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Lighting

by Sinead Kelly

Good Interior Design is not just about a stunning colour scheme and a perfect furniture plan. All rooms need a variety of lighting: ambient or atmospheric lighting, task lighting for close-up work and accent lighting to highlight special features. Nothing makes a room feel unwelcoming and bland as bad lighting.

Lighting

"Remember to plan your lighting schem well, and you'll reap the rewards!"

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If you are redecorating a room, or starting anew, give your lighting scheme lots of consideration. Where is the furniture to go? Where would lamps add atmosphere. Can you install floor sockets underneath tables or freestanding furniture, avoiding unsightly trailing cords? How will you be using the room: is it primarily for use during the day or at night? For study or entertaining? All of these considerations will ensure you come up with the best lighting plan to enhance the room's qualities.

Down lighting - love or hate it, its incredibly helpful and effective in some respects, but, like everything, should be used in its proper place. Placing down lights in the ceiling over your bed is absolutely ridiculous if they're going to blind you when on. But placing directional down lights in the ceiling over the bed to shine on the feature wallpaper you may have behind the bed is clever use of the down lights. In the evening, down lights can help to create a soft overall glow that adds ambience. Likewise, during the day rooms that don't get much natural light will benefit from the even, overall light that comes from well positioned down lights. Always remember to have the down lights on a dimmer switch to avoid over bright glares, and to be able to change the atmosphere from bright and buzzy to romantic and cozy.

Lighting Lighting

Lighting in your dining room, or dining area of the kitchen should be subtle, yet bright enough to see what you're eating, yet not so bright as to ruin the dining experience. Bright, dazzling overhead lights are inappropriate and will create a very unrelaxed atmosphere and people's complexions will look drained. Table lights are a good option and another great trick is to set wall sconces into a mirror, creating a dazzling reflective effect, although they would need to be installed by an expert. Many successful restaurants employ lighting designers to specially manage the lighting in order to keep customers returning.

In your living room, an eye catching centrepiece is always a must have. You will also have different seating areas and each chair needs to have its own lighting. A sofa, for instance, might require practical yet elegant swing-arm "library lights" to provide good light for reading, while armchairs can be lit effectively with lamps. If you are using a wallpaper to create a feature wall then consider placing directional down lights that will shine onto the paper and enhance its effect.

The kitchen is an area that is often neglected. I have seen so many houses with just one strip of light in the middle of the ceiling in the middle of the room. As soon as you stand in front of these lights, your body casts a shadow and you cannot see what you are chopping on the work surface! Always layer the lights in this room and use different switches to break up the lighting zones. Add LED strip lighting over your wall-mounted kitchen cabinets. This will uplight the dark space between the ceiling and the cabinets, adding a very romantic atmosphere when other lights are off. Likewise, add lighting under the cabinets to shine onto the work surface. For extra atmosphere, lighting can be added to the kick boards to the units, and under the over hang of your island.

Remember to plan your lighting scheme well, and you'll reap the rewards!