Good lighting design requires careful consideration early on

Good lighting has the power to enhance your interiors – Renovate's interior design expert Donna White explains how.

A bedroom with decorating lights
COLUMN Donna White

When God said ‘Let there be light’, he omitted to mention the notion to the renovation trade.  Bad lighting comes from the fact that historically the only light in a room was provided by a central pendant. Yes, the central pendant will provide light, but it throws it in all directions, with no focus. This general type of lighting is bright and mostly unexciting, and rarely contributes to a room’s potential. However, combined with table lamps, wall lights, and other light sources, it can be effective.

Lighting design needs to be planned at the beginning of a renovation project. Early consideration will keep the costs down and ensure that you get the best possible lighting solution for your home. It requires preparation and planning, as you will need to consider the room function, furniture layout and picture position when creating a lighting plan. It may be worth getting advice from an experienced professional on how to prepare your lighting scheme.
Lighting, like colour, has the power to affect mood. When I advise clients about lighting, I encourage them to think of their home as a stage. I ask them to consider how a theatrical lighting technician will use lights to spotlight a new character and evoke a whole spectrum of moods throughout a performance. By using lighting effectively in our homes, with the flick of a switch or the turn of a dimmer, we can bring a room to life.  
Many people start with the light fittings when choosing a lighting a system. However, it is not the visual appearance of the fittings that matter, but the light effects they create. In other words, you need to be aware of what the light is doing, rather than what the fitting looks like. Sometimes a compromise is required.
Good room lighting is made up of a number of effects. Just as an interior designer layers textures and patterns, a lighting designer will use a variety of different lighting techniques in each room to achieve an overall result. It is by balancing the intensity of the various effects that lighting moods are created.
Where to begin? Think of the tasks to be performed in each area of every room. Most rooms need two or three different types of lighting. For example, in a kitchen you might want bright under-cabinet task lighting combined with general lighting. In the living room many different activities take place, so the quantity and quality of light should be as varied.
Concentrate on three main types of lighting: general lighting, feature lighting and task lighting. General lighting provides overall brightness and is essential for everyday use. Feature lighting creates the highlights and works best when the light source itself remains hidden, so attention then focuses on the object, painting or an architectural element it is spotlighting. Task lighting is designed for specific needs, such as food preparation in the kitchen, reading in bed, or shaving or applying makeup in the bathroom.
When various light sources are wired to separate switches (each with dimmers), you will have control over their intensity. If only a single dimmer is provided in each room for all lights, then they will all be dimmed together, and the relative brightness between all the light sources will forever remain the same. Dimmers manipulate light to dim and brighten, in other words they help transform the atmosphere of a room.
LED (Light-Emitting Diode) is the future of light bulbs. Compared with a halogen lamp of the same light output, the LED has significantly lower energy consumption, but has an exceptionally longer life. Not only can LEDs emit a cool or a warm white, they can also softly change colour. The LED really boosts the creative potential in planning attractive lighting.
Good lighting will enhance your interiors, without being obvious. It is only bad lighting that is noticed. This may be because it is too bright, or too dark, or because it draws attention to the wrong elements of a room. The simplest of spaces can be infused with richness and depth, dimensions can be enhanced, structure highlighted, and textures emphasised when you use all the lighting tools at your disposal.

You might be interested in reading: The right LED lighting for your home.

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This article by Donna White featured in Issue 003 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.


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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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