Take a good look around a room in your house. What is missing? Are your best features on display or lurking in the shadows? It’s time we focused less on changing our paint colours or furniture and switched our attention to our lights.
“Lighting is a hidden and much underestimated tool,” says Sally Storey, design director at John Cullen Lighting. “It can make the simplest white tile in the bathroom look magical, or expensive marble look terrible if you get it wrong.”
Good lighting is about creating “layers” of different lighting effects. Just as an interior designer works with colour and texture in the home, the lighting designer will play with downlights on artwork, uplighters to highlight architectural elements and energy-efficient strip lights to turn shelving into a feature of the
Note: Images are taken from John Cullen Lighting pinterest
A cheap IKEA vase, says Storey, can look glamorous, if backlit properly. “With the right lighting, objects come alive. It can bring out texture in a garden, and create a dramatic effect in the shower, making it appear like a luxurious spa.”
Add some pendants and lamps, spotlight your fireplace, coffee table, painting or uplight a window and it makes the space look as though it has been redecorated without buying a single scatter cushion.
“You can create interest and sculptural effects where you never thought possible – uplight a door, under the stairs, in small recessed spaces. Lighting the space beyond draws the eye and makes the spaces appear larger. If you light your garden or roof terrace it creates another room and adds to the sense of space.”
Having an entire energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) lighting scheme put in place does not come cheaply, at around £100 a bulb for a professionally fitted scheme, but the argument is in the energy and cost saved in the long term. “Instead of using the equivalent of, say, 60 watts in energy, you use 7 watts, with the same amount of brightness.” Storey recently lit an entire garden with just 60 watts – the equivalent of one traditional light bulb.
If money is no object, Storey recommends recessed lights with a handmade frame to silhouette a particular work of art and movement sensors that automatically turn on low-level lights in a bedroom or bathroom. If on a budget, lamps with shades made from silk or parchment diffuse the light and allow it out sideways, “which can often be enough in a bedroom”.
It makes sense to make use of any natural daylight, whether that involves pruning a large climbing rose or swapping bulky curtains for something less intrusive, she adds.