Lighting is often an afterthought when decorating your own home. We may focus on the sofa, armchair and rug, even artwork as the centrepiece of a space; but however amazing these pieces are, they just don’t look their best without good lighting.
A lighting scheme should be thoughtful and considerate, and take into account the function of a space as well as the other pieces in it. We should consider lighting over the dining table (for gathering) and island bench (task lighting), next to an armchair (reading), in an entry area (where are the keys!?!) and, of course, beside the bed (for relaxing). This may sound overwhelming, but it’s easier than you think. And you definitely don’t need to break the bank in order to get a good atmosphere.
There are two big tips when beginning your research into the great affordable options out there: shed all your assumptions about a brand; and be prepared to scroll. Sometimes fancy brands have surprisingly affordable options, and sometimes ‘daggy’ mass producers whip out some really great designs. Cast your net wide, dig deep into their offering and don’t discount any brand from your search!
Once you find the ideal fitting, here are my tips for achieving the ultimate ambience.
There is such a trend for big, low-hanging pendant lights over a dining table at the moment – so the biggest mistake is fixing it too high. When everyone is seated around the table, the light should hang just above eye level.
If you’re looking for a pendant light over a bench-top, then you want to the light to be directed down to that surface to illuminate whatever you are doing. Look for a shade that pushes the light downwards and covers the globe to avoid glare.
If your budget allows, even consider hanging them in a cluster for extra dramatic effect.
It’s transformative to a space when the lighting is layered up. The best combination is a floor lamp next to a central piece of furniture, like a sofa or an armchair, alongside a pendant light over the dining table. Scattering lots of lamps around a room creates pockets of soft glow and cosy ambience, but different fixtures emit a different affect.
Wall sconce: We usually don’t need a wall sconce for task lighting, it’s purely for the vibe, so look for a wall sconce that covers the globe itself. It could be a fabric shade, ceramic, wooden, rattan or frosted glass.
When looking for a floor lamp, consider if it’s to give the room a welcoming atmosphere, or if it’s for reading. This will help you decide if you need a directional light or an overall glow.
If you’re looking for a table lamp, the options are pretty endless, so consider how this can add personality to the room. Can it be sculptural, almost like a functional art piece, or is it purely for task lighting, i.e. reading in bed? How does it look when switched off and on?
The most important element in establishing the character of your lighting scheme is choosing the right globe. Even high-end light fittings can be let down by using cool colour temperature bulbs, so make sure you opt for a warm colour temperature wherever possible. (Almost all globes will be labelled as either cool or warm.)