Lighting advice

Few projects demonstrate the power of lighting as well as this featured home. Lighting is a tool that can set certain moods, add drama and ultimately turn your house into a welcoming home.

Renovate Lighting the way article
ARTICLE Stephanie Matheson, PHOTOGRAPHY courtesy of Lighthouse

Lighting is an integral part of this beach house, making it a beacon of excellence in lighting design.
Few projects demonstrate the power of lighting as well as this house. Lighting is a tool that can set certain moods, add drama and ultimately turn your house into a welcoming home. However, careful planning is required to achieve this. Richard Gray from Lighthouse explains: “As lighting designers, we create a detailed lighting plan early on to ensure you get effects that make your home that much more special. This takes a variety of factors into consideration such as the layout and style of the home, the ceiling stud height and the theme of the décor.”
The house is a brilliant example of excellent lighting design and can provide practical guidance and inspiration for renovation projects. “Many of the features we incorporated here can easily be implemented in a renovation,”  says Richard. “Be aware though that getting back to the bare bones of an existing building can reveal unforeseen problems. We make sure we go back again during the renovation and ensure our lighting plan is still workable – structural issues may mean that we need to change our approach.”
A lightening house
Being a new build, the original lighting plan could be followed through without compromises. “It’s a very contemporary house with linear features,” says Richard. “We used a range of lighting techniques to highlight these. Lighting really integrates with the architecture here.” Brendon Gordon, Director of Brendon Gordon Architecture, couldn’t agree more: “We had consciously designed the features of the house to be lit, so the lighting design was included in the architectural design.”
The arrival sequence was carefully constructed to achieve real drama. Vertical louvers on the first floor let light wash onto the courtyard, creating a striped effect. This regularity then contrasts with the elliptical shapes cast by Egoluce STEP LED wall lights. “We played with linear and elliptical planes,” says Brendon. “The latter pick up the form of the columns and focus the attention on the beautiful sandstone. We wanted to visually float the main pavilion, and lighting is used to exaggerate its columns, helping to create a floating notion. The main three-storey high wall is lit by LED strips where it touches the ground.”
Continuing the floating concept, a cantilever stairwell is simulated from the front door up to the first floor. The thread and vertical faces of the stairs have a translucent sea grass image printed on them and this is illuminated with LED strips. “It’s probably the biggest lighting feature of the house,” says Richard. “We used strips as well as little LED fixtures in the wall that shoot out beams of light, so you get a fabulous laser beam effect as you walk up the steps.”
A living room with open plan space
However, it’s not just the big features that make a difference. Many small lighting details add to the ambience and are achievable in most homes. Richard says: “We used step lights in exterior decks, retaining walls and ceilings to wash light onto path areas and highlight the exterior structure of the house. Interior wall washers are great for ambience with up and down effects, or directed up to reflect light off the ceiling to reduce the cave like feeling that recessed lights give.”
Lighting up outdoor features is an easy way of creating impact. Halogen in-ground lights are a good option where a different beam spread is needed, for examples for illuminating large trees. For many other outdoor lighting situations LED lights are now a popular choice. Richard is a fan of this technology: “They produce less heat and offer a very long life span. They also reduce power consumption by some 80 per cent. We used outdoor LEDs extensively in this home. The swimming pool, for example, has an LED strip installed just below the spout of the waterfall, accentuating the flow of water.”
LED is also becoming more and more popular as the main light source for interior lighting. “We’re seeing many new LED downlights for living rooms,” says Richard. “The technology has been tested for many years now and is becoming more affordable, so we’re not afraid to specify LED for the entire household.”
In living rooms, recessed lighting is often used in combination with wall washers or display lighting to create layers of light. Getting the brief right early on pays off as it means that the light will be doing the job where it should be – ideally even taking into consideration furniture and picture placement. The house features  ‘light boxes’  in the ceiling with glass sidewalls that match the kitchen splash back and exaggerate reflexions.
Creating an intimate atmosphere, a pendant (sourced by the client) over the dining table is a fabulous choice for formal dining. Dining rooms are often open plan, so the ability to control the light across the entire living/dining/kitchen area is important. This could mean installing multiple switches or installing a home automation system. Open plan areas also mean that all lighting hardware has to tie in with the furniture and with each other.
A bathroom with a lot of lighting
One of the most important areas to light well is the kitchen. Richard and his team generally use a number of LED strips with different intensities to create ambience – under toe kicks, island benches, cupboards and bench tops. Shiny surfaces and glass splash backs reflect the light, adding to the lighting effect. Style wise almost everything is possible (including colour changing features) although the trend for contemporary homes is a linear look with square, elongated lines and unobtrusive light fittings.
Task lighting in the kitchen can be provided by halogen or LED downlights. LED has enabled the use of miniature lighting products and is said to be more than adequate for this with an intensity ranging from five to 15 watts. Richard says: “In the house we installed lots of LED strips throughout the kitchen, along with a feature pendant over the kitchen bench/island. I think people like to make a statement by using pendants. Pendants also work well as a visual room divider.”
In bathrooms, lighting has to be able to render colour correctly – for tasks such as putting on make-up – and is mostly provided by fluorescent lamps. Because LED does not render colour well enough, it is mainly used for indirect, ambient light here. “We use low level LED lighting around toe kicks and under vanities and benches to create ambience – it’s especially effective if there is a feature such as a stand alone bathtub,” says Richard. The house, again, shines as a prime example.

You might be interested in reading: Choosing the right outdoor lighting.

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This article by Stephanie Matheson featured in Issue 004 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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