When it comes to decorating our homes, we all tend to concentrate on the ‘big’ obvious things: wall colours, floorings and furniture. Yet, it is surprising how much little details can make a difference. Soft furnishings, accessories and lighting are often after-thoughts when they can radically transform the atmosphere of a room, and make it a success… or spoil everything.
Perhaps because lighting is perceived as an ‘add-on’, people are generally less skilled about using it as a design element. Here are the most common mistakes to avoid.
- Go easy on the recessed downlights
Recessed downlights are very popular. They make a room look modern, they are inexpensive, low maintenance and ideal where head room is limited. Yet, up to only half of the light they emit can escape from the fitting onto vertical surfaces, which is where the eye perceives it. So you may feel that many downlights will give you a bright, cheery room, but that won’t necessarily be true. You can end up with dark corners no matter how many spotlights you fit.
Likewise, if your home has gorgeous high ceilings, spot lights won’t be the right solution. Not enough light will reach eye level and you will waste a lot of luminosity, not to mention money spent on electricity. In that case, hanging ceiling lights are better and you can even think about a beautiful chandelier and make it a visual focus.
- Don’t forget task lights in the kitchen
No matter how skillfully your ceiling lighting is arranged, work surfaces often need their own lights as wall cabinets and your own body will block luminosity. A very common solution is under-cabinet LED lights. They will project exactly the right amount of light you need to see what you are doing, and they also look incredibly sleek and can transform your kitchen design into something truly special. But choose the colour of your under-cabinet lighting wisely and think ‘practical’ first of all.
- Using downlights in bathrooms without adding some form of wall lighting next to the mirror
Downlights can reflect nicely off taps and sinks, but they will also create hard and unflattering shadows on faces, so they do need to be complemented by lights at eye level on the side of the mirror. This will give the right amount of luminosity you need for shaving or applying make-up as well as preventing a gasp of horror each time you catch your reflection!
- Not adding separate controls to adjust lights differently
Experienced light designers know the importance of being able to adjust the light independently in different areas and you will only be able to create the right effect if your installation is flexible. Dimmable LEDs are a must, and to achieve the flexibility you need, you can either have multiple light switches installed, a programmable wall box system with pre-set scenes, or wireless controls which can be controlled from a Smartphone or computer.