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10 Ways to Improve Home Lighting Without an Electrician

10 Ways to Improve Home Lighting Without an Electrician


Want to learn ways to improve your home lighting without an electrician?

Here are some simple measures to upgrade your interior lighting

1. Replace your existing light bulbs

How long have you been using these? Are you still using some horrible old fluorescent bulbs?  They should all be dumped (in an environmental way). It may be tempting to hold onto them – after all they last for years – but you really don’t want to be living with bulbs that give out worse and worse light as they age.

Replace all bulbs with fresh new LED bulbs/lamps with a warm temperature colour – I prefer 2700°K – and preferably a high CRI. The CRI (colour rendering index) of your bulbs is important. Try and get as near to 100 as possible – this is the purest daylight. Over 90 CRI is good.

2. Add Floor and Table Lamps

Introduce floor and table lamps to provide additional lighting where overhead light fixtures are inadequate. They can also add to the décor.

Check out these plug in uplights that are great at creating atmosphere and help to give the visual impression of heightening a ceiling.

3. Install Smart Bulbs

Use smart bulbs that can be controlled via smartphone apps or voice assistants. You may think that these are only for the tech-savy but they are surprisingly simple and you can easily follow instructions on YouTube.

Light bulbs often come with adjustable brightness and colour options and you can even adjust the temperature of the light for the time of day, which can help you sleep and also assist you with waking up in the morning.

4. Use Rechargeable Lamps

If you don’t have an electrical socket near an area where you need additional light then it’s a wonderful opportunity to use one of the fabulous new rechargeable lamps on the market. These can also double up as additional lighting in the garden when you’re entertaining.

5. Use Battery-Operated Lights

Install battery-operated LED puck lights or stick-on lights in dark areas like closets, under cabinets, or in hallways. The quality of light can sometimes be a little cold but they’re useful as functional lighting.

6. Place Mirrors Strategically

Use mirrors to reflect light and make spaces appear brighter. Position them opposite windows or light sources to maximize natural and artificial light.

7. Update Lampshades

Swap any old or dark lampshades for lighter, more translucent ones that allow more light to pass through.

8. Lighten the Interior Decor

Paint colours and interior décor can have a huge effect on the feeling of light inside a home. Try doing some or all of the following:

  • Paint walls and ceilings in a light neutral colour
  • Avoid dark furniture that can literally eat light
  • Select light coloured flooring that will help reflect light back up into the room
  • Rearrange furniture to allow light to flow

9. Window Treatments

Lighten window treatments using light coloured or translucent fabrics, or use simple blinds that will give privacy without darkening the room.

Velux blinds and plantation shutters (in light colours) are an excellent way of accomplishing this.

10. Use plug-in dimmers on sockets

If you don’t want to use any lighting apps such as Philips Hue then you can buy plug in dimmers for your lamps. This can give you the adaptability to dim your table lamps and floor lamps in the evening but put them at full brightness on a gloomy day.

NB You’ll need to ensure you buy dimmable LED bulbs to use this feature.

Claire-PendarvesClaire Pendarves originally qualified as an interior designer and is now a lighting consultant with over 20 years’ experience

Meet the Designer

Lighting an Old Cottage – Expert Tips

Lighting an Old Cottage – Expert Tips


Expert Tips on Lighting an Old Cottage

Lighting an old cottage has its challenges.

Many of us dream of a cosy country cottage with roses around the door but it takes a bit of thought balancing modern lighting effects with a classical interior – and doing it sympathetically.

The main drawback with an old cottage is low ceilings (often beamed) and small windows. And then there are often quirky features that can affect the amount of natural light coming in.

So, when it comes to lighting an old cottage you need to consider how to light it for the day and the night. Oddly, planning the lighting for the day can be more challenging.

At night an old cottage can be charmingly lit with table lamps and floor lamps so, as long as the kitchen has good lighting, and the stairs are lit safely there’s not usually a rush to sort the lighting out.

It’s a different matter during the day, especially in the winter and this can make a dream cottage quite gloomy if you don’t get the lighting right.

Here are a few tips to help with the lighting of an old cottage or old house, and as the decoration can also have an impact, I’ve included some interior design tricks as well.

Unbalanced Light

If you have natural light only coming from one side of a room you need to balance it by casting light onto the rear, otherwise it can feel rather like a cave at one end.

Incorporating light onto this back wall can be done if various ways:

  • Downlights near the rear wall washing light down
  • Illuminating artwork on this wall by tilted downlights or surface spots
  • Uplights washing light up and reflecting on the ceiling (see Case Study below)
  • Wall lights

Each situation will have one or two methods that are most appropriate and your own design and living style will steer you towards your own best choice.

I believe you need to be careful about how many downlights you incorporate into a classical property but, used cleverly (with dark baffles so you don’t see the source of the light) they can create a good amount of light without being a feature.

Low Ceilings

This can be one of the bug bears of an old building. The lower the ceiling, the less light is able to travel to the back of the room. Often ceilings are beamed and these beams are frequently dark.

Painting the ceiling and beams a light colour will make the ceiling appear higher and have a big effect on the amount of reflected light in the room.

Restricted Space for Downlights

So often the recess depth between the ceiling and the floor above is shallow which makes fitting fire rated downlights tricky. If the ceiling is beamed, there is no depth at all.

See if you can partly fill between two beams and create enough depth to take downlights towards the back of the room. You wouldn’t notice this filling when you’re in the rest of the room.

Using discreet spotlights to cast light onto specific points on the walls such as artwork or objets can help to reflect light back into the room.

Use Uplights

Small inground LED uplights set in the floor can give a magical effect by skimming light up a wall and reflecting light off the ceiling. This can give the illusion of a higher ceiling.

Wall Lights

These are often the best way of bringing light into the room but it’s best to select fittings that are compatible with a traditional interior. They need to cast a good amount of light out into the room, and not create any glare. Also beware of having too many in a room – it’s best to mix it up.


Mirrors help to reflect natural daylight, especially when placed opposite a window. They also multiply light coming from other sources such as lamps and wall fittings in the room.

Quality of Light

This is in terms of light temperature and selecting light fittings or bulbs that give out a pure light. I prefer 2700°K temperature bul you also need to consider the colour rendering (CRI) which, ideally, should be above 90.

Light Coloured Curtains

Rich fabrics can suit old properties but if you select a dark material for your curtains they’ll eat up the light so you’re better off going for a light coloured fabric, or at least, predominantly light.

Lighting Case Study

I was called to a lovely Regency house in Falmouth which overlooked the water. They were converting the lower ground floor into a playroom and occasional guest room with a sofa bed. The room was very low! Anybody over 5’9 would have to bend their heads in places. It certainly wouldn’t have passed building regs in this day and age.

As well as incorporating some shallow downlights in a few positions, I suggested putting a run of small LED uplights to run along the back wall. As they didn’t want to disturb the old slate floor I proposed building out some boxing to accommodate the LEDs which would make it very easy and was an economical solution.

Despite the husband being extremely sceptical in the beginning once it was done, he was delighted and phoned to say how pleased they were. No photos I’m afraid,

Claire-PendarvesClaire Pendarves originally qualified as an interior designer and is now a lighting consultant with over 20 years’ experience

Meet the Designer

Lighting Coastal Gardens in Cornwall

Lighting Coastal Gardens in Cornwall

Lighting Coastal Gardens in Cornwall

Lighting Coastal Gardens Cornwall

I’ve worked as a designer in Cornwall for over 25 years and have learned from experience (sometimes bitter!) how harsh the maritime climate can be when it comes to lighting coastal gardens.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid pitfalls when it comes to lighting your garden near the sea.

Salt and Corrosion Resistance

Just because a fitting looks nautical doesn’t mean the material it’s made of is robust enough to withstand the harsh maritime conditions. The best metals to go for are bronze, brass, copper, marine grade stainless steel or even hot-dipped galvanised steel.

Bear in mind that where you place the fittings will also have an effect on corrosion. I’ve known the best marine grade stainless steel to ‘tea stain’ when placed beneath an overhang. This was with one of my lighting design projects in St Mawes, Cornwall. The reason for this is that the fitting wasn’t being washed by the rain yet was still subject to the salty corrosive air. If you’re concerned about this, make sure you wash and grease the fitting from time to time.

Check out my core selection of brass wall lights suitable for coastal gardens


Go for good IP ratings although it’s worth bearing in mind that many EU products aren’t always tested to such a high spec as in the UK. I’ve bought some fabulous exterior fittings from Scandinavia which have lasted years – in reality they would be IP65 quality in the UK but only come with an IP44 testing certificate. So you can use your judgement provided the exterior light meets safety regulations and you consider where it’s going to be placed, But always be super-vigilant if you’re anywhere near the sea spray.

When using drivers or transformers I like to be extra cautious so, to be on the safe side, it’s best to specify water-proof versions and place these in a water-tight box. That way you have double protection,

Wind Resistance

Choose sturdy fittings that will withstand the high winds that can occur near the sea. Make sure that bollards have extra strong fixings or are cemented in situ. A fitting that will work in a city garden will get much more of a hammering near the coast!

Water Tight Connections

It’s always true when lighting any garden that you should think of any joints as the ‘weakest link’ and try and cut down on under-earth connections as much as possible. If you have no choice but to connect beneath the soil then use a joint kit, using crimp sleeves and an adhesive heat shrink. This should help avoid any ingress of moisture into the light fitting. Be firm about this with your electrician.

Also where possible specify longer leads that will reach the driver or mains supply.  This is usually only possible with high spec fittings but if you have the option if would be best to pay that little bit extra for a longer lead.

Glare Control

It’s always important to consider any glare that light fittings emit and try to minimise this by the light fittings you select, and where you place them. This can be even more relevant in coastal gardens that are sloping or terraced. Low level lighting works well when lighting pathways and steps but, if you have a lot of steps, it can often be more cost effective to choose slightly larger fittings (hooded) that give a wider spread of light.

Check out this core selection of outdoor step lights 

Position of Fixtures

I’ve designed several cliffside gardens in Cornwall and have learnt that you always need to consider how you will maintain the fitting without risking life and limb. Even LED fittings may need maintenance at some stage and LED bulbs on mains fittings will need to be changed – not that often hopefully,  but it’s always worth bearing in mind.

Environmental Impact

Try to consider the effect that the selected light fittings will have on the wildlife and any neighbours. It’s tragic to see a coastline punctuated with bright glary lights that affect the enjoyment of people living in the vicinity. Even the largest, most beautiful gardens can be lit discreetly and sympathetically. Remember the adage Less is More.

In summary, provided you consider all the elements above, then lighting coastal gardens is pretty much the same as landscape lighting in any part of the country.

12 Quick Tips for Lighting a Garden

12 Quick Tips for Lighting a Garden


Here are some quick lighting tips for lighting a garden.

Light for inside as well as outside. Most of the time (in the UK) you will be seeing the garden at night from the house, so use this to your advantage. By lighting a couple of feature plants, for example, close to your living area you’ll minimise the mirror-like blackness of large glass windows, as well as creating a stylish feature.

Create zones that can be controlled separately for different functions and times of the year. Subtle lighting in the winter can pick out interesting features and make the garden seem less bleak at night but you’ll want more lighting for entertaining in the summer when everything is in bloom.

Path and Step Lighting is crucial but doesn’t need to be merely functional. It can be attractive as well. Avoid glare with hooded steplights or LEDs set into the stringers. Path lights set in the ground can wash light over the route without any dazzle.

Check my core selection of outdoor step lights here

Don’t Overlight the garden for several reasons. Too much light will make it feel flat and cold. You’ll also annoy the neighbours as well as frightening the wildlife away.

You need less light than you think. When you look at the wattage of a bulb or LED output, don’t compare it to lights you choose for the interior. Light is greatly accentuated against the inky darkness. You’ll need less than you think.

Use light to ‘paint’ your garden. Uplighting trees and plants, grazing light up walls and focusing pools of light on interesting features will create magical effects and, when carefully planned, can double-up as functional lighting.

Factor in easy controls for lighting a barbeque and outdoor kitchen. This is functional lighting that needs to be turned off, or at least dimmed, once the cooking has finished otherwise it will affect the atmosphere. Much easier if controlled close to hand.

Security lighting should be on a separate circuit. This can double up as functional lighting for when you’re unloading the car in the dark, but you don’t want it glaring away when you’re enjoying a tranquil evening in the garden.

Don’t skimp on quality. Although it’s tempting to ‘economise’ on exterior lighting you’ll regret not buying products that are up to the job. Go for good IP ratings and make sure that the finish will withstand the elements, especially if you’re near the coast.

Consider Rechargeable Lamps for entertaining. There’s a fabulous array of outdoor lamps that you can charge up ready for when you’re entertaining. This makes planning your garden lighting so much easier and more flexible,

Lighting the house façade and front garden can make a big impact. This is very much part of the garden and dramatic effects can be created by up-down lights flanking the entrance, wall lanterns, or uplights washing up the building.

Check out my core selection of exterior up-down lights here

Build in a bit of magic. There was a time when fairy lights were saved for Christmas but nowadays we can enjoy the magic of twinkly lights throughout the year. There’s a great selection of solar powered fairy lights on the market which makes it very easy to add ambience to your garden without the need for an electrician.

12 Interior Design Lighting Mistakes

12 Interior Design Lighting Mistakes


12 Interior Design Lighting Mistakes

And How to Avoid Them

This page may contain affiliate links which means I’ll earn a small commission in the event of a sale – at no extra cost to you

1. Dimming

Being able to dim your lights is absolutely crucial as you’ll then be able to modulate the atmosphere at different times of the day.

Think of an open plan kitchen/living room – rainy Monday morning, getting the children ready for school. Breakfast, homework, sports gear, go! That same space will be used on a Saturday evening, entertaining friends, when you’ll want a subtle, relaxing atmosphere and a totally different mood.

Of all the mistakes with lighting I believe this is the most crucial and it’s pretty easy to replace your switches, even if you’re not doing any other work to your home.

There are some beautiful dimmers out now. This new innovative toggle dimmer from Soho Lighting combines the look of a classical toggle switch with a dimming function. Comes in a wide range of high quality finishes although I particularly like the vintage brass shown here:


Ceiling lights can also be a source of glare – see more about pendant lights below.

Lighting Tip: When buying any feature lights double check the details. Some pendant lights look stunning on the internet, but have integral LEDs that are not dimmable.

2. Not Enough Circuits

There’s no getting away from it. If you want to full control of your lighting scheme then you’ll need enough circuits.

For example, the open plan room mentioned above is basically three living areas in one, and each area will serve its own function. You won’t want the kitchen highlighted when you’re just sitting watching TV and you won’t the dirty dishes under a spotlight when you’re eating at the dining table.

Circuits are important in bedrooms and bathrooms too. Think through how you would use the space during the day as well as the evening, and the different scenarios in between.

You may be tempted to hold back on the number of circuits when you’re planning your interior design lighting, but you may well regret it. Always better to get it right in the beginning.

3. Glare

One of the top lighting mistakes is glare. Downlights are one of the worst culprits for this, mainly due to low quality fittings that have the source of light close to the surface. So, when you’re looking from one end of a room, say a kitchen, all you see is spots of glare in the ceiling.

Remedy: Make sure the light source is set back, ideally with a dark baffle. Think of walking down the corridor of a smart hotel. You shouldn’t be aware of the source of light, but just have the soft lighting illuminating your way.

These downlights are my favourites for absorbing glare due to the dark baffle. There’s the fixed version or the adjustable version which is useful for washing walls. They are both fire rated and take GU10 LED lamps.

pinhole-downlight-fixed pinhole-downlight-adjustable

4. Flat Lighting

If you have all the lighting coming from one direction, namely the ceiling, the effect will be flat and dull. The secret to good lighting is layering, and this can be done with the use of additional wall lights and lamps. Here are some of my go-to wall lights.

If you think about daylight, it doesn’t come from just one direction, apart from when the sun is really low, and shadows are cast. And there’s nothing softer than a hazy day – one of those beautiful summer mornings when the light is almost ethereal.

Flat light can be harsh and unflattering. You need to be cognizant of this when planning your bathroom lighting – wall lights (not glary) either side of a mirror will give the best light for shaving and putting make up on. And you certainly wouldn’t want to be lazing in a relaxing bath with downlights blazing – see Dimming, above.

5. No Lamp Points

Lamps make a room warmer and cosier, and help with zoning areas in the space. But it can be a bit of a bore turning several lamps on and off every time you enter and exit the room. That’s where 5 amp lamp points come in so you can control everything from one light switch.

If you’ve got a large open plan living area you definitely need zoning – and the last thing you want is long cables running across the floor to a seating area that’s away from the walls. If you fit some 5 amp lamp point sockets in the floor near the seating area you’ll be grateful you did.

These in-floor lamp sockets are excellent. They have flaps so everything is neat when not using the 5 amp point, and come in a wide range of finishes.

6. Cold Light Temperature

High on my list of lighting mistakes is having lighting that’s too cold.

Many manufacturers will quote 3000°K light temperature as being warm white but ideally you should opt for 2700°K in living areas. And don’t forget about the colour rendering.

What is colour rendering? If you’re buying an item of clothing, you may want to take it into the daylight to check the true colour. Why? Because daylight will give a true, pure colour and is classed as 100 on the Colour Rendering Index.

Having lighting with a good CRI will mean that your fabric colours pop, your food looks amazing and the tones of natural wood will be enhanced. Good for our own appearance too. What’s not to like?                                                                                          !

So check the CRI of your light bulbs – ideally go for 90 CRI but you can even get up to 97 which is par excellence.

7. Wrong Pendant Lights

Although these could be classed as feature lighting, it’s more than just the shape that’s a consideration. The type of light these give out will have a big effect on the overall feel of the interior.

A large metal pendant light may look lovely but remember that all the light will be coming downwards. They can work but will need other lighting in the room to assist – otherwise you’ll end up feeling like you’re being interrogated in some 1960s spy movie when you’re sitting at the kitchen table.

Get the hanging height right. Too low and you’ll feel like you’ve walked onto the set of some Nordic noir film. Too high and it will give the impression of a skirt being hitched up.

8. Positioning

It’s not just what light fittings you choose but it’s where you put them.

Don’t leave it to the electrician. You should get involved and ideally go through all the positions and heights with the electrician during first fix. This is important during refurbishments as well as I’ve seen some dire decisions being made by the sparky to overcome structural obstacles.

My advice is to place wall lights at approximately eye level, in most cases.

Inground LED uplights are usually designed to skim the walls but if they’re placed too far away, the effect is lost. Generally I recommend placing the centre of the fitting 100mm away from the wall to get the impact.

Floor washing LEDs will create a sharper cut of light and tighter splay when placed lower down, closer to the floor – there are some excellent skirtings that make this easy. Higher up the wall, they will give a softer effect.

9. Balancing Light

If you’ve got a lot of natural light coming from one direction, you’ll need to balance this incoming daylight with some additional lighting towards the back of the room.

In the early stages of planning your lighting it’s worth analysing where the rooms are facing and how this will affect the light in the room at different times of the day.

If you’ve got a bright room but will be walking into a dark hall, try and soften the jolt of this transition by ensuring you have enough illumination in this darker area.

Try and avoid dark holes. So, for example, when you’re lighting a corridor and there are offshoots leading to say, the cloakroom, or a study, make sure there’s some soft lighting in these areas also.

10. Overdoing PIRs

PIRs – sensors to turn on lights automatically – are great in certain areas but be careful of overdoing them.

Having a PIR in a utility room is useful as you’re often carrying things when you enter and leave. PIRs are also useful in bathrooms for low level lighting during the night, as well as along corridors – especially useful when young children are in the house

It’s tempting to have motion sensors all over the house. I’ve heard parents groan that their children keep leaving lights on and have asked to have PIRs in their bedrooms. But many of us will have experienced being in a public convenience where we’re plunged into darkness and have to wave our hands madly to jolt the lighting back into gear. Not so pleasant for a child reading their bedtime story!

11. Task Lighting

Every area needs to have some task lighting built in, and the facility to dim this element down, or turn it off separately from the rest of the circuits.

This covers reading, cooking and food preparation, as well as cleaning. Even in a bedroom you’ll need to have the option of turning up the lighting so that you can clean thoroughly or look for a lost earing. This can often be covered by a pendant light that can turned up to full power, but you’re stuck if you decided you just wanted it soft and moody during the planning.

12. Dismissing Home Automation

Another interior design lighting mistake I’ve seen is not considering an automated lighting system. I’ve known client dismiss it, saying it’s too complicated. In fact, it’s the opposite.

If you think about how we live these days, so much of our time is spent is large open plan areas where, in effect, you combine three rooms: the kitchen, dining room, and living room. To create enough variation in the zones and moods, you need at least six different circuits, often more. That’s a lot of switches. That’s a lot of brain power remembering which switch controls which lighting circuit, and a lot of twiddling to get it right.

So, if you want to make your life easy, I would recommend installing some form of automated lighting system. It doesn’t need to be complicated – the technician deals with that part – but it does mean that you can set the ‘scenes’ and will only need to press one button to create a whole setting for various times of the day and different activities. Whilst you’re at it, you may like to include automated blinds which many of my clients find is a bonus.

But there’s a happy medium.

If you’re very techie, you may want to go as far as being able to control the exterior lighting from your phone when you’re lying in bed or set the lighting to automatically come on when you’re overseas, but bear in mind that costs will start mounting up. The most important area is the main living space.

And Finally… It’s not just about the lighting

It’s easy to compartmentalise design without thinking about how all the other elements will dovetail together.

Wall textures, interior design colour schemes, and existing imperfections will all have a bearing on the final lighting effects.

For example, dark walls, dark fabrics and dark woods can literally eat any natural light coming into the room. At night you can make it atmospheric but during the day it can be a bit gloomy unless you plan lighting to counteract it.

The Abigail Ahern look is great in magazines, and undoubtedly very stylish when entertaining in the evening, but how would it feel on a hot, bright summer’s day? Worth thinking about.

It all comes down to planning. If you analyse the existing, or future space, and think through various scenarios for when you’re using the area, you’ll cut down on lighting mistakes and hopefully

Claire-PendarvesClaire Pendarves originally qualified as an interior designer and is now a lighting consultant with over 20 years’ experience

Meet the Designer

Glass Globe Pendant Chandelier Lights – Designer Picks

Glass Globe Pendant Chandelier Lights – Designer Picks

This page may contain affiliate links which means I’ll earn a small commission in the event of a sale – at no extra cost to you

Glass Globe Pendant Chandelier Lights – Designer Picks

Are you searching for a statement pendant light that looks lovely, gives out a good amount of light when needed and isn’t glary? Then glass globe pendant chandeliers can be the answer. Here I’ve concentrated on chandelier style lights with globes that are frosted or opaque so the light fitting is even softer on the eye.

All these ceiling lights can be dimmed, depending on the bulbs you use with them – not always possible with all ceiling lights, especially when they come with integral LEDs. They work well in modern or classical settings and they’re not stupid money.

These are all in brass or gold finishes but some of them are available in variations as well.

Please note that prices are correct at the time of publishing this article but they may have changed. No particular order and you’ll find some of the cheaper ones near the bottom. Very random but I like them all.

12 Glorious Glass Globe Pendant Chandelier Lights

1. Indra Opal Glass Ceiling Light


Indra Opal Glass Ceiling Light

This is an impressive chandelier with a total of 9 glass globes which take small screw in bulbs. The fitting gives out a really good amount of light and is dimmable with the correct bulbs.

Height 69 cms Diameter 80 cms

£504 from John Lewis

2. Bombazine Multi Armed Ceiling Light


Bombazine 7 Arm Glass Globe Chandelier

A stylish seven armed globe ceiling light that takes small screw in bulbs (SES) so will give out a good amount of light. Dimmable provided you buy the right bulbs.

Height 36 cms Diameter 94 cms

£510 from John Lewis

3. Lindo 6 Glass Globe Pendant Light


Lindo 6 Arm Glass Globe Pendant Light

This graceful chandelier doesn’t make quite so much of a statement as the ones above but would look lovely as a bedroom ceiling light, in a living room or over a dining table. It takes little 2-3 watt LED G9 capsule bulbs so will give out good light but not so much as light fittings using SES bulbs. Best to buy dimmable bulbs.

Height 32 cms Diameter 68 cms

£295 from John Lewis

4. Grosseto 6 Glass Globe Ceiling Light


Grosseto 6 Glass Globe Ceiling Light

An excellent ceiling light if you don’t have very high ceilings but still impressive as has a good diameter. A good price. It takes small G9 lamps so won’t be super-bright but with 6 globes, it will give out adequate light and is dimmable provided you buy dimmable bulbs.

Minimum Height 30 cms Diameter 59.5 cms

£201 Merano Lighting

5. Bombazine 6 Arm Globe Light Chandelier


Bombazine 6 Arm Globe Light Chandelier

A lovely design with 6 glass globes that accommodate small screw in globe bulbs (SES) that will give out more light than the capsule lamps of some of the other fittings. Recommend buying dimmable bulbs.

Height 30 cms Diameter 67 cms

£450 from John Lewis

6. Cape Town 12 Arm Globe Pendant Light Chandelier


Cape Town 12 Arm Globe Ceiling Light

This light reminds me of mistletoe with its cluster of small frosted glass globes. It also works well as a semi flush ceiling light as the stem can be shortened. Takes small G9 LED capsules and is dimmable provided you buy the correct bulbs.

Minimum height 50 cms Diameter 90 cms

£360.95 Cosmo Lighting

7. Oscar Globe Pendant Light


Oscar Globe Pendant Light

This small chandelier looks wonderful in a hallway or over a stairwell. I has 11 arms and frosted glass globes which take small G9 capsule lamps. These can be dimmable provided you buy the correct bulbs.

Minimum height 52 cms Diameter 56 cms

£244.87 Endon Collection Lighting

8. Maytoni Dallas 25 Light Chandelier


Maytoni Dallas 25 Light Chandelier

This is such a fun light, almost frothy! Makes a fabulous statement piece but, as it’s relatively shallow, would suit a room with a moderate ceiling height. Great as a pendant light for a living room or a bedroom chandelier.

Shown here in a gold metal but also comes in black, chrome and brass, as well as having the option of smoky glass globes if you prefer.

Minimum height 22.5 cms Diameter 69 cms

£464 Maytoni Lighting

9. Modern Hanging Pendant Golden 6 Light


Modern Hanging Pendant Golden 6 Light

The most economical of the selection on this page, this 6 globe light has a maximum drop of 98 cms and, like all the pendant lights listed here, gives a good amount of light out, down as well as upwards.

Dimmable provided you buy the correct G9 bulbs tht it takes.

Minimum height 28 cms Diameter 55 cms

£195 Italux Lighting

10. Grosseto 10 Globe Pendant Ceiling Light


Grosseto 10 Globe Pendant Ceiling Light

An elegant, large glass globe pendant chandelier that would still look good in a room with a relatively low ceiling. It takes small G9 capsule bulbs but, as long as you buy dimmable ones, you’ll be able to adapt the mood by whacking up the light on gloomy days and dimming down to soften the look in the evening.

Minimum height 30 cms Diameter 91.7 cms

£441 Merano Lighting

11. Industrial and Retro Hanging Pendant Light


Industrial and Retro Hanging Pendant Light

This 6 glass globe pendant chandelier looks great in a hallway or over a stairwell, even in a living room if the ceiling is high enough. It takes small G9 bulbs but you can get dimmable versions of these which I would highly recommend – that way you can adapt the mood.

Height 79 cms Diameter 56 cms

£228.38 Italux Lighting

12. Apollo 5 Light Globe Pendant


Apollo 5 Light Globe Pendant

A beautifully balanced glass globe pendant chandelier with 5 glass orbs that take G9 capsule lamps. Dimmable provided you buy the correct dimmable bulbs.

Height 61 cms Diameter 81 cms

£550 Elstead Lighting

Lighting Design Plan: Questions and Answers

Lighting Design Plan: Questions and Answers

Lighting Design Plan Q & As

One of the first questions a client will ask is How much will a lighting plan cost? But of course it depends. There are reams of other questions as well, so here I’ve tried to pre-empt some and answer them below.

When should I plan my lighting?

Try not to leave the design of your lighting plan until the last minute – start tackling it at the same time as other details such as flooring, heat pumps and kitchen design. It’s up there with the rest.

The earlier you decide on your lighting layout, the more you can weave in modern techniques such as hidden LED lighting profiles and inground LED uplights. And it will help with your budgeting as well. Your electrical contractor can’t really give you a quote until they know what’s required.

Do you need to visit the site to design a lighting plan?

I offer an online service so don’t need to visit provided I’m given detailed architectural plans. Even with local lighting design work I’ll usually work on the plans before the build has even started so distance isn’t an issue.

Will you do a lighting design plan for only part of my house?

I’m happy to design whatever areas you wish although I do have a minimum fee of £250 which will usually cover a large open plan area, such as a kitchen/dining room/family room. This will include one phone call or zoom meeting prior to starting the design.


Here you will see a lighting plan I carried out for a large living room with a high ceiling and two seating areas. I also incorporated a coffered ceiling and some further linear LED lighting. The clients didn’t want any wall lights.

Alternatively, why not check out my article How to Light Open Plan Spaces

How long does a lighting design plan take?

It usually takes 10-14 days but I would let you know beforehand if the lead time is longer.

Do you supply the lighting?

No, I only do the lighting design plan and specify the lights I would recommend. In the past I’ve supplied a huge number of lights and know from experience, which products are worth investing in. I also use my interior design skills to recommend feature lights that I believe will enhance the interior.

What should I supply for a lighting design plan?

I need to have architectural plans and, ideally, cross-sections, especially if there are sloping ceilings or complicated levels. Also kitchen layouts as well as bathrooms and, if you’ve given it some thought, it helps to know how you plan to place any furniture in the living areas and bedrooms.


The above bathroom lighting design plan shows how areas can be integrated without lighting up the whole area when not in use.

It’s always good to have a zoom meeting or phone call to learn about your style preferences and vision for the project.

How will my electrician understand the design?

I mark up the lighting design plan with clear symbols and a legend showing what each glyph refers to. I also supply a section illustrating all the proposed light fittings as well as a spreadsheet detailing each circuit, product reference, and the supplier so everything is clear.


This is a lighting design plan for a hallway and stairs in a traditional house. Every design is different, and the lighting layout here was in line with what my client liked and the limitations of the existing building.

You might like to look at my article on hallway lighting tips

Do you include a switching plan?

No, your lighting design plan won’t include the switching plan. This is for three reasons.

  1. The plan starts to look messy and confused.
  2. When home automation is used the switching plan is not really required – only circuits.
  3. It takes time and is often subject to many changes, dimming positions etc.

Please state from the outset if you would like a detailed switching plan and I quote for this in addition.

Do you plan Home Automation?

I don’t get involved in home automation per se, but I mark up the circuits so this can be incorporated into a smart home set up with ease.

Do you mark up electrical sockets?

No, I don’t include other electrical elements of the project.

Will you work out the lighting design plan for my kitchen?

It’s always best to have the kitchen plans from the kitchen designer but I appreciate that this isn’t always possible in the early stages. If the architectural plans show the correct positions of the kitchen furniture, I can work with those or alternatively, if you sketch the design, I can transcribe this (as best I can) onto the plan and work from there.


This plan shows the early stages of a kitchen lighting design. It was tweaked slightly later when the client decided to incorporate an antique dresser.

Will you do a lighting design plan for a barn conversion?

Yes, I design lighting for a wide range of projects including renovations of traditional houses, cottages and barn conversions.

Will you do a garden lighting design plan?

Yes I will, and it’s an area I really enjoy doing. Again, I will need a detailed landscape plan to work on. Please let me know, when you ask for a quote, if you would like the garden included – usually the quote will just include exterior lighting attached to the house.

I’m also happy to do a landscape lighting scheme separately if required.

What if I don’t like the lights you specify?

This may happen more with the light fixtures rather than the architectural lighting as choosing light fittings is very personal – rather like selecting clothes. I try to gauge your style preferences during the initial discussion (by phone or zoom) but it’s very subjective.

The lights can easily be replaced with fittings that you prefer later but it helps to know the type of fitting and position, so you can select something later. I don’t propose alternative luminaires but I do supply a list of websites to help you source the perfect lights for yourself.

Can I make changes to the lighting design?

Nothing’s set in stone and I won’t charge for one set of changes within two weeks of presenting the design, provided the project layout remains the same. Otherwise, for further alterations a charge will be made based upon an hourly rate.

Claire-PendarvesClaire Pendarves originally qualified as an interior designer and is now a lighting consultant with over 20 years’ experience

Meet the Designer

Hallway Lighting Tips by a Lighting Designer

Hallway Lighting Tips by a Lighting Designer

This page may contain affiliate links which means I’ll earn a small commission if you make a purchase – at no extra cost to you.


The Importance of Hallway Lighting

They say it takes just 7 seconds for us to make judgements about the people we meet. The same goes for your hallway. It’s the first area visitors see and within seconds the tone of your home is set.

It’s also the place that greets you every day you come home so you want it to be welcoming and to lift your mood at the end of hard day’s work.

Of course, the décor will have a big impact but it’s the lighting that makes the biggest difference, especially in the evening.

Lighting is a Journey

When I design a light plan I literally visualise walking through the front door and assessing how it would feel. How it looks you may say. Yes, but I maintain that lighting is more than the look. Lighting is emotion. You want your home to look beautiful but most of all you want it to make you feel good.

So, open your front door and assess the bare bones of your entrance hall. Of course, hallways can range from a grand vestibule with a sweeping staircase to a dingy corridor with a multitude of doors. Each space will need its own treatment, but general rules apply.

The Atmospheric Circuit

These days we can weave in small LED uplights and floor washers, as well as some discreet wall lights that barely use half the amount of electricity of an old incandescent light bulb. Creating a circuit with these light fittings can warm the area and help connect your living spaces.

These Borgo floor washers create a great effect.

If your stairs are running up from the hallway lighting the treads with tiny LEDs set into the stringers is effective. Not only will these enhance the look of the hallway but, on a practical level, they’re useful when you want to nip upstairs without the need to turn on the overhead lights.

When there are children in the house, it’s a huge benefit to have this low-level lighting running up to the landing outside their bedrooms. This helps them, and you, feel connected on a practical and psychological level.


We all, at a primal level, feel good when we’re near a fire, candles or light reflecting off water. It helps to ‘lift’ us. The same goes with uplights. They make the area feel lighter – and I use this term in sense of weight here. They also help to lead us through an area, as well as adding to the layering of light, which is a crucial element of good lighting design. More about that later.

Placed at the end of a long hallway, uplights have the effect of enticing us on our journey. Placed either side of the entrance door, they can even enhance the approach to the house, when viewed from outside.

Lighting tip no.1 : Go for low glare fittings so they don’t shine in your eyes as you walk past.

Lighting tip no.2:  Narrow beam output will be punchier and, will reflect off the ceiling for a lovely effect.

Floor washing

You need to mix it up in terms of effects, and combining some floor washers with LED uplights works well, especially down a long corridor. It also helps to bring some gentle light into small areas running off the hallway so that you don’t have dark voids.

Lighting tip no. 3: Try and get a rhythm with the placement of these. Sometimes this can be tricky if there are a lot of doors leading off the hallway.

Layering Light

Lighting coming from only one direction can be flat and lifeless so it’s good to mix it up. Usually, you’ll want two or three circuits, depending on the size of your hallway. This can be done with the LED Atmospheric circuit, then wall lights, downlights or a feature pendant light.


Not all downlights are created equal. The worst can be glary and emit a cold, almost bluey light. Choose downlights where the light source is set back. For the least amount of glare select ones with dark baffles – these work particularly well in traditional settings and where the ceiling is low. For contemporary interiors, or where ceilings are higher, you may prefer the ones with white baffles but you still want the source of light set back.

Go for a warm light, preferably 2700°K. You can even get downlights and retrofit bulbs where the temperature will warm as they dim. More about those in my piece on choosing downlights.

Lighting Tip no. 4: Always use a dimmer on overhead lighting so you can adapt the mood.

Wall lights

These work well in hallways to help with the layering of light and this is where you can blend the interior design with lighting effects using some statement pieces.

Choose shallow fittings if the space is tight. Not only will they work better visually but they’re in less danger of getting damaged.

These are my 12 Go-Too Astro wall lights

Glass wall lights can work well but beware of glare. Frosted and prismatic ribbed glass help soften the light and holophane glass fits in well with classical hallway lighting.


They come in all shapes and sizes but if you get it right, they can look stunning and give a luxurious air to the space. Consider where you’re placing the fitting for maximum impact. Sometimes it’s better to position a chandelier further down the hall where it can be appreciated from more angles, or occasionally you can marry a small and larger one together in a more spacious hallway.

Large drop chandeliers can look luxurious when fixed to the upper level, cascading down through a stairwell. If you’ve splashed out on one of these you may not need much else in the way of feature pendants otherwise it will detract from the impact.

Beautiful Hallways are Not Just the Lighting

As I trained originally as an interior designer, I don’t just view the lighting element in isolation. There are other things you can do to weave interior design techniques with your hallway lighting.

A Welcome Lamp

In most hallways you’ll want a table, either a slim console table where you can put your keys, letters etc. or a round table in the centre of a wide expanse where you can also place a beautiful vase of flowers.

And it’s always nice to have a mirror where you can check the slant of your cap as you leave the house. This is the perfect spot for a lamp, or even a pair, depending on the size of your hall.

If your hallway is very tight for space, a floating shelf with a mirror above can work well, and a pair of slim wall lights either side can set the scene.


Well placed mirrors can help to widen tight spaces, but you need to think this out carefully. If you’ve got a lot of doors running down a corridor you don’t want to reflect yet another door.

Beware of putting a mirror at the end of a long corridor as it will only make it look even longer.


Incorporating niches can create pockets of interest and help to widen tight spaces. If the layout of the hall takes you towards a blank end, then incorporating a niche with a small sculpture or work of art works brilliantly when lit with a simple mini LED. This is a clever technique – you’re bringing in light yet at the same time creating a feature.


Washing artwork with light helps to create interest and also bounces reflected light back into the space. This can work well at the blank end, or dog leg of a corridor.

One of the first questions I ask clients when I take on a project is if they have any specific pictures or items they want to highlight. This is not just for hallway lighting but other areas as well.

Paint and Wallcoverings

Many hallways will have a multitude of doors running off them and it can all look a bit busy. Painting the walls and woodwork the same colour can soften this all down and is very much the look nowadays.

Bad proportions

Some corridors are long with disproportionately high ceilings. You’ll see this in old mansion flats and the effect is not good, especially where there are several doors. It can all look very utilitarian.

Consider mounting coving housing LED tape, above the line of the doors and washing light up gently onto the ceiling. This shouldn’t be strong light, and ideally should be offset with wall lights to bring some of the light down. Layering again!

Alternatively use pendant lights to bring the level of light down. Globes work really well in this instance as they cast light all around and give the space an airy feel. The worst sort of pendant light you could choose would be something heavy and metallic, although you could get away with it if offset by other lighting effects, such as described above.

See my piece on Best pendant lights for hallways

In conclusion

Everyone will be at different stages of their building or renovation project, and many will just want to enhance their existing hallway lighting without spending a fortune on fittings or visits from an electrician.

If you want to keep it simple, my three top tips would be:

  • Use a table lamp. If your hall is small check out my piece on 10 beautiful slim table lamps for tight spaces.
  • Add a dimmer switch so you can vary the mood.
  • Change your downlights so the light source is set back. This will make them less glary.

Good luck and good lighting!

Claire-PendarvesClaire Pendarves originally qualified as an interior designer and is now a lighting consultant with over 20 years’ experience

Meet the Designer



Vaulted Ceiling Lighting: Consultant Advice

Vaulted Ceiling Lighting: Consultant Advice

Vaulted ceiling lighting can present challenges but, when you do it properly, the effect can be wonderful. Ultimately what you want is the feeling of airy space. The height of a high sloped ceiling can create this, even with a relatively small footprint, but you also want to be able to adapt the mood so you can feel cosy.

Here’s some lighting consultant advice:

Rip Up the Lighting Rule Book

We’re told that there are four main forms of lighting an interior. These are Task, Decorative, Ambient and Accent lighting. I suggest you rip up this outdated rule book and start afresh!

Nowadays, with modern lighting techniques, lights aren’t so single faceted. Task lighting morphs into accent lighting – take low floor washes illuminating steps, for example. Decorative lighting can serve as ambient light and who wants just functional task lighting when it can be pretty as well?

So start from the beginning, forget labels, and think what you need.

  • The space should be bright and lively when necessary – such as on a gloomy day, or when you’re cleaning the area.
  • You want to emphasise the height of the vaulted ceiling without unbalancing the room. More about that later.
  • You want to be able to focus more light on certain areas, such as reading, eating, preparing food etc, without compromising the atmosphere of the entire space.
  • You don’t want all the light to be coming from the same direction – this will give a flat feeling. The key to perfect lighting is layering.

I’ll break it down and make it simple.

Vaulted Ceiling Lighting Methods

Every space is individual and you can’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. So you should start by assessing the space. Stand back (if you are in the space) or analyse the plans, elevations and cross-sections.

  • Are there any beams? Are they metal or wood, functional or feature? Can you fix any lighting to them? Would you want to?
  • How does the sloping ceiling look? What’s the construction? Tongue and groove, simple plasterboard? Are you wanting rustic, country, or sophisticated feel?
  • How many skylights will there be and where will they be located?
  • Where’s the furniture going to be situated? This is easier to work out for a kitchen but for a large multi-functional open plan area situated under a vaulted ceiling, it needs some forethought. It’s not always vital to know for living room areas in the early stage but the more you plan, the better the effect.

Note: It’s not unusual for kitchen islands to be situated directly under roof lights, This can be lovely during the day but can present challenges for lighting in the evenings, especially if it’s a working area. Worth considering if you’re in the early architectural planning phase.

Downlights in Vaulted Ceilings

As a lighting consultant, I’m often sent plans for my design work, where the initial lighting has been marked up, and I’m surprised at how often downlights are marked into a vaulted ceiling lighting plan. I would generally avoid this for the following reasons:

  1. Putting downlights into the pitched ceiling can compromise the insulation in the roof (depending on the construction). LED downlights don’t like having insulation packed around them, otherwise they’ll overheat and won’t last. Consequently, you’ll need to move the insulation away from the fitting which will affect the insulating properties in the roof above.
  2. Most downlights have limited tilt (20-30 degrees) compared to the degree of a pitched roof. If you’re putting downlights in the underside of a sloped ceiling you want to ensure that the light points downwards, and doesn’t shoot across to the other side of the room. This is pointless and creates glare.
  3. If the vaulted ceiling is high, you would need to ensure that the downlights emit a powerful punch of light to travel the distance. Check the lumens.

Lighting Tip: The way around using downlights is by using surface mounted spots but use these with discretion. Preferably use spotlights with dark baffles and where the light source is set back. This will help reduce glare.

Vaulted Ceiling Pendant Lights

Well selected pendant lights can look great in a vaulted ceiling but it’s worth bearing the following in mind.

Size matters. Feature pendant lights need to be large. What looked big in the showroom, or when you saw it online, can look the size of a pea compared to the large space once it’s installed. And then it’s too late!

Lighting Tip: There’s a lot to be said for a large piece (or pieces) of cardboard and a pair of scissors. If you cut out the approximate shape of the pendant light and hang it, or hold it up, it will give you a sense of proportion before you commit to buying a hanging light.

Large feature pendant lights can be heavy so make sure you’ve allowed for reinforcement in the ceiling during the building stage.

For a lightweight, impressive light fitting in a contemporary space the Norm 69 Lamp XX Large (78 cms) by Normann Copenhagen creates a powerful punch without a huge price tag. Smaller ones are available but you will need to put it together, or get someone to do it for you.

There are all sorts of rules (again!) about the height you should hang a pendant light in a given space. Forget them. Each location is different, each occupant of the building is a different height. Ensure you’re on site when the electrician’s hanging the lights. If you can’t quite decide on the height, opt for lower. You can always shorten the lead later, but it can jar if a feature pendant light is set too high. Rather than bringing the source of light down towards the living zone, the light can hang around in the ether.

Lighting Tip: If you want to have a better idea of the height you would like to hang the light, draw an elevation to scale, with the height of a person (personalised if appropriate) and an outline of the size of the luminaire. That should give you an idea of where you would like the bottom of the light fitting to hang.

Make sure you choose a pendant light with a long enough flex. Many chandeliers and hanging lights come with 2 metre length cords, or sometimes even shorter than that. Depending on the height of your vaulted ceiling, this wouldn’t allow the full drop that you really need. Many designer lighting companies will supply a longer flex on request so worth checking out.

As well as checking the specification in terms of length of cord, you should also make sure that the luminaire is dimmable. Some chandeliers or feature lights look wonderful, but they come with built-in LEDs and will often state that they are not dimmable, or require a specific dimming protocol. I would always advise that you’re able to dim hanging lights.

Don’t forget the space above a feature light. If you choose say, a metal luminaire, there won’t be any light transmitted to the space directly above it. This will create a heavy feeling whereas ideally the space should feel light and airy.

Lighting Tip: A feature pendant light that emanates light down, as well as outwards and upwards will have a softening effect on the whole space.

Creating Atmosphere with Vaulted Ceiling Lighting

Accentuating the height of a cathedral ceiling or pitched roof can look impressive but it needs to be done delicately. If you over-light the height, the balance of the room will be affected, and it can make the room feel cold. The best solution is to factor in soft lighting to wash upwards, and ideally be able to manipulate this by using dimmers.

This can be done in various ways

  1. 1.Use linear lighting set into coving around the room, or just beneath the sloping ceiling. Take it down slightly so that the source of light isn’t too tight to the slope, in other words so the light can breathe and has room to travel further up the slopes of the vaulted ceiling. I like the lighting coving supplied by Orac Décor.
  2. Linear light can also work when fitted to the top side of the cross beams running across the room or set above kitchen units or shelving to give a soft glow upwards.
  3. Use surface spots that can tilt upwards to highlight the height of the room, as well as some being angled down to focus light onto specific areas below. These can either be fixed to the ceiling, or cross beams which will mean that the light source will be nearer the surfaces to be lit.
  4. Wall lights, especially up/down architectural wall lights, can chuck light up onto the sloped ceiling which can be very effective.
  5. Punchy inground LED uplights can be set into the floor and therefore wash up onto part of the ceiling. This can look particularly impressive if there’s texture on the walls. They will need to be punchy though and generally, the narrower the beam, the more distance the light will travel.
  6. I’ll sometimes use a series of floor washers, placed high, upside-down to wash onto a sloped ceiling. It’s a simple but effective technique.
  7. And if budget is an issue but you would still like to emphasise the height in some way, you could use a simple wall uplight such as the economical Parma 200 by Astro Lighting.


What to consider with Vaulted Ceiling Lighting

Location of Rooflights

If you have a rooflight situated over a kitchen island or dining table, you’ll need to light this at night, or even on a gloomy day. If you choose a bulky light or lights located under this skylight, you’ll find that on a sunny day a shadow will be cast on the surface below. You may find this irritating.

Fixing a Pendant Light to a Vaulted Ceiling

As I warned above, if you want to hang a bulky, heavy chandelier or pendant light to the sloped part of a vaulted ceiling, or the apex of the vault, you’ll need to warn your builders so that they can reinforce the point where it will hang. They should also be able to construct boxing for the light to hang from the apex, and fixings to go behind the ceiling rose of any pendants hanging from the slope, so that they sit straight. This will look neater.

Lighting Circuits and Dimmers

By allowing for various circuits with vaulted ceiling lighting you’ll be able to manipulate the atmosphere with the use of dimmers.

Consider Noise

It’s wonderful having a lofty space but when I’ve visited clients after everything is finished, they often remark on the noise quality. With hard surfaces, everything can reverberate to the extent that scraping a chair can grate on the nerves. Luckily there are several pendant lights on the market that can help soften the noise, and when they also come with built in style they serve a dual purpose. I’ll put an article together on the best of these lights but meanwhile you can’t go wrong with these fabulous Nur Lights by Artemide. They’re big and bold and will help absorb the sound. A win-win on both sides.

Maintenance of Pendant Lights

It’s always worth thinking about how you’re going to clean the fittings or change the lamps (bulbs) when needed. Even if a fitting takes long-lasting LED bulbs, you’ll still need to change them from time to time. Not so bad when the vaulted ceiling is accessible by a ladder, but more of a consideration for super-high areas such a high vaulted area over a stairwell where you would need to set up scaffolding.


Now with modern insulation techniques, vaulted ceilings are featuring more and more in modern homes. There are also the existing classical buildings and barn conversions that cry out for clever lighting. Even bedrooms in new builds are often set into, what would have been the attic in previous eras. These can present challenges, not only with lighting, but also storage and bathroom design. But here I’ve only covered the lighting. More articles to come.

Claire-PendarvesClaire Pendarves originally qualified as an interior designer and is now a lighting consultant with over 20 years’ experience

Meet the Designer




13 Crucial Lighting Lessons by a Lighting Designer

13 Crucial Lighting Lessons by a Lighting Designer


Planning lighting takes forethought, and it can help to know of possible pitfalls before they happen. I hope these crucial lighting lessons will help when planning your next lighting project.

Avoid Lighting Grids

Downlights have their place, but their placing is important. Positions of downlights should be dictated by where the light needs to fall and not planned in uniform grids. In addition, you don’t want all the light coming from overhead. Mix it up with layering of lighting.

Focus on Light Quality

The quality of light emitted from your downlights or bulbs is dependent on three main factors – output, tone and colour rendering.

  1. Output: This is gauged by lumens (or lux). Brighter is not necessarily better. You don’t want the highest output lights if you can’t dim them, especially if the light source is exposed. This will end up glary.
  1. Tone: Some lamps/bulbs will specify ‘warm white’ as 3000K but in fact this is a bit cool. They can work okay in kitchens and bathrooms, but ideally you should go for 2700K in main living areas. There are even some bulbs you can buy now where the tone will warm as they dim which is lovely for a cosy atmosphere in the evenings.
  1. Colour Rendering: If you’re buying an item of clothing in a store and you want to see the true colour, you’ll often take it to the window so you can see it in natural sunlight. This is pure natural sunlight – a CRI of 100. Check the colour rendering of the lights or bulbs you buy. The closer you can get to 100, the better. This will give you a purer light.

Check out my earlier article: LED Downlights and Spotlights – Did You Know

Designer Dimming

There are some beautiful feature lights on the market but many of them are dedicated LED lights. In other words they don’t take changeable lamps (bulbs) but come with integral LEDs that are fed via a ‘driver’ which is often built in to the product. Always check that the fitting is dimmable. Many are not. Some will dim but will need special wiring in place to do so. Always check before ordering. Don’t kid yourself that dimming doesn’t matter and you can live with it. Dimming is one of the most important elements of lighting design.

Pay for Quality

There’s a saying ‘buy cheap, pay twice’ and I’ve seen several examples of this. Lighting products have become more and more technical over the years. Be sure that, when you order several dozen LED downlights for your new build, you won’t need to replace them within a few years. This will not only be irritating but costly as you’ll need to buy the replacements and bring the electrician in to change the fittings.

Always Check Building Regulations

Rules and regulations for lighting efficiency and safety can change so make sure you see the most up to date building regs. Check when planning and double check before ordering the products.

Order in Time

Manufacturers may indicate a certain lead time on their specifications or websites but this is often ‘best case scenario’. There’s nothing worse than the work being held up because a few elements of the design haven’t arrived. Be particularly wary when ordering lighting from the continent during the summer months – some factories close in July and some in August. And then there’s the backlog in September…

Double Check Stair Positions

I’ve designed lighting for countless newbuilds and, in my experience, the key areas where clients have problems are with their windows, doors and staircases. Often the stairs will need to be tweaked on site and this can impact the positions of stair lighting. Double check the positioning of the treads before marking up the step lights.

Lighting Controls

I’ve had clients who have dismissed any form of smart lighting control systems because they thought it was too complicated. While I do agree that it’s not necessary throughout an entire building, it can be invaluable in open plan living areas. It’s not complicated for the user – it makes life easier. There are some simple solutions available that won’t break the bank and you’ll be grateful you installed it once you’re living in the property.

Plan Early

Lighting is becoming more integrated into the fabric of buildings, and this is particularly true of linear LED lighting. This means that the build may need to incorporate recesses to house hidden lighting profiles, or shadow gaps to weave in smart slots of light. This can have a big impact on the ultimate design of the property so it’s a shame to miss this trick by designing the lighting at the last minute.

Plan for Feature Lights

Some pendant lights are large and heavy. Always ensure you create a solid fixing that will take the weight of the chandelier or lantern – you definitely don’t want it to come crashing down on your heads and it’s been known to happen.


Make sure your dimmers are compatible with your light fitting or bulbs. You can’t always assume that you can replace a light fitting and use the original dimmer. Always check before placing an order.

Hidden Lighting

There are all sorts of ways you can weave in lighting without it actually being in the form of a light fitting – such as lighting in shelving, reflecting lighting back off a painting or recessed lighting profiles. Allow for lighting in media units and niches. Not only do they help give depth and interest but this technique can work well for balancing natural light when it’s coming in from only one direction.

Night Lighting

It’s a luxury to be able to find your way to the bathroom at night without disturbing your partner, or waking you up too much. Allow for low level lighting in the bathroom and a very small marker light to guide you to the bathroom door. A tiny red LED can work well as this doesn’t disturb sleep.


This is only a selection of pitfalls you need to watch out for but I hope it helps!



How I Work with Interior Designers

How I Work with Interior Designers


How I Work with Interior Designers: A Summary

Often, when working on larger projects, interior designers will be brought in, and I’ll be asked by my clients to liaise with them to come up with the best design all round.

This is often easier for clients who prefer not to be bothered with the nitty gritty of design but just want to finish with a beautiful home without much hassle. In other words: “You get on with it; come up with the best design and present the final design at the end.”

I enjoy working with interior designers as it can lead to a more focused approach from the outset and makes for a smoother lighting design process for several reasons.

Design Vision

Firstly, the design vision of the project is more tapered, even when I’m brought in during the initial conceptual design phase. It’s at this point that it’s good to have, what I call an ‘umbrella meeting’.  As most of my work is remote, this can be done via a phone call or Zoom to talk through some initial ideas that spring to mind after seeing the concept design.

For example, take a curved wall leading into an open plan living space.

Me: How about incorporating some curved recessed lighting tucked up within the ceiling, washing down to accentuate the curve of this wall.

Interior Designer: That sounds good and may work even better if we create some texture, perhaps in the form of the wall covering. Will give this some thought.

Or a blank wall at the end of a corridor.

Me: It would be good to focus some light on a painting, here, or perhaps incorporate a niche to highlight some sort of sculpture.

Interior Designer: That’s a point. My client has a collection of antique vases. We could create some recessed shelving here and light those, creating both a feature and helping the flow of the space.

And so it goes on. The interior designer aften has more of an idea of the design aspirations of the client and should also know about placement of furniture and any other feature pieces that are going to be incorporated into the scheme.

Feature Lighting

As an architectural lighting designer, my focus is the built-in lighting. However, in many cases the client hasn’t employed the services of an interior designer so it’s up to me to make the initial suggestions for feature lights. After all, I did originally train and work as an interior designer, and I appreciate that getting the feature lighting right helps to pull the whole scheme together.

When interior designers are involved, they may well have a vision of the feature lights required. Alternatively, they may want me to put a selection together so they can ultimately hone down the choice. It’s important that I know, at this stage, the scope of work so that I can gauge how much time will be expended to enable me to quote for this element of my service.

How You Can Help A Smooth Design Process

Plan the design as early as possible to ensure no last-minute compromises need to be made.

Create a system so that all parties are copied in on decisions made, no matter how trivial, as decisions can affect other elements of the design.

Let everyone know what stage the design is at and advise of any hold-ups in the building schedule or delivery of products.

Ideally employ the services of a good project manager.

For further information on combining design disciplines check out my previous article on Lighting Design and Interior Design Integration

Claire-PendarvesClaire Pendarves originally qualified as an interior designer and is now a lighting consultant with over 20 years’ experience

Meet the Designer

Lighting Design and Interior Design: Integration

Lighting Design and Interior Design: Integration


Lighting design and interior design are not the same thing and require different skills. Complementary yes, but different.

People often think that lighting design is just a part of interior design but it’s not. I came to this realisation many years ago when I was working as an interior designer and witnessed the transformative effects created by a lighting designer brought in on the project. I never looked back.

So let’s look at the contributors to a building design project

Lighting Design and Architects

Architects can design fabulous structures and will aim to incorporate natural light to full advantage, but many architects will confess that lighting is not their forte. Even those who appreciate the importance of good lighting design are aware that their talents lie in the building structure itself and the effects on the inhabitants and surrounds.

Lighting Design and Interior Designers

Although lighting is incorporated in interior design training, the focus of most interior designers will be spacial design, furniture, fabrics and finishes. There’s a huge range of products and details that they need to keep abreast of, and unless lighting design is one of their big loves, the chances are they won’t know of the latest products and techniques.

See how I co-ordinate my design with interior designers here: https://www.luxplan.co.uk/how-i-work-with-interior-designers/

Lighting Design and Electricians

Electricians will concentrate on the execution of the work and, when asked to map out a lighting scheme will often calculate the lumens needed and go from there. This will work in an office perhaps, but just focusing on the light output can leave spaces looking flat and lifeless. The last thing you want in a living room is a grid of downlights. This is not meant to be disparaging to electricians as they can be brilliant at what they do. But then that’s the point.

Which leads to the question…

Is Lighting Design a Science or an Art?

I believe it’s really a mixture of the two. To me, most of all, light is emotion. Good lighting design creates good feelings – an uplift as you walk through the door. A sense of comfort and calm. It shouldn’t shout out to a new visitor. In fact, beautiful lighting design should hardly be noticed to the untrained eye. It should just give the impression of a lovely space, even if your guest can’t quite put their finger on it.

Along with the emotion of the design comes knowledge of the products. Lighting is changing all the time. During the years that I’ve been a lighting designer, we’ve moved from incandescent lighting to LEDs with a dodgy time in between of having to specify fluorescent lighting as the primary energy efficient solution. Integrated linear lighting has become very popular and allows for reflected light and technology is coming on leaps and bounds.


In large prestigious projects each design discipline will dovetail with others on the project. This frees them up to do what they do best.

First comes the architectural design, then the initial interior design concept phase. At this point, the lighting designer is brought in and there should be a flow of communication all round.

The main point to remember is that beautiful lighting design will enhance the entire look of the interior design. Colours will be emphasised; focal points will be hightlighted, and the flow of the interior will be woven in by accenting different areas with lighting. Similarly, a well thought out and uniquely designed interior will make designing the lighting a joy. Everyone can enhance each other’s work so it’s win-win all round.

Especially for the client.

Claire-PendarvesClaire Pendarves originally qualified as an interior designer and is now a lighting consultant with over 20 years’ experience

Meet the Designer



Architectural Lighting Design Process

Architectural Lighting Design Process


When you’re taking on the services of any architectural lighting designer, you’ll want to know details of the lighting design process. And how does our remote lighting design service works? Here I’ll take you through the steps.

Local or remote lighting design process

When I start a lighting design project, in effect I will generally follow the same process whether the building is local or remote. Usually the lighting design will be done at the planning stage and there have been times when I’ve planned the lighting even before the previous property on the site has been knocked down to make way for the new build.

Benefits of planning architectural lighting design early

Firstly, you will want to have an idea of costs for the electrical work and architectural light fittings before starting the build or renovation work. Your electrical contractor won’t be able to quote correctly until he has the information to hand. If you have this planned early the process will be much smoother.

The process of talking through the lighting design means that you need to think through how you’re going to use the space which is a useful exercise in itself. Focusing your mind on aspects of the interior may throw light on other areas of the architectural planning that you need to address before the work starts.

My architectural lighting design process

  1. Initially it’s good to have a chat on the phone to get an idea of the extent of lighting advice and design you require, and for you to decide if you’re happy to take it further. I offer a flexible service so if you only want to have part of your property designed that’s fine; I’ll quote accordingly.
  2. After our discussion and, on sight of the plans, I’ll quote for the design work and then you can decide if you would like to proceed.
  3. If you wish to take things further, a time will be set for the design work to be carried out with a prior meeting arranged via Zoom or phone to go through your vision for the property, lifestyle etc and any elements of the build that might vary from the plan. An invoice for 50% of the design fee will be sent at this point.
  4. Turnaround is usually 7-10 days provided I have all the information to hand.
  5. The full design, including marked up plans with full details of circuits, schedule of proposed lighting and lighting design specification will be sent to you together with the balance invoice for the design work.
  6. At this stage it’s good to mull over the design for a few days and then decide on any changes you would like to make. Any alterations that are made within two weeks of submission are included in the design fee.

Please note: If you would like some general advice on how to enhance the lighting in your existing property, I offer a lighting consultancy service where I will visit to go through your options and give you details of products that could suit the project.

Fee: £150 for 1.5 hour consultation. No mileage is charged if within 20 miles of Truro. Travel charges will be advised for visits beyond this perimeter.


Try and collect as much information on the property as possible, especially for renovations where certain elements of the building aren’t apparent on the plans.

It’s worth looking through Houzz and Pinterest to get ideas that will inspire your design process. If I know the broad style you are aiming to achieve it will help me to align the lighting design with your vision.

NB It’s easy to get carried away and like and save a wide range of design styles. They can all look so gorgeous! Try and focus on this particular project and what you envision for now.

If you’re smitten by one particular light fitting, then please let me know. The chances are I will recognise it or, if not, will know of a similar luminaire.

Even in the early stages it’s good to know the kitchen and bathroom layouts. These may not have been completely designed at this stage, but it helps me to know the layout and style predicted. I certainly need to have these before I start the lighting design.

If you’re bringing furniture that you already own into the property, it helps me to know where these special pieces are going to go before I start the design. This may well affect the positioning of the lighting.

Also, if you have artwork, or envisage collecting some pieces, it’s good to indicate where these will go. For example, lighting can be incorporated into joinery or reflected off walls of paintings. The more I know, the more streamlined the effect will be.

Did you know?

  • Colour Temperature and Colour Rendering will have an enormous effect on how your fabrics, wall and floor finishes will look. Get it wrong and the effect can be flat and dull.
  • Having lights too bright in the evening can impact the quality of your sleep. That’s why factoring in low mood and navigational lighting is so beneficial.
  • Lighting doesn’t need to be expensive. A single, narrow-beam downlight placed in the right place can have dramatic effects. The devil is in the detail.

To discuss my architectural lighting design process why not call me to chat further on 07796691435


Claire Pendarves is a lighting designer with over 20 years’ experience

Luxplan offers an online lighting design service ranging from one hour zoom consultancy – ‘Ask me Anything’ to full lighting design and specification. I design and spec; you buy independently

Meet the lighting designer

LED Downlights and Spotlights: Did You Know?

LED Downlights and Spotlights: Did You Know?



Did you know this about LED Spotlights and Downlights?

Some LED downlights can have a sharp edge to the beam of light which means, if you don’t overlap the spread, the result won’t be smooth. By choosing ‘soft edge’ LED downlights you’ll avoid this jarring effect.

LED Colour Temperature

You need to choose the Colour Temperature of the light emitted. Some manufacturers will class Warm White as 3000K but this is on the cool side. Although they can work well in bathrooms and kitchens, it’s better to go for 2700K in living areas.

The light given out from the luminaire or lamp is also given a CRI index which indicates how true colours are under their light. For example, from 1 which is monochrome, going up to 100 which is sunlight. Fabrics, paint colours, food and even your face will look much better the closer to 100 you go.

Dimming LEDs

How the downlights dim will be affected by a) the driver if they are dedicated downlights and b) the lamp used if they take retrofit bulbs. And then there’s the dimmer module itself. They need to be compatible to ensure smooth, silent dimming.

You can now select LEDs that will ‘dim to warm’ which will not only enhance your experience in the evenings but could also benefit your sleep. (See my article on How Lighting Affects Sleep).

Tips when using LED Downlights

Try and avoid glare from downlights. This is best achieved by ensuring that the light source is set up from the surface. A dark baffle will absorb the glare even more. A golden baffle will make the light warmer.

Don’t place downlights in grids when designing home lighting. This should be left to offices and commercial situations where a blanket level of light is required. In homes the downlights should only be placed where they are needed for the greatest effect.

If you select downlights that don’t blend into the ceiling your eye will automatically go upwards. You don’t want people to notice the finish of your downlights so try and avoid contrasting colour trims to your ceiling.

Even though some downlights can angle well, sometimes you’ll need a wider spread of light to feature a painting, for example. In this case surface mounted spotlights can work better. Again, go for a finish that will blend in with your ceiling.

Choosing the right beam angles of light emitted from the downlights will have an influence on the overall illumination. Wide beams work well for overall illumination whereas narrow beams will punch more lights down onto a kitchen island, for example.

Downlights will need to be fire rated where there’s living accommodation above (if the fire barrier has been perforated). There are fittings out these days that are fire rated without the fire canister and even LED GU10 lamps that are fire rated in their own right.

Downlights come in various sizes and there are some punchy little LEDs on the market that are excellent for including in an atmospheric circuit, for example washing down in front of a fridge in the kitchen or opening up dark areas along a corridor. You don’t always need a large full powered downlight, even dimmed. These micro downlights give a wider band of effects available.

Lighting technology seems to progress in leaps and bounds so it’s always good to keep up with what’s on the market. We do!

Battery Powered Lamps for Winter Blackouts

Battery Powered Lamps for Winter Blackouts


Just because we have the doom-and-gloom warnings of winter blackouts in the UK doesn’t mean we have to skimp on design or comfort. Here are some recommendations for battery powered lamps that will serve you well during this coming winter and also into balmy summer nights. They’re perfect for entertaining as well, if you want to tweak the mood and illumination.

Please note I haven’t put the links to suppliers here as they are easily found on Google and prices will vary from each supplier, and may also increase at different times.

Battery Powered Lamps for Winter Blackouts (Exterior)

Buying an exterior quality battery powered lamp is probably a much better investment as you’ll use it more often. They’re so useful when you’re entertaining in the summer, and you don’t have to worry if it stays outside in the rain. Having said that, I wouldn’t be inclined to leave any of these outside long term as you never know how they’ll stand up to the elements, long term.

Here are a selection of Exterior battery power lamps:

La Donna by Lucide


Easy to carry lamp with a strap at the top. Not very large but castes a good

  • IP rating:  54
  • Light Temperature: 2700K
  • Lumens:  263
  • Dimmable?  Yes
  • Output time:  6.5 hours at full brightness
  • Approximate price £120

Obello LED Portable Table Lamp by Gubi


Designed in the 1970s by Bill Curry this is a design classic. Surprisingly it is IP rated for exterior use but the fact that it’s made of mouth blown glass means that it doesn’t lend itself to a great deal of carrying to and fro.

  • IP rating:  IP44
  • Light Temperature: 2700K
  • Lumens:  250
  • Dimmable?  Yes
  • Output time:  Up to 40 hours
  • Approximate price £200

Hipatia LED Portable Table Lamp by Arturo Alvarez


Arturo Alvarez has a wonderful way of creating ethereal lighting with his own unique method of using coated flexible steel structures. This lamp is small but beautiful

  • IP rating:  64
  • Light Temperature: 3000K
  • Lumens:  247
  • Dimmable?  Yes
  • Output time:  6 hours
  • Approximate price £250

Lucca SC51 LED Portable Lamp by &Tradition


A stylish little portable lamp designed by Space Copenhagen, apparently inspired by the warmth of the Tuscan city’s lights.

  • IP rating:  IP44
  • Light Temperature: 2700K
  • Lumens:  143
  • Dimmable?  Yes
  • Output time:  Up to 12 hours
  • Approximate price £123

Sponge to Go Rechargeable LED Table Lamp by Nordlux


This lamp is easy to carry and seems very resilient to rain. A good price too.

  • IP rating:  65
  • Light Temperature: 2700K
  • Lumens:  300
  • Dimmable?  Yes
  • Output time:  Up to 16 hours
  • Approximate price £54

Battery Powered Portable Lamps (Interior)

Although these are not so useful for all year-round use, these battery charged portable  lamps can still be taken outside although they wouldn’t stand up well to damp or wet, so beware.

Follow Me by Marset


This cute little lamp is easy to carry and comes in various colours

  • IP rating:  20
  • Light Temperature: 2700K
  • Lumens:  240
  • Dimmable?  Yes
  • Output time:  Up to 20 hours
  • Approximate price £149


Porta LED Portable Table Lamp by Normann Copenhagen


This little portable table lamp doesn’t give out a huge amount of light but it looks nice and doesn’t take up too much space so easy to store. However, it’s not IP rated for exteriors so only use outside when it’s dry.

  • IP rating:  20
  • Light Temperature: 2800K – 3200K
  • Lumens:  51
  • Dimmable?  Yes
  • Output time:  8 – 90 hours depending on light intensity
  • Approximate price £79


Kizu LED Portable Table Lamp by New Works


This battery powered lamp is a beautiful design with a choice of black, white or grey marble base. Again, not IP rated for exterior situations and not terribly easy to transport on a regular basis, but its beauty makes up for that.

  • IP rating:  20
  • Light Temperature: 2700K
  • Lumens:  175
  • Dimmable?  Yes
  • Output time:  10 hours
  • Approximate price £162

Mini Planet Portable LED Table Lamp by Kartell


A great little lamp for entertaining although it’s more for atmosphere than working light – and it has a designer price label. Comes in various crystal colours.

  • IP rating:  20
  • Light Temperature: 2700K
  • Lumens:  210
  • Dimmable?  Yes
  • Approximate price £212

And finally, the most indulgent designer battery powered lamp for the exterior (although you wouldn’t want to break it!)

In Vitro LED Outdoor Unplugged  by Flos  (Designed by Philippe Starck)


This looks like a lantern with a tiny LED source of light. It’s not cheap but then you’re paying for the design and the name of the designer. Approximately 30 cms height.

  • IP rating:  65
  • Light Temperature: 2700K or 3200K
  • Lumens:  200
  • Dimmable?  Yes
  • Output time:  6 hours
  • Approximate price £650