Feel the light - transform your home with lighting

Posted 4 April 2016 by Richenda Oldham

Good lighting can transform a room, giving it energy, ambience and function. WhatHouse? explains how to get the right lighting levels for your home.

One of the most important - yet all too frequently neglected - aspects of interior design is lighting. Wallpaper, paint, curtain fabric and furniture all bask in the spotlight, but what about the spotlight itself?

Lighting is much more than just choosing an overhead light and a few table lamps. Good lighting can improve the energy of a room, providing atmosphere and improving productivity.

There are four different types of lighting:

Ambient lighting

This is the basis of most lighting schemes as it provides overall illumination for a room. It is a general light, similar to daylight and is normally created by a single light (or it could be wall lights), that is switched on when you walk into a room.

Task lighting

This is also known as directional lighting, as it focuses on a particular area where you will be performing a task, eg reading, writing, sewing, food preparation. Task lighting has an important job as working under bad lights will be detrimental to your health as well as potentially dangerous, such as cutting food or using a sewing machine. Poor lighting will also put strain on your eyes.

Accent lighting

Accent lighting is used to highlight features within a room. This could be a painting, an architectural feature such as a fireplace or panelling, or even plants.

Decorative lighting

This is where the light fitting itself is the focal point. It could be a magnificent chandelier or an oversized pendant, or a table lamp. However, decorative lighting can also be used to provide an ambient light source or be a task light, such as a pendant light suspended over a dining table, where it would provide a focus of light on the task of eating.

Which fitting?

Pendant lights: This is a single fitting, which hangs from the ceiling suspended by either plastic coated electrical flex or textile cord. The term applies to anything from fabulous crystal chandeliers to Gothic lanterns.

Downlighters: These can be recessed into a ceiling or mounted on the surface. They are either fixed or can swivel to produce directional light that is ideal for task based lighting, such as in a kitchen or to accent a particular feature in a room.

Uplighters: These add soft mood lighting to a room, creating ambience. Choose from wall mounted or floor standing varieties.

Wall lights: This category covers any wall-mounted light and there are plenty of different types to choose from, such as period candle effect fittings with shades, or ceramic bowls that diffuse light upwards, or chrome spotlights, which can be used to focus light on specific areas of a room.



1. Bessy lamp, £55, www.loaf.com

2. Leiston Pendant Light, £178.20, www.jim-lawrence.co.uk 

3. Stag 10 light pendant, £870, www.davidhuntlighting.co.uk

4. Candy coloured Truman wall lights, £39 each, www.made.com

5. Circus black and white stripe floor lamp, £499, www.frenchbedroomcompany.co.uk


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