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Lighting Bedrooms for Children

How to avoid the Pokemon syndrome

Many years ago when our son was young there was a huge Pokemon craze and Charlie and his friends were obsessed.  Not so for many parents – my husband and I would draw straws as to who would have the task of accompanying the kids to the cinema.  Normally we loved taking the children to the cinema but we both disliked Pokemon.  In fact it was the only time that I was almost pleased if our son misbehaved as I would have no alternative but to carry out my threat: “If you misbehave you WON’T go to the Pokemon movie!’ But as we parents know these phases come and go.

To get to the point – one of Charlie’s best friends was treated to a bespoke hand painted bedroom by a local artist. The walls were covered in Pokemon action scenes.  All his friends were green with envy, his parents were happy and proud despite their lighter pockets – and the room was repainted a couple of years later.

The moral of this story: your child’s life is a progression.  What your child needs today in terms of decoration or lighting in their room may change in the years to come.  That’s why I will always try and be flexible when lighting a child’s room.

Here are a few recommendations.

Ceiling Light

My favourite ceiling fitting is the Ethel Lampshade by One Foot Taller.  This merely fits to a ceiling fitting (either a pendant or flush light fitting) and gives a lovely soft light out.  It’s one of my favourite lighting products.  I’ve used it in a dental surgery in an old converted warehouse where the ceilings were low and I’ve put it in countless bedrooms and living rooms.  One client recently praised it saying it’s a light that’s there but not there.  It’s also practically indestructible and will withstand numerous pillow fights.  Also you can literally take if off the light fitting and wash it in the bath with a shower hose.  Easy.

Wall Lights

Over the course of the following years the furniture may vary from cot to single bed to bunk bed to double bed so the room has to be flexible to accommodate the future changes.  My favourite method of incorporating this is to use plug in wall lights.  The Scandinavians use these far more than we do in the UK and their lights often will come in with a lead but can be hard wired if preferred.

I love the Radon wall light by Fritz Hansen.  A wonderfully flexible fitting that can be flipped up for reading or can be tucked in to give a soft ambient light so very useful if your child needs a light on before going to sleep.

Original BTC also do several wall lights that can come with a plug in flex, available in fun funky colours.  Also, if necessary you can order additional length lead and different variations but this would need to be done by phone rather than via the website.

If you’re on a budget it’s worth looking in Ikea as they have quite a few plug in wall lights.

Fibre Optic Starlight Ceiling

One magical addition you can make to your child’s bedroom is creating a twinkling star ceiling – this will be enjoyed for many years, right up to adulthood.  But… before you get too enthusiastic about the idea you need to assess the access to the ceiling of the room.  If there’s a loft about the ceiling, or you’re in the early stages of a new build then this is a feasible option; if there’s no access from above you should drop it like a hot potato.  I use Starscape fibre optic kits.  Your child will love them but your electrician will curse you – they are time consuming to install and there’s quite a bit of thought that needs to go into creating random perforations that are random in a balanced way.  I know – I’ve spent many hours at the top of a ladder!

If you have any questions about your ceiling do give them a ring as they are incredibly helpful.

Lamps

 

The final tweak you can make is by adding colourful lamps.  Don’t like the colour of the lamp base?  Why not paint it with an Annie Sloan paint?

Want a unique lampshade?  Why not make your own shade with a kit from Dannells.

All the above leave a flexible room for the future when your children grow up and come back to stay as fully fledged adults.  And not a Pokemon in sight!


New Build Site Safety

Think Safety on a Building Site

Several years ago I visited a client who was renovating a Victorian property which had been completely gutted and we were walking around the first floor, discussing various options for the lighting.  I was distracted, looking up at the height of the ceilings and beams that were exposed when I turned to walk into a bedroom only to find that there was absolutely no floor at all!  No barrier, no tape, no police cordon indicating ‘human about to die here’ – just a sheer drop to the floor below. My emotions ranged from shock to relief to disbelief that anyone could be so stupid and gung-ho with people’s lives!

It only takes a second.  Literally!  An interior designer friend told me of an incident she witnessed whilst working in South Africa when a workmen dropped a screwdriver from some scaffolding which proceeded to slice through a worker’s head like butter.  He died on the spot.  Always wear a hard hat!

A government report shows that there were 38 fatal injuries to workers in the construction industry in the UK during 2017/18. The majority of deaths were from workers having fallen from a height (48%), 12% being trapped by something collapsing, 11% being struck by an object, then down to 9% being struck by a vehicle and 6% dying from contact with electricity.  Apparently the annual average is 39 – a terrible number of precious lives and grieving families.

The number of non-fatal injuries is phenomenal – 58,000 in 2017/18 although this will range from a mere scratch to extreme breakages.  Apparently, though there were more injuries in the Agriculture, Forestries and Fishing sector than construction.  View the full report here.

We can’t go around living in terror that we’re going to fall off the perch at any moment but we can at least take precautions.  When a foreman on a building site asks you to put on a hard hat and wear a high-viz jacket please thank him and shake his hand.  They may not be the flattering or fashionable items of clothing but they are there for your protection and could save your life.

 


How to Light a Hallway

How do I light my hallway?

A question that is often asked when planning lighting for the renovation of a home or a new-build project.  For a relatively small percentage of a house this area will have a great impact on the feel and flow of a building.

I start by looking at a lighting project as a journey.  It may help to literally close your eyes and imagine opening the front door.  What are you greeted by?  What is the feeling you want to create?

Analysing the following points can help you get it right.

Main Entrance Hallway

Is this the main entrance to your home that your visitors will see first or is it a transitional space or back hallway?  Is it situated on the ground floor with ample natural light or in a dark basement?

Think of how the space is being used.  It’s often useful to have a console table which allows for a surface for placing necessities, perhaps with a mirror above for checking the tilt of your hat before leaving the house.  If the space is large enough a lamp or two can work well to soften the area; if the hallway is tight then a wall light, or two wall lights either side of a mirror can help to lower the lighting to create warmth.

Proportions

How high is the ceiling in proportion to the length and width of the space? What greets you at the end?  Over a decade ago I did the hallway (left picture) in a basement leading to a playroom/teenagers’ den. Would I do it differently today? Absolutely!

These days we have some wonderful LED profiles which can either be incorporated into a shadow gap or could be placed centrally to cast light on one or both walls. The downlights were not the ones I specified and should have had wide beams to create an even flow of light on the wall.

What I wouldn’t change is having some focus on the blank wall ahead.  Here we put a Large Button wall light by Flos  as this picked up on the theme of a further row of buttons in the den.  The wall lights are the Pochette also by Flos

The corridor on the right was a lower ground floor area which would be used for parking bicycles and surfboards so had to be robust and serviceable.  There wasn’t any void in the ceiling above so we created boxing to accommodate downlights on one side and exterior bulkhead wall lights on the other which could withstand being knocked a bit. (Unfortunately these are only snapshots and were taken when my clients were moving in so a huge amount of stuff was lined along one side of the space.)

Artwork and Artifacts

These bring individuality and personality into a space and lighting can be incorporated in a display area if there is enough depth.  Light can be washed onto paintings or family pictures which in turn will bounce light back into the hallway and this can be done either with angled downlights or picture lights which can be very slim an unobtrusive these days.  For the best contemporary picture lights that I know visit Hogarth Lighting. They supply a fabulous array of picture lights and will even tweak the tone of light to compliment your painting.

Floor and Wall Surface

Do you know the finish and colour of your flooring and walls?  This will have an impact on how much light will reflect within the area.  For example, if you place inground LEDs to wash up a wall this will have a much greater effect if the surface is textured and a light colour.

Niches and Recesses

These can add a depth to the space and can often be factored into the build if the project is a self-build or a major renovation.  Lighting can be incorporated into these areas to illuminate objects or can simply be architectural features that can bounce slots of light back into the hallway.

Above all it is important to make the hallway personal and although it can be useful to look at magazines and Instagram always remember that this space is your own and should feel like Home.

 

 

 

 


Bespoke Lighting – Don’t Shy Away

Bespoke Lighting could be just what you need

Around thirteen years ago a wealthy local landowner came into my showroom and drew a sketch of the type of wall lights he wanted for his courtyards and stable yard.

‘Can you find me something like that Claire?’ he asked showing me with his hands a size around 450 mm high. They had to be low energy (we were talking fluorescent in those days rather than LED) and, because his mansion was large in every sense, they had to be big.

Well, I replied, it wouldn’t be easy. I hadn’t come across a fitting matching his description and suggested that it would have to bespoke.

No, no, no, was the reply, he didn’t want bespoke, far too expensive, so I kept on looking.

On one of my trips to the wonderful Tyson showroom in London I came across four beautiful French antique wall lights that met the description and I sent pictures to my client who approved.  There was only one slight problem – there were only four available and we needed fourteen!

Eventually my client relented and agreed that the bespoke route was going to be the best solution so we moved forward, basing the design on the proportions of the antique light fittings. It was agreed that copper was the best metal to use as it would withstand the maritime climate of Cornwall and we even incorporated the family emblem at the top of the fittings giving that final stamp of individuality. Once the craftsmen were selected and the drawings approved the whole process took around 13 weeks.

I can’t include photographs of the final fittings as my clients are very private but I have continued doing work for them over the years and every time I go back I see how the lights are faring. They have patinated gently and sit well against the high granite walls of the building- in fact they totally look as if they belong.

Were the lights expensive? Yes, quite. Luckily, the cost of the design was spread between the fourteen fittings so per unit it worked out less than having one or two individual fittings designed but the price was not horrendous and the result was wonderful.

Sometimes you need bespoke because it is just impossible to find anything that suits the situation and other times it is bespoke that will bring the drama and individuality that is needed in a space. For example, take the amazing Shoal installations by Scabetti 

Check out the website for their amazingly individuality.

If the budget won’t run to the truly bespoke there are many ways to incorporate individuality into the light fittings of an interior.

At a recent Decorex exhibition I was very impressed by a new range of light fittings byDavid Hunt

Take the Hyde Wall light for example – these come in a standard choice of four finishes but there is also a bespoke lighting option of ten beautiful colours.  David Hunt are also doing a wide range of shades in 23 different fabrics which will help to enhance any interior.

Jielde – one of my absolute favourite companies, although not advertised as bespoke supply their wonderful range of lighting in a total of 26 different colours that will bring individuality to any scheme.

Lampshades can do it.  If you’re good at drawing to scale, just work out the size of a lampshade you would like, choose the fabric and get it made by a company such as Iberian Lighting

I’ve used them in the past, such as where we needed three oversized stacked shades for a large hotel lobby.

Don’t want to go quite that far? Check out the range of lampshades by Heathfield  They come in a wide range of sizes and fabrics.

Or if you want lampshades that look truly individual and original check out Beauvamp

In fact I love their shades so much it’s almost worth creating a bespoke interior just to match!

Claire Pendarves
Design Director

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


An End to ‘Throw-Away’ LED Downlights

According to Lux magazine there are radical new Ecodesign law draft proposals stating that ‘manufacturers and importers shall ensure that light sources and separate control gears in scope of this Regulation can be readily removed without permanent mechanical damage by the end-user’.

In other words we are returning to the good old days of being able to change the ‘bulb’ in our own homes without having to call in an electrician and purchase a completely new fitting.

This issue has been my real bugbear since LEDs came in, especially in the days before the retro-fit lamps became so efficient and therefore met the regulations for lumen output per circuit watt.  So many times dedicated LED downlights would fail and the electricians would shrug their shoulders and say ‘it’s just one of those things.’

By the way – why do dedicated LED downlights fail?  Because they generate a good deal of heat – not usually at the front of the fitting but within the mechanism itself.  Therefore the heat needs to be dispersed which is done with heat cooling fins but the cooling properties is often hindered by having a sealed fire rated unit which is so often required in new build properties today.  Also, this is more likely to happen with poorer quality cheaper units.

But even quality fittings can go wrong and this brings back memories of a series of dedicated LED downlights that started failing on various projects I designed several years ago.  These downlights were the new LED versions of good quality downlights I had used in the past and were supplied by a reputable manufacturer but slowly the fittings that had been installed in various projects started to partially fail. Not a happy scenario at all.  Eventually the manufacturer conceded that the original motherboards had been faulty and even came down to Cornwall to replace the entire lighting of a three storey new-build property which was a huge relief to me and my client.

So this is why I am now wary of dedicated LED downlights and why I usually recommend good quality mains downlights that will take retro fit LED lamps, or if more output is required I will specify fittings where the LED part can be replaced separately.  This ensures longevity and future proofs the fitting.  It also saves a good deal of money both in purchasing the fittings and in the money saved by a) not having to call in an electrician every time a unit fails and b) not having to purchase an entire new fitting – if you can find it (and that’s another story…)

This new proposed regulation does make allowances for fittings where the LED cannot be changed separately, such as with smaller LEDs which are used for accent lighting.  Generally I don’t find these to be a problem as they don’t generate so much heat and in addition I will always specify the best quality products here as I generally find it’s a false economy to cut corners in this area.  In the end you get what you pay for.

So all in all I think it’s a good plan for this new proposal.  It seems bonkers that an entire fitting is removed (and put in landfill!) just because part of the fitting has failed.

It looks like someone somewhere is seeing some sense and I only hope that these regulations will be put in place in the UK when we’re not part of the EU.

Claire Pendarves is Design Director of Luxplan Lighting Design


Lighting Designer or Lighting Consultant

What’s the difference between a Lighting Designer and a Lighting Consultant

Your new-build project is progressing and you turn your mind to designing a lighting scheme. Who do you contract to do this work – a lighting designer or a lighting consultant?  Here is a bit more background information.

Lighting Designer – Product Design

A Lighting Designer can be someone who designs the architectural light fittings and the luminaires that we include in our projects. For example Tom Dixon who has a wide range of his own lights as well as other products he designs, Marc Sadler who has designed several renowned luminaires including Foscarini’s Jamaica and of course our own Tom Raffield who creates beautiful bentwood fittings  such as the Butterfly.

These lighting designers concentrate on product design and therefore their speciality is not designing lighting schemes.

Lighting Designers – Theatrical

Lighting Designers can also be specialists in theatrical lighting including opera and rock musical shows. These designers think big and bold and you can’t get much more impressive than Patrick Woodroffe and Adam Bassett http://woodroffebassett.com who made a lasting impact at the London Olympics and continue lighting rock concerts and classical productions throughout the world.  Other notable theatrical lighting designers are Mark Henderson and Paule Constable to name a few.

Excellent lighting in theatrical productions is absolutely critical – get it wrong and the whole event is lacklustre and dreary no matter how impressive the production itself.

Architectural Lighting Designers

These are designers who primarily design larger projects such as offices, museums, shops, hotels, restaurants and larger residential complexes. For example Stanton Williams who recently carried out the lighting for Musée d’arts in Nantes and Maurice Brill Lighting Design who have done a plethora of international projects such as the Lanesborough Hotel in London and the Gritti Palace in Venice.

These types of lighting designers are very high end and any residential projects taken on would be exceptional as their work schedule is primarily taken up with the larger design jobs.  All lighting designs would closely co-ordinate with other design mediums using BIM and their specialism is design only, not supply.

There are other types of lighting designers who concentrate more on residential lighting and generally work on the premise that they will design the lighting with the assumption that they will also supply the fittings. John Cullen Lighting for example have some of their own products manufactured to their specifications but also supply architectural lights from other suppliers to which they allocate their own codes.  Although this means that ordering is relatively easy it also gives less flexibility for the client if the electrical contractor wants to supply direct from the manufacturer.

At Luxplan we work more as Lighting Consultants as we don’t supply the fittings and all our schemes are produced with full transparency so that clients can purchase the products themselves. However, we will also call ourselves lighting designers as that is the most general term used.

 


Designer Lighting: Is it Diminished by Over-Exposure?

Designer Lighting

Scenario: You’ve just spent £600 on a designer pendant light for your new-build home and then you walk into your local McDonalds and see it hanging just near the stand for the ketchup and straws. How do you feel?  Luckily I hadn’t just bought such a designer light and I hadn’t specified the light for a client but I did walk into the local takeaway to see this very much admired designer piece on full display and somehow, well, it just doesn’t feel the same any more.

So why do we buy designer items? Is it the form, the cut, the ergonomics?  Or is it the exclusivity which is usually linked to the cost?  In other words the pricier the item the more exclusive, ie fewer people can afford it so therefore seen less.  But then large chain outlets will have big clout – they’ll be buying in quantity and, if rolling out the same design throughout the country, will undoubtedly be placing substantial orders with the producers which means that they can specify lighting without being overly concerned with the cost.  But is it short-sighted of the design houses to supply to large chain outlets and does it ultimately have a negative impact on the way their products are perceived?

Above are some snapshots of designer lights that I have encountered on the high street. I love all these light fittings and I’m not here to name and shame any of them as they enhance our shopping and eating experience but to be honest I would think twice before specifying them for a client, or I would at least warn them!

What do you think?


New Build Lighting Costs

How much will it cost to light my new build? ask self-build owners. How do I budget for my lighting?

There’s not an easy answer to this but you, as the instigator of the project, probably hold more answers than you know. Here are a few personal observations from my years as a lighting designer.

Architectural Design of the Build

The design of your building will determine how much natural light you can take advantage of – position and size of the windows and surrounding landscaping will have a strong impact on the interior illumination. The more you can benefit from natural light, the fewer light fittings you will need to purchase and the lower will be the running costs so it’s worth bearing this element in mind during the initial planning phase.

Initial Cost versus Running Costs

There are two elements to bear in mind – the cost of a) purchasing the products and b) installing them and then there’s the price of running them over the years. Incorporating a home automation system can be quite a hefty outlay initially but there are economical features that can be integrated and an installer will be able to arm you with the figures to help you make an informed decision.

Keep it in proportion to the rest of the Build

If you are looking for a high end finish throughout the building the quality of the integral fittings should be in line with the standard of building materials and other fitments. I’ve seen projects let down at the eleventh hour by clients saving (the tiniest proportion of the complete build cost) by using plastic light switches or cheaper LEDs giving out glary cold light.  And I’ve even had a client who presumed the cost of lighting the entire house would be equivalent to the price he was paying for a rather luxurious bath tub.  As the saying goes “Don’t spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar”.

What defines expensive?

Everyone holds an approximate price bracket in their heads and this is greatly influenced by what their priorities are. Several years ago when I owned a lighting and lifestyle showroom I had a beautiful ribbed nickel picture light on display in the shop front; the price was approximately £200.  A client of mine admired the piece but baulked at the price and asked who on earth would pay so much for a wall light.  This same client owned a designer clothes shop in the same town and there were only a few items of clothing in her shop that would come under this price bracket.  I may be biased but if you factor in the enjoyment per day, per month, per year I would say that my wall light won hands down over a dress worn a handful of times but then it’s all a matter of priorities…

Get it right Now

I’ve had clients who say they like subdued light and want to hold back on the number of fittings. Whilst I am a great advocate of mood and ambient lighting an allowance for greater task lighting should always be borne in mind, especially as over the years we will need more light with our aging eyes.  No one wants the hassle of adding more lighting once the build has been completed and whilst lamps can help add illumination to living rooms and bedrooms it’s not so easy in bathrooms and kitchens where more task lighting is needed.

So how much will it cost?

In short I’m afraid there is no easy answer but as a lighting designer I like to know more about the style and quality envisaged for the project and will propose the best, most cost-effective solution for the scheme in hand always bearing in mind quality and longevity.

By Claire Pendarves

Lighting Designer – Luxplan Lighting Design


What type of downlights should I use in my new-build

How do I choose downlights for my self-build project?

“What type of downlights should I use in my new-build” is a question which raises its head in the early stages of a building project. “Should I go for dedicated LED downlights or use fittings that will take retro-fit LED lamps?”

Here are some tips that I can offer from my experience as a lighting designer.

Designer Downlights

Recently some clients had fallen in love with an LED downlight by a renowned design company and wanted to incorporate these in their lighting scheme. The fittings were beautiful with the light source set back (always recommended), a gold domed interior and a minimal trim giving all the benefits of trimless without the complication of needing to be plastered in.  In addition the fitting had a wide variety of specialities that could be incorporated such as beam angle, colour temperature, CRI, light source and dimming protocol.

The fitting was a beauty but there was only one problem – price. These designer downlights don’t come cheap and although of prime quality, incorporating these in a full house design can drive up the budget exponentially so they are not usually the average self-builder’s first choice.

Dedicated LED Downlights

Whilst you may not want to blow the budget on the top designer downlights my ethos is that if you are going to incorporate dedicated LED downlights then you need to go for the best for these reasons.

Colour Temperature and CRI

These are not the same thing – Colour Temperature relates to the warmth of the light emitted and CRI (Colour Rendering Index) means how colours will look under the light. The higher the CRI the better the colours will look (more akin to natural sunlight) and lower the colour temperature the warmer the light.  Generally the better quality downlights will allow for 2700°K and 90 CRI but you would be hard pushed to get this from a standard cheaper version.

Low Glare

There is nothing worse than dazzling glare from downlights so the light source should be set back, either within a dome or with a baffle such as these below. A dark baffle or dome will absorb more glare and a gold or copper toned dome will warm the light further.

Low Glare Downlights copy

Longevity

The guarantee issued by the manufacturer is only as solid as the manufacturer issuing it and manufacturers can merge, reform or go into administration. Technology can fail and LEDs are no exception so try and ensure that you purchase dedicated LEDs from quality suppliers and don’t pay too much attention to the 10 year guarantee.  Even when all is well with the manufacturer/supplier over the years your LEDs will change slightly in terms of colour and output and replacing one failed LED with a brand new replacement will often ‘jar’ in the existing overall scheme.

Output

In residential situations this is usually more of an issue where ceilings are high as a more punchy amount of light will be required to travel the distance. Retro-fit lamps can’t get quite such high output as a dedicated LED fitting although in most domestic situations I don’t find this is an issue.

Alternatives

So, whilst good quality dedicated downlights may tick all the boxes in terms of function and design, the price and longevity issues make it worth considering the alternatives.

Various Downlights

LED lamps

The quality of retro-fit LED lamps has vaulted in the past few years with excellent colour temperatures and CRI and even the facility to warm the temperature as they are dimmed – perfect for dining rooms.

Just caste your mind back to when lighting was easy. The ‘bulb’ died and you popped another in within a matter of minutes.  Things have now come full circle but with a difference – the ‘bulbs’ are LED GU10s or MR16 lamps and the need to change them is rare though much easier than calling in an electrician to replace a dedicated LED fitting.

A good source for purchasing LED lamps online is: https://www.ledhut.co.uk/spot-lights/gu10-led-bulbs.html

Always ensure the lamps you select are compatible with the dimmers used.

Mains or Low Voltage Fittings

There are still many low voltage downlights available, particularly from Europe, although my feeling is why have a transformer when you can avoid one more link in the chain that could go wrong. When the budget is restricted my tendency is to specify good quality Mains downlights that take LED GU10s, most of which cost about £100 less than the designer light I mentioned at the beginning.  Worth thinking about.

Top Tips

Avoid ‘runways’ of lights – concentrate on where the light is actually going to fall

Don’t have all downlights on the same circuit – this will help manipulate the ambience

Ensure that fire hoods are used where necessary if fittings are not Fire Rated

Avoid using downlights in vaulted ceilings – insulation will be compromised

Future proof your project – go for the best LEDs or choose standard fittings with LED GU10s

 

This post was written by

Claire Pendarves – Lighting Designer and Design Director of Luxplan

We offer a lighting design and specification service throughout the UK

 

 

 


Planning your Lighting for Open Plan Living

How to Light Open Plan Spaces

Lighting Design by Luxplan

Planning the lighting for your new-build may seem daunting to self-build enthusiasts but with careful thought you can enjoy the benefits of a lighting layout that is not only atmospheric, but functional and energy-efficient as well.

With the vast improvement in insulation materials over recent years the effect on our interior spaces has been quite dramatic. We are now able to lift our living areas into lofty heights without compromising on warmth whilst creating open plan, interconnecting living zones where the social functions of a modern-day family can be accommodated without the barriers of internal walls and doors.

It’s an exciting prospect for the self-builder to envisage the seamless interconnection of their living spaces but at some stage they will have to face the task of planning the lighting which is a vital element in creating atmosphere and functional zones. The designing of the lighting plan is totally linked to how the space is going to be used and it is attention to detail in the early stages that will create the most effective and dramatic results.  Put off the decisions and there is a danger that the outcome is blanket lighting akin to an office – spend time attending to the details and you will find you can zone the areas creating harmonious living areas through the very use of light

Furniture

In order to achieve the best lighting effects the internal space needs to be planned; this is particularly important with kitchens and bathrooms but to achieve the best results, planning where the furniture will go in the open plan space will reap vast rewards.   Seating may not always be near the walls, especially in large spaces, so deciding where the sofas and lounge chairs are going to be placed means that floor plugs can be situated in these locations either as standard plugs or part of a 5 amp circuit for lamps. It may be that a large rumbustious family area is not conducive to lamps in which case some downlights (with dark baffles for minimum glare) strategically placed over reading or games areas is more task focussed and when dimmed, can add to the atmosphere.   It’s still worth factoring in the floor plugs though, even if they are not required initially, as the occupants’ needs may change over the years.

Hamilton supply a good range of floor sockets

Deciding where the dining table is to be situated is often challenging but again it is worth making the decision as, in addition to selecting any feature lights, there will be dark nights when fish (with bones!) may be consumed – even if your own eyes are sharp and young at the moment, it is always worth future-proofing your lighting.

Layering Light

The secret of good lighting is to have layered light coming from various levels and it is here that the latest in LED technology can be brought into force with inground uplighters and floor washers adding interest as well as high vaulted ceilings being accentuated with spots or troughs housing LED casting light up onto the ceiling. Positioning and angling of linear LEDs is important – ideally you need enough space for the light to breathe and should aim to avoid any reflection of the individual LEDs within the tape.  It is always worth noting that such lighting tends to show up any imperfections in the wall; this can be used to your advantage where the walls are purposefully textured but this is not always the case with supposedly smooth walls. There are several suppliers of plaster troughs and diffusers which are invaluable when planning indirect lighting; we often specify products from Orac Décor.

Orac Decor C357

Points of Interest

From a design point of view, wide expanses of wall sometimes need breaking up and, if there are no relevant architectural features to highlight, it is here that the formation of niches or shelving – either to display objects or artwork – can incorporate lighting thereby serving a dual purpose. Similarly, light can be bounced off walls with the use of angled downlights or spots and this is where feature walls with artwork or textured walls can serve a dual purpose.

Here we incorporated lighting behind opaque panels placed at the back of the shelves which added interest and also helped to widen the room.

Lighting shelves

Planning Circuits

Planning the circuits will pull the design together and it is worth imagining various scenarios during this process and how they will interconnect. There will be times when, whilst the focus is in one living area, having the unused areas plunged into darkness would leave you feeling cold and vulnerable.  Soft and subtle lighting in these regions gives a feeling of connection and, with the latest LEDs, can be executed whilst consuming minimal amounts of electricity.

The more circuits that are incorporated in the lighting design the more flexible will be the living space and it is here that home automation can come into its own. If there is only one area in the house where home automation is used it is here that this facility is invaluable. Many owners will profess that it is ‘all too complicated’ but in fact the reverse is true.   The software deals with the complicated bit – all you have to do is select the scene on the wall switch, phone or remote control to set a scene out of a pre-planned few.  Much easier than twiddling dimmers or forgetting which switch relates to which circuit and it is a facility that is fast becoming a pre-requisite in contemporary new builds.

A simple home automation system that is worth checking out is Loxone

Stairs

With an open plan living space on the ground floor the stairs are often part of, if not a feature, of this area. Left in darkness this is another zone that can leave us feeling vulnerable and isolated and there are now numerous ways to accentuate beautiful stairways with low energy LEDs and feature lighting suspended from the floors above.

Flexibility

Contemporary living spaces will often have large expanses of glass allowing natural light to flood in during the day but bear in mind the gloomy overcast days of our British winter when you will want to whack up the light in the core of the building. Good quality light output is required more on dull days than during the evening or night so factor in some crisp lighting to pep you up on those February mornings.

Connect with Outside

When night does fall, ensure that some accent lighting has been incorporated beyond the plate glass windows as this will cheer the interior and will serve to soften the edges of your living space. Uplighting trees or plants with simple spike spots can still look dramatic and is a flexible solution to exterior lighting in the early stages of the building’s life; even path and step lights can add a magical element to the garden when viewed from the interior.

Carefully planning your lighting in the early stages of the design will ensure that your space is flexible and functional and you will reap the benefits in the years to come. And bear in mind the pace at which things change in the building world – unless we plan for tomorrow we are already planning for yesterday.

Lighting Tips

Plan your circuits

Decide where your furniture is going

Incorporate dimmers

Consider Home Automation

Luxplan - about the author

We design and specify lighting schemes throughout the UK and beyond.  All projects can be carried out remotely and are fully transparent enabling our clients to purchase light fittings direct from suppliers at the best prices.