Light Up, Light Up

Often referred to as jewellery for the home, lighting is a key component of architectural and interior design, and the way we use it can impact how a space works and how we feel when we’re in it, says Georgina Blaskey.

Lighting should never be an afterthought, but often it is. Taking time to consider how you will illuminate a space is crucial to its success. This year, a range of lighting styles are vying for attention on the interiors scene. Trends for 2020 include everyday glamour reminiscent of luxury hotels, but our respect for the environment has concurrently led to natural textures inspired by 70s design to creep back in. Pared-back, clean design is also popular as we consider having less ‘stuff’ in our homes to help clear and focus our minds.

“Inspired by the Roaring Twenties and rise of the iconic Art Deco era, vintage glamour is an unmissable lighting trend for 2020 and beyond,” says Lucy St George, co-founder of Rockett St George. “In times of political confusion, often we look to improve things with a healthy dose of opulence, fun and glamour and Art Deco design is perfect for this. Plus, as we head into a brand-new era of the 20s, a little nostalgia for the glamour of the Jazz Age is only natural!”

Oversized ceiling lights and statement chandeliers are taking centre stage. “As Victorian houses usually have very generous proportions, large-scale lights work best,” say interior designer Emma Green. “Go as large as you dare, they can carry it!”

As cane and rattan furniture and accessories enjoy a revival, the trend has hit the lighting department too. “Focusing on beautiful, natural materials that help create ambience whether the lights are turned on or off, rattan and cane pendant lights bring inviting character and warmth to any space,” explains Jane Rockett, Lucy’s co-founder.

“It’s a great way to bring a hint of the outside in, the natural textures of rattan, wicker and woven cane look incredible in soft, contemporary schemes that combine timeless design with the latest trends,” she says.

Designed in subtle, neutral tones that stand-out against light or dark walls, woven cane materials are the perfect choice for lighting your home in style, all year long. Sarah Roberts, marketing director at John Cullen, is on board: “Using wicker basket shades creates patterns around a room which is very effective.” Reflecting another interiors trend, biophilia, there are many quirky lamp bases, pendants and chandeliers based on big, bold botanicals. These are great for injecting a fun, sculptural element into a room.

Our love affair with the pendant light continues. Sarah notes that pendants incorporating internal LED strips are the latest incarnation; use over a hall or dining table or as a centrepiece in a living room. “Pendants are still popular, but always use an odd number,” advises Sarah. “They are decorative rather than a good source of task lighting so intersperse them with down lights.”

Copper and brass finishes are still on trend – Tom Dixon’s melted copper ceiling pendant has become a design classic – but now we are seeing a range of different textures, such as raffia, wood, silk and chrome. “When used in fabric or wood over a dining table, pendants undoubtedly soften the scheme, which is particularly important in kitchens,” explains Emma. “Globe lights, in the form of pendants, floor lamps and table lamps, continue to be popular as they complement most schemes.”

The range and use of wall lights and sconces are on the rise with some exciting, fresh designs around. Emma Green says: “Wall lights can look good in almost any room. I’ve used them in a dining room to frame the artwork and also to add interest. They add an ever-important layer of lighting.

I usually aim to place wall lights at eye height, or sometimes just above depending on the size of the actual fitting and what they are shining down on to.” Use them to throw light shapes down plain hallway walls when switched on, and to add a decorative element when off.

In response to our exposure to blue light, colour temperature is also becoming a lighting buzzword. Warmer LED lights create cosy spaces as an antidote to our tech-saturated lives. “So often colour temperature is ignored and can result in a lounge looking like an office and not an area for relaxation,” says Emma. “Aim for a temperature of at least 2700K.”


• Get the planning, layouts, ideas for paints, flooring and any bespoke furniture in order before you start. Visualising the whole project will avoid lengthy building delays.

• Stretch yourself on colour, furniture and layouts. Be confident to try new things for a really exciting result.

• Furniture around the perimeter can make a room look smaller. If space is tight, angle inwards or move it a few inches in from the wall, putting a shelf or console behind. Existing pieces, including artwork and accessories, can be re-worked or used in a different way to add character. • Make sure curtains are floor length, giving the impression of a much taller, more splendid room. A curtain pole just above the window shortens the look of the fabric, so put it up as high as possible.

• A central rug surrounded by furniture makes a room look smaller and less inviting. Place at least the front legs on it, bringing it all together in an inviting way.

• Buy good light fittings. A room with good lighting and cheap furniture is more effective than the other way around.
Source: Emma Green Design


1. Plan the room first, advises Emma. The most effective lighting schemes work around the features and furniture in a room and any artwork that might need lighting. Consider how you want to use the space and when, for example, during the day, evening or both. This will dictate the kinds of lighting needed, such as task lighting or decorative, and the layout.

2. Place all lights on dimmers, for different effects at different times of the day and for different uses.

3. Layer light by having it come into a room from different sources, suggests Sarah. For example, in a lounge use downlight for a coffee table or art,
uplight a fireplace surround and add table lamps for decorative tones. It’s your architectural lights that do all the work. Add lighting into shelving – whether you front light or back light your shelves for a more dramatic effect adds extra depth and interest in a room.

4. Light your garden, Sarah explains. With the trend for kitchen extensions with sliding glass doors, you certainly do not want to add curtains or blinds but this can make your kitchen feel like a goldfish bowl at night due to the reflections. To avoid this, a few carefully placed light fittings in your garden to highlight key features will draw your eye outside, creating an increased feeling of space inside.