Lighting has the power to completely transform a room or space – and the way an individual feels. Just by setting up different forms of
lighting it’s possible to create an intimate atmosphere or a bright, go-getting environment – and all by simply altering the intensity of the
lighting, its placement and color (i.e. warm white or cool white).
Most interior designers refer to layered lighting, which means combining two or several types at once. There are three main types of lighting, these are:
Ambient. This is an indirect form of lighting that creates an ‘atmosphere.’ It’s always soft in character and can bask the room in a warm glow.
It can be either natural (daylight) or created artificially (under-cabinet LED lights, lamps, spotlights etc).
Restaurants looking to create a romantic atmosphere regularly use ambient lighting.
Task. This type of lighting allows ‘tasks’ or work to be done i.e. a pendant light over a dinner table or a desk lamp to allow reading.
It’s lighting which highlights a specific area rather than the room as a whole.
Accent. The type of lighting that’s used to create drama and focus, an example of accent lighting would be a picture light above a
painting or plinth lighting on the baseboard of a kitchen island. Nightclubs tend to rely on accent lighting to add mystery and atmosphere
to a dance floor and surrounding tables. They’ll also bring shadows into play.
Another form of lighting is, of course, daylight – which could be described as a form of ambient lighting and prove pretty effective.
The decorative outdoor screen in this department strains the incoming daylight to cleverly create a pattern inside this apartment bathroom:
Lighting can also be used to create a contrast, uniformity or to change the color of existing objects in a room. And importantly, it can also
be used to highlight furniture, fabrics, and ornaments to the best effect.
Sustainability is a big factor when it comes to lighting interiors (and exteriors) today – particularly in commercial environments which use a
lot of lighting and which can prove expensive in the long run. As a result, LED lighting is becoming the lighting form of choice these days
thanks to the fact it uses 80 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs and 50 percent less than halogen. The reason it’s so energy-
efficient is the fact that unlike the other forms of lighting, the LED bulb doesn’t heat up to the same extent. This means that it’s particularly
useful in contained environments where objects are close to the lighting source such as display cabinets.
Clever interior design tricks using lighting
Uplighters (including table lamps) can make a room appear taller by ‘washing’ a wall with light. As a result, these are particularly useful for
rooms with lower ceilings.
Downlighters such as downward-facing wall lights or picture lights, on the other hand, can give the impression of a wider, and therefore larger, room.
A room should never contain overlapping downlighters and uplighters as this would ruin the effect of the individual lighting forms.
These downlights in the following photograph have been tilted in order to highlight a sculpture and the two
Elaborate chandeliers or low hanging pendant lights can be used to create a focal point in a room and can be particularly useful for dining rooms.
They can also help to appear to lower a tall ceiling.
Recessed lighting such as spotlights in a ceiling rather than hanging lights can give space to a low ceilinged room. Ceiling lights where it’s
possible to alter the direction in which they’re pointed can also help with a low ceilinged room when the lights are pointed at the walls
rather than downwards as this gives the impression of the room being wider than it actually is (see above photograph of a hallway).
It’s always a good idea to plan out lighting requirements right at the start of room design as it’s important to know where electrical outlets
will need to be placed.
Two-way switches are useful, so too are dimmer switches for extra atmosphere.
Externally, lighting can be used to illuminate certain objects such as a special feature in a garden such as a pond, a swimming pool or even a pretty rockery that can be viewed from inside the home at French Windows etc.
These days most forms of LED lighting come in color and which can handily be used to alter the atmosphere in a room – red lighting tends
to add a dynamic air for instance whilst blue is excellent for relaxing.
It’s a good idea to try and use as much natural daylight as possible (especially in darker rooms) and most interior designers will use a mix of both natural and artificial light.
Natural light is preferable as it illuminates colors more naturally and reflects of shiny surfaces, making the room appear larger.
Rooms that are too dark tend to feel cramped. Lamps, wall sconces, and pendant lights can help brighten
up space and make it appear larger.