Lighting tips for interior design

Winter is a great time for updating your lighting choices, ready for the dark nights ahead. On trend for this season are metallic lamps, statement pendants and sculptural shapes in wood, glass and ceramic that ooze sophistication and style. But remember – selecting the right type of light for the task at hand is key.

As autumn sets in and heralds the onset of winter, a lighting update can help prepare for the dark nights ahead. This season’s trend calls for a return to the mid-century by way of materials, including metallic finishes (especially brass) and glass, and clean lines and angular forms of 1920’s modernism. Both low-hanging pendants and handsome geometric stand-alones ooze sophistication and style, but always consider the task at hand before selecting your design.

Styling with lights: the basics

Interior designers advise using a minimum of three points of lighting in a room, with two of these acting as ambient light, and if necessary, the third acting as a functional light. Lighting can take the form of pendant lamp, table and floor lamps, or a cluster of candles.

Tip: If you’re using a pendant lamp as one light source, use a dimmer or select a low wattage filament bulb to avoid light-flooding your space.

Light and colour

Consider your room’s colour scheme before selecting your bulbs or the colour of your lampshades. Light blue, mint green, and white rooms work better with brighter, whiter light – and are forgiving to the white light of energy saving bulbs. Brown, olive green, and earthy-coloured rooms require a warmer, yellow light.

Tip: Candles will, of course, work well in all spaces, but pick shades the compliment your interior, as the eye is drawn towards flickering light.

Where to place your lights

When arranging your light pieces, remember to evenly disperse them throughout the room and to place them at different levels. For an impactful arrangement, try to direct the ambient light onto corners of the room, or use it to highlight statement features: focusing on wall art or photos, for instance, works well. For functional lights (like in the kitchen and bathroom), arrange them to illuminate your space while casting as few shadows as possible.

Tip: A spotlight reflected against a white wall will diffuse the light and illuminate more effectively than pointing it towards the room.

How to maximise light in dark rooms

For particularly dark rooms, use a mirror (or two) to reflect ambient light. Placing a mirror directly behind a table or floor lamp will also help draw attention to geometric or angular designs, and help showcase their form.

Tip: In dark rooms, using strong overhead lighting can draw attention to the room’s light deprivation. Instead, use multiple sources of soft ambient light.

Make the most of your lighting solutions

Pendant lamps and floor and table designs are much more valuable than the light that they cast. They are style pieces in themselves, and can be a great opportunity to make a design statement in your home. If your room requires a pep, splash of colour, or a hint of glamour, a light might be the perfect way to inject the thing you’re missing.

Tip: Attractive candle holders can transform even the simplest candle into a statement piece, so invest in something you really love.

Lighting the living room

Lounging around means you want lights that create a subdued, cosy ambience. Table lamps direct the light downwards and create soft pools of light, so are ideal for living rooms and bedrooms where we spend more time relaxing. Play with fabric shades in rich colours and patterns and team with elegant metal lamp bases for a sophisticated bohemian look. Mix and match several different styles at varying heights to accent individual corners of a room – remember the lower the wattage of the bulb the dimmer the light will be – for a dark, sultry mood opt for a wattage lower than recommended (but never go higher than that stated by on the care instructions for safety reasons).


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Lighting the workspace

Task lighters also reflect the light downwards, but in a much more specific area – so even if you have a work space that is a part of the living room, it’s important to factor one in. Spotlights, desk lamps and floor lamps are designed to be for reading, studying or working where a brighter light is required for a small area. The current trend for mid-century modern inspired interiors means there are some great utilitarian styles available that combine functionality with state of the art design. Don’t forget the kitchen too, where cooking means you need a reasonable amount of illumination. Spotlights and pendant lights can work together, but it’s a practical working space you’re after. Factor this into decisions about height and place pendants over kitchen tables or in multiples for sufficient lighting to work with.


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Lighting the dining room

Position pendant lighting styles over the table to act as down lighters. This will ensure you don’t cast your own shadow over your plate. Add visual impact by hanging shades of different designs at different heights along the length of the table. Retro glass domes, graphic architectural globes and metallic shades will provide a rich warm glow as well as some formal contemporary glamour. And don’t forget the beauty of candles for adding tiny pools of light on the table – invest in stylish candlesticks or tea light holders and delight in the magic of flickering candlelight on dark winter evenings.


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