Taro recessed downlights are available in a choice of finishes and there are fixed and angled version with either a square or circular surround. The square angled version in the brushed aluminium finish is used in this room setting to great effect. They have been angled slightly to wash to wall behind which is just perfect for adding light to an otherwise quite dark area.
NEGLECTING LIGHTING CONTROLS
Using dimmer switches puts you firmly in charge of your lighting levels and is one of the best kept secrets of a well-designed lighting plan. Dimmers are perfect for creating a more intimate atmosphere by lowering the light level in living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms. Whilst they may be a little more expensive than simple on/off light switches they are the easiest way to create the perfect ambience for every occasion. There are times when we need bright lighting but equally there are other times when we want the flexibility to tone things down a little. Another useful tip is not to have too many lights controlled by one light switch – separate light switches offer us the option of choosing which lights we turn on.
The images above show the seating area in a pub with the lights controlled by dimmer switches to create different light levels and atmospheres. The lights featured are Praia range from our Monaghan Lighting Collection.
NOT USING ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHTING
Lighting technology has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years and there is now no excuse for not using low energy lighting. LED is definitely the way forward. LED lights are low energy, last longer and will save you money and with a whole host of amazing lights on the market you will be spoilt for choice. With the new generation of LED light bulbs there are now replacement lamps for all the old fashioned high energy bulbs – they may initially cost a little more but you will quickly reap the benefits. Smart LED lights are now coming onto the market – these can be dimmed, change colour and have many other fun and practical features that can be controlled from your smart phone or tablet.
The image above shows some of the amazing decorative light bulbs that have recently been added to our Bespoke Lights website. To take a look at all our low energy and LED bulbs just click on the link below.
CHOOSE A REPUTABLE LIGHTING SUPPLIER
There are lots of lighting suppliers out there and it can be difficult to choose the right one. We would urge you to do a little bit of homework, particularly if you are looking to buy a lot of lights. Check out how long the company has been in business? Can you visit them? Do they offer free delivery? What is their returns policy? What sort of reviews are they getting?
Here at Bespoke Lights we know that it can be difficult buying lights fittings without actually seeing them and ordering on-line can seem very impersonal. To put your mind at rest we are a small family run business with over 30 years’ experience in the lighting industry and we would be delighted to see you if you are able to visit us at our showroom in the Somerset seaside town of Minehead. We offer free delivery to most UK addresses and a no quibble returns policy. Our customers matter to us for without them we would not be in business. If you would like to talk to us simply use our on-line chat facility or give us a call – you will not have to listen to endless music waiting for someone to answer the phone. Our staff are friendly and knowledgeable and we give honest down to earth advice. We offer this service free of charge with no obligation but of course we hope you will feel confident enough to trust Bespoke Lights with all your lighting purchases. Here’s what some of our customers have to say –
‘Absolutely fantastic business to deal with, they put other household names to shame with their attention to detail and friendly approach
‘Pleasure to deal with – really pleased with our light and service was excellent – would highly recommend !’