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.
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.
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.
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!
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 Hall
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.
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
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
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!
Lighting Affects Mood and Productivity according to a survey of 1000 adults carried out in the UK by LED Hut. But do we really need to have a survey tell us what we already know?
According to the survey 77% felt that lighting in their workplace can affect productivity and 32% said they would be happy to work under artificial light that was designed to aid productivity. Regardless of the survey this is already happening in many factories and offices with the colour and output of lighting changing as the day progresses with positive reports of the results.
Take a morning walk for example. Even on a cloudy day this exposure to the high lumens and blue-enriched light can help to make us feel more alert and get our body clocks into sync. This helps to suppress melatonin by stimulating a pigment called melanopsin in the retina’s non-visual photoreceptors and remarkably it has been found that even blind people’s circadian rhythm can be affected by exposure to this light.
Keeping our body clocks well-tuned is important, not only for our mood and productivity but also for our health, illustrated by studies that have shown that there are greater incidents of cancer and diabetes in night workers as well as the effects it can have on a wide range of hormones and sexual development.
In Britain during the winter months many of us can feel ‘down’, some people even more so if they suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder). This is hardly surprising when the average office worker will see little daylight during the months of December and January, spending hours in front of a computer and then, often in the evening on their laptops or cell phones or sitting in front of a television. So can ensue a vicious circle of disrupted sleep patterns which can affect not only our productivity but also our health.
Human-centric lighting may seem frighteningly ‘New Age’ but, when we are so far removed from our natural environment, just think how it could benefit us in the future? By finely tuning the lighting in our working environments to enhance our body clocks we are not only healthier, happier but more productive which, in turn makes the investment by companies more attractive. It can only be a positive move for all concerned.
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 project
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 Costs 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.
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.