SOME SIMPLE WAYS TO USE LIGHTING TO ENHANCE YOUR HOME by Bill Noble (lighting designer)
The lighting in a room can make or break the space. With the right lighting you can make an ordinary space look dramatic, narrow corridors can be made to look wider and ceilings appear higher. Conversely fantastic spaces can be ruined by bad lighting so you need to take care what you do!
The first rule of lighting is if youíve got it, flaunt it. The easiest way to add drama to a room, or to the exterior of a house, is to highlight some of the architectural features. Oak beams, interesting nooks and recesses, arches and columns are all good candidates for being lit by a discreetly positioned spot or two. Columns can be lit very simply by using adjustable narrow beam spots recessed into the floor or ceiling, or both! If you have a vaulted ceiling with attractive oak beams you can accent them to great effect using discreet adjustable spots surface mounted onto the beam, adjusted so as to cast narrow beams of light along the beam. Even without beams vaulted ceilings benefit greatly from being lit.
Not got any suitable architectural features? Then why not make one! How about a dropped ceiling with lighting around the edge to make it appear as if it is floating? Or how about creating a false wall that lets you add recessed nooks, each individually lit. These nooks can be used to show off interesting objets díart, or left empty and simply painted in interesting colours. Bathrooms are particularly appropriate spaces for recesses that can be both functional, for storing towels, soap, shampoo, etc., and for decorative effect when lit to create a relaxed mood for that long leisurely soak in the bath. Put this lighting on a separate dimmable circuit and you can create a subdued mood similar to using candles.
Donít forget your photos, paintings, and sculptures! Why not make a feature of your favourite artwork and show it off to its best advantage by lighting it. The best way to do this depends on the location, and how likely it is you may want to move or change the artwork. It is usually best to use adjustable ceiling recessed spots, rather than wall mounted picture lights, as the ceiling spots provide much more flexibility allowing you to change the artwork whenever the mood takes you. If the painting is large you might like to use two ceiling recessed spots adjusted to cross light the picture. Excellent places for illuminated artwork include: over the fireplace in a lounge or dining room, behind the bed in a master bedroom, and in the entrance hall.
One of the most effective lighting techniques that you can use is also, as it happens, one of the simplest, and cheapest. By using a floor standing uplighter the size of a baked bean tin you can create a discreet hidden source of light in the corner of a room. Positioned perhaps behind a chair, a table, or a potted plant. This mysterious and decorative light source appears to come from nowhere washing up the walls and onto the ceiling, adding texture and mood to the overall lighting scheme. These uplighters can be simply plugged into a standard 13A power socket, or, for better control they can be plugged into a dimmable 5A round-pin lighting socket controlled by a light switch on the wall. You could even use a retrofit lighting control system that lets you control lights plugged into 13A sockets using a handheld, or wall mounted, remote control.
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