In The Mood

“There is no other tool that can change the way a room feels than that of lighting,” believes Sally Storey, creative director of John Cullen Lighting. “Atmosphere is created and changed by having different circuits and levels of light that are optimised throughout the day to create the desired effects.” Lighting can reveal or conceal a room, it can make a space look bigger and it can bring out colours and textures in your home. The easiest and quickest way to create an atmosphere and make a room work throughout the day is to use dimmers to transform your space, from bright task lighting for cooking or reading, to soft ambient lighting for relaxing and entertaining. Where you place lights is crucial too. “The most effective lighting schemes work around the features and furniture in a room,” says Emma Green, director of Emma Green Design.  Use a mix of lighting to highlight features such as downlights for a coffee table or artwork, up-light a fireplace surround, and add table lamps for decorative tones. Add lighting into shelving – either front lights or back lights – for a more dramatic effect. What lights you buy is also paramount. It should be a mix of wall lights, downlights and feature lighting on different circuits so each can be controlled individually. It’s also good advice to plan early. “We usually recommend you plan your lighting scheme at the same time as your plumbing,” says Sally. If there is anything that you should be spending money on during a refurb, it’s lighting. “An Ikea sofa can look better with good lighting than a luxury George Smith sofa with bad lighting. You can upgrade your furniture later, but it’s trickier to upgrade your lighting,” says Emma. Another consideration is budget and Claire Burrage, creative director at Clara Bee, has advice on what it’s best to spend money on. “If you are constrained by your budget, then focus on the rooms you live in the most and spend your money there. It will make a world of difference to how you enjoy your home,” she advises. Consider the function of your room, the layout of your furniture and how you want to use the space. This will dictate the lighting needed. “If you have an open-plan living area or a room that needs to serve multiple functions, having a few separate lighting schemes in the room helps to zone the space and form dedicated style spots that allow the room to be used for many different purposes,” says Lucy St George, co-founder of lighting company Rockett St George. Elevate the humble dimmer switch to a higher level and you have Lutron Lighting Solutions, the biggest smart trend in home automation today. Lutron’s light control solutions give users complete control over the ambience in their homes. Their products offer the flexibility to set automated lighting schedules and adjust light intensity, shade levels, temperature and mood in every room, all from a single control panel which can be paired with your mobile or iPad. You can set moods for your living room for just about anything, like ‘cinema’, ‘homework’, ‘entertaining’ and ‘cleaning’. Just make sure that if you go for a smart solution like Lutron, be proactive and ask your engineer to programme the settings to your liking (rather than the basic settings) and don’t overcomplicate matters. If you only need two moods for the kitchen, ‘cooking’ and ‘dining’, then only set two buttons on the control panel, ensuring the desired effect without endless buttons to manage. If you don’t have the budget or appetite for Lutron lighting, consider other relatively inexpensive Smart options such as Philips Hue bulbs. The LED bulbs contain software that connects to an app so you can automate, pre-set and customise your light scenes for any occasion and control them remotely, eliminating the need completely for traditional wall switches. Unlike Lutron, which is an entire lighting system, Philips Hue are bulbs which can be used in any ordinary light fittings and programmed from your phone or smart home system like Google Assistant or amazon’s Alexa. You can even buy the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box which will sync your lighting to your music, home cinema or PC for the ultimate media experience. “It’s a really accessible way of creating a high-tech house but without having to rewire the whole place at great expense,” says Nicole Falla, founder of Nicole Falla Interiors. LED bulbs come in a range of colour temperatures. “Always go for warm light bulbs,” advises Lucy. “White light can make rooms look stark and cold.” 2700 kelvins is best for a home setting. They are also energy efficient, last longer and reduce household bills. “You can put LED bulbs in any kind of light fixture, from vintage to contemporary, so you still have a stylish, well-designed look,” adds Nicole. LED strip lights are also becoming popular as an inexpensive and quick way to light areas in the home.

These simple adhesive strips can be taped to any surface. They come in a range of temperatures and colours, and some are dimmable. When shopping for LED strips, make sure you keep an eye out for their “IP rating”. This is the measurement used to rate how ‘proofed’ an LED strip light is against moisture and dust. LED strips are easily installed without the need for drilling and wiring, and can fit into tight spaces, easily hidden from view. “The key to LED strips is to conceal them so that the source of light is invisible,” says Claire of Clara Bee. Tuck them away in wardrobes, behind bathroom mirrors, in alcove shelving, kitchen coves, and in the garden. They can be used effectively to provide much needed illumination in dark spaces. When it comes to lighting design, increasingly oft forgotten parts of the home are being illuminated in innovative ways. Put recessed up-lights in floors to highlight architectural features in dark hallways, or recessed sensor-activated lights on staircase walls, use wall-mounted floor washers or under-step LED lights to illuminate steps in the garden at night, and wall washing to highlight feature walls. Good lighting is all about purpose and putting lights in the right place, but also embracing shade to create extra depth and drama. Layer this with a mix of architectural and decorative lighting throughout your home and you are well on your way to creating the right mood come day or night.



Architectural lighting and design
Decorative lighting
High street brands
Lighting collections

Light reading “Inspired with light” by Sally Storey, creative director at John Cullen Lighting provides practical insights and inspiration for successful lighting solutions and schemes, from exploring the fundamental principles of lighting design, to working with LEDs and providing advice on lighting in bathrooms, kitchens and unusual spaces such as attics.


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