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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
Coffered Ceilings Lighting

Coffered Ceilings Lighting


Coffered ceilings

Coffered ceilings look fantastic – in the right place! But there are certain factors that you should bear in mind when considering installing this type of recessed illumination in your lighting design scheme.

What are Coffered Ceilings?

Coffered ceilings are often referred to as raised ceiling panels or drop ceilings. In reality, the raised ceiling is more of an illusion as it’s the surrounding area that is lowered which gives the impression of the central ceiling panel being higher. Linear lighting is then hidden in the edges of the lowered ceiling to reflect light off the original ceiling height.

Why are they called Coffered Ceilings?

Coffered ceilings date back to the Greek and Roman times and became very popular again during the Renaissance period. They originate from cross beams being used to reinforce ceilings and the panels between the beams would often be intricately decorated. These ranged enormously, from flat to curved; from many panels to only one main one. Recently coffered ceilings have become popular again and are often used in a simple form to house linear lighting to add reflected light to a space. Often they are known as Drop Ceilings and, in their simplest form, this is probably the best term for them.


What’s the benefit of a coffered ceiling?

It’s a clever use of hidden linear lighting and creates a panel of reflected light which, when linked to a dimming circuit, can either be bright and energising or soft and moody. The result will also be affected by the paint colours of the room, and layers of the ceiling.

Coffered Ceiling Planning Tips

The Room Needs to be a Good Size

Coffered ceilings can look impressive and add another dimension to large rooms but be careful to work out the proportions before going ahead.

The very nature of installing a coffered ceiling means that visually, you’re taking a chunk out of the room in order to create the lowered border around the edges. That means that what you’re left with – the area you’re throwing the light up onto – needs to be a good size to make it worth it.

As coffered ceilings are popular at the moment, there’s a tendency to build them in without really considering if they’re suited to the position. I’ve seen enthusiastic designers incorporate them into areas which are too tight, such as small rooms and narrow corridors where they don’t always work well. There are other ways you can mimic the effect which are more delicate and more cost-effective. More about that later.

Heat Sinks and Diffusers

These may sound boring but it’s important information to know when designing a coffered ceiling and using LED linear lighting in general.

The heat sink is basically the channel (profile) in which the LED tape sits. It’s usually made of aluminium to absorb the heat that’s emitted from the rear of the LED tape. Many people assume that LEDs are cool, but they can generate a lot of heat at the back of the fitting which will affect the longevity of the product if it’s not dissipated.

The profile is also used for slotting the diffuser into. The purpose of this is to soften the light so that it’s not so sharp and the little dots from the individual LEDs aren’t reflected onto the ceiling. It also protects the LED tape from dust.

Power Supply and Drivers

You need to consider where you are going to put the drivers so that they can be accessed in case something goes wrong. It’s not advisable to try and put the drivers in the recessed area around the panel as you could end up seeing shadow. You need the light to be seamless.

Sometimes the length of the linear LED is too long to be run off one driver, in which case you may need two, or several drivers serving different runs of the LED profile. This all needs to be planned beforehand.

Ensure you use good quality LED tape

When LED lighting is produced, as with all manufacturing, there will be several batches made at different times. The best lighting manufacturers will ensure that the light emitted is quality controlled and colour temperature is exactly the same. This is known as ‘colour binning.’ So it’s always vital to ensure that the LED comes from the same batch.

Some LED producers can be sloppy with this and you don’t want to reach the point where you’ve spent time and money installing the coffered ceiling, only to find that the lengths of LED emit slightly different colour tones of light

Consider Tuneable White LED tape

If the room is used in the day as well as evening, and if it has a fair amount of daylight coming in, it’s worth considering tuneable LED lighting. This is because the warm LED colour (say 2700K) looks good at night but can look yellow and dim when compared to sunlight outside, even on a dull day. Conversely, if you opt for a cooler temperature, it can look too cold at night.

So, the best option is to use tuneable white LED so that you can change the colour of the light to suit the time of day and mood.

If you have a media room, which doesn’t have much natural light, and you’re only using it mainly in the evenings, you can get away with one colour output, unless of course you would like to go for colour-changing LED (RGB).

Consider the Height of your Windows

It’s worth bearing in mind that, when creating a drop ceiling around the edges of the room, you won’t want to go any lower than the top of the window, so it’s best to start with using this as a guide.

Linear LED Lighting is not Economical

Take a large room, with a coffered area of say, 8 metres by 6 metres. This adds up to around 28 metres of LED profile, tape and diffuser. You also have the labour and material costs to lower the ceiling around the edges of the room which means the cost of supply and install can mount up.

Running costs are also greater than using LED downlights. For example, going by the above example of 28 metres using a high output LED at 19 watts per metre, that adds up to 532 watts expended. This isn’t a huge amount – in fact only the equivalent of five old fashioned 100 watt tungsten bulbs, but it’s just worth bearing in mind.

Is Light from a Coffered Ceiling Enough?

Although it’s a lovely design technique, you will usually need to incorporate more lighting in the room, depending on use of the room and size. In the project shown above I added some high output LED downlights as the room was high. These all need to be on different circuits so you can alter the atmosphere of the interior.

Things to remember:

  • Coffered ceilings work better in large rooms
  • Don’t skimp on the quality of the LEDs
  • Ensure the LED tape is housed in an aluminium heat sink
  • Use a diffuser to avoid reflected spotting on the ceiling
  • It’s advisable to enable dimming
  • Consider tuneable white LEDs or RGB
  • Be realistic about the expenditure – installing and running costs
  • The devil is in the detail

The Next Best Thing to a Coffered Ceiling

Sometimes the room doesn’t warrant the expense of a fully coffered ceiling so I’ll specify some coving to hide linear lighting. This can be run around the edges of the room, or can even help to disguise a structural beam. For a good source of lighting coving see Orac Decor

Check out our lighting design process here.


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

13 Top Tips for Planning Lighting [2022]

13 Top Tips for Planning Lighting [2022]


Some Top Tips for Planning Lighting

Planning the lighting for your new build or renovation takes time and thought. Here are some useful tips to help you create beautiful lighting schemes.

Avoid Glary downlights

Go for downlights where the light source is set back. Black baffles will absorb glare and work well in classical properties and low ceilings. White baffles are crisper in modern properties and kitchens.

Think Colour Temperature

Many standard downlights state ‘warm white’ as 3000°K which is quite cool. 2700°K is better. You can even get high spec downlights where the colour warms as they dim. Perfect for dining rooms.

Brighter is Not Always Better

Linear LEDs are great for reflected light and integration into a building. Recently they’ve become more powerful but sometimes you only want a glow. Going too bright can unbalance a room.

Don’t Light Every Inch

Beware of lighting your home like an office. Not every square foot needs to be lit. In fact, it’s by highlighting certain areas and toning the light coverage that you’ll create ambience and magic.

Avoid Dark Holes

Tiny LED inground uplights and floor washers consume miniscule amounts of electricity. Use them to light corridors and give gentle light to dark recesses. Space will flow better and be more welcoming.

Don’t Dismiss Automation

Even if you don’t want the expense of integrated lighting automation it’s worth considering if you have a large kitchen/dining/family room. This can use up to 8 circuits and you’ll be glad you used it.

Ensure Your Dimmer Switches Speak to Your Downlights

Buzzing switches and flickering downlights can be very irritating. Check with the manufacturers that the dimming protocol is compatible with your downlights. Do this before you purchase them.

Don’t Create Dead Ends

Lighting should lead you on a gentle journey through your house. Sometimes the structure of the building needs to be softened. Dead end corridor? Add a lovely wall light or illuminate a painting.

Remember that Light is Affected by Its Surroundings

Lighting does not exist on its own. It’s affected by the finish of the walls, floors, and work surfaces. If these are dark less light will be reflected. Textured walls can look lovely grazed with light.

Allow for More Light During the Day

It may seem perverse but on a gloomy day you’ll need more light than during the evenings. Allow for a circuit where you can whack up the light for rainy winter days and when you’re doing the cleaning.

Plan Furniture Positions

Planning where the furniture is going leads to a much sleeker look. It helps determine the aspect of a room and allows for the lighting to be more balanced, e.g. lighting by your seating and over the dining table.

Use Floor Sockets for Lamps

The last thing you want is trailing wires leading from the wall to lamps near your seating area. Planning for lamp sockets in the floor will help with zoning, reading and ambience in a large space.

Think Longevity

Don’t plump for downlights just because your electrician always uses them. Quality of light and longevity are key factors. Some cheaper LEDs don’t last long; replacing them is costly and irritating.


Claire Pendarves is a lighting designer with over 20 years’ experience. Meet the Designer here.

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

How to Design Energy-Efficient Lighting Plans

How to Design Energy-Efficient Lighting Plans

How to design energy efficient lighting plans

Lighting technology is changing all the time although sometimes, when googling, references to outdated products such as incandescent light bulbs will be made. No one uses these any more. Or fluorescents – not many new lights are designed to take fluorescent tubes.

Everything has now moved towards the LED light source which can be used in a variety of ways.

Accent Lighting

LEDs have brought us all sorts of ways of bringing in energy efficient accent lighting. For example, miniature LEDs placed near a wall can graze up the surface and, if punchy enough, cast soft reflected light onto the ceiling. They look lovely when placed near a stone wall or a surface with texture and can act as marker lights, with each fitting only using around one watt of electricity.

They can look great in niches and shelving. Again, hardly expending any electricity, they create interest and add to the design ‘shape’ of the room.

Linear LEDs

Linear LED profiles are also very popular nowadays and add a contemporary flavour. These can be used in recessed profiles either washing light down walls, or placed in coving to wash light upwards. This effect of indirect light is very soft, working on the principle of reflected light, although bear in mind that the amount of reflection you get will depend on the colour of the wall or ceiling surface.

Coffered ceilings are very popular in large interiors and can bring light into the centre of the room as well as being an attractive design feature. Although the linear LED used in this method of lighting is technically energy efficient, if the run is long, the number of watts can add up. Take a coffered area of 3 metres by 4 metres for example; this is a total of 14 metres of linear lighting. A high output product could take up to 20 watts per metre so this would be the equivalent of 280 watts to run. Not bad in old-fashioned terms but more than using LED downlights.


LEDs are brilliant for overall lighting but there’s a huge range out there. Wattage can be anything from around 4 – 12 watts depending on punch and the quality of the fitting.

Of course, it’s always worth factoring in the cost of the fitting – and that doesn’t mean buying cheap. Often, by cutting corners when you buy the fitting you could end up having to replace it within a couple of years – and then you’ll incur the cost of replacement and the electrician.

Tips for Buying Downlights

Downlights can be glary but if you select a fitting where the light source is set back, you’ll get a softer effect.

Remember that LEDs don’t like getting hot. That’s why the good quality ones will have a fan effect at the back of the fitting to distribute the heat. This means that they don’t like being squashed into tight spaces and certainly don’t like insulation packed around them. So, ensure you follow the fitting instructions and remember that, if you have living accommodation above, you’ll probably need to have fire rated fittings and some of these will be more bulky than standard ones.

Finally, I would normally recommend 2700°K for most areas although the cooler 3000°K can work in kitchens and bathrooms.

The cooler the light temperature, the more light output you’ll get but the difference is miniscule and the experience can be harsh under a 4000°K no matter how energy efficient it appears to be.

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

How to Design Living Room Lighting

How to Design Living Room Lighting

how to design living room lighting

The first thing you need to do when you plan lighting for a living room is ask yourself the following questions:

Which way is living room facing?

This will have an impact on how much light the room gets and at what time of the day. For example, a North facing room will have quite consistent light but will be relatively dark, whereas a room facing West may lack light in the morning but will be brighter in the evenings. This is important as, in the UK especially, we don’t just need to plan our lighting for when it’s dark. We need to think about the quality of light during the days, especially during our long winters.

How much natural light is there?

While the direction the room is facing will have an impact, so will its construction. Does it have high ceilings with big windows? Is there a rooflight? All these factors will have an effect.

Another issue is the balance of light. If the room is large with lovely natural light pouring in from large windows on only one side, how much light will be at the back of the room? This can sometimes make the light unbalanced and the back of the room will seem comparatively dark.

How will you be using the room?

If your room is only really going to be used at night, then the amount of natural light it’s receiving won’t be quite so important. For example, a room that acts more as a snug, where you can curl up in front of the fire and watch the TV won’t be needing quite such bright light, whereas a multi-functional room with, say, a desk in the corner, will need to incorporate more flexible lighting.

Where will you be placing the furniture?

If you’re not sure of the layout at this stage, run through some variables and you’ll probably find that there’s only really a couple of layouts that appeal. Where will you be placing your television, if there is one.

Will you be having shelves or even a media unit? This is a good way of integrating accent lighting.

How to Light a Living Room

Ideally a living room should have three circuits but this will depend on the size and complexity of the room.

1. Accent Lighting/Low Ambient circuit

Having a room in total darkness, when it can be viewed from other areas of the house, can be quite gloomy feeling like a black hole. Whereas incorporating a small amount of light will make the room look inviting and extend the feel of any adjacent living space. This can done using very little electricity -; in fact, with miniature LEDs you can do this using a mere 5-10 watts.

One of the fundamental elements of lighting design is layering light and this circuit can create a magical effect. For example, small inground LEDs uplighting window or door reveals, grazing up fireplaces, giving soft lighting in shelving etc.This may not be particularly picked up on by visitors, but the tranquil feel and ambience of the room will resonate.

It’s comforting to have some low level lighting on when watching television. Dark is too black and having more lights on can affect the movie watching experience.

For more information on incorporating concealed linear lighting within a living room why not visit my article on Coffered Ceiling Lighting

2. General Lighting

This will be the circuit that envelopes you with soft light and will give you light to function, without glare.

Usually this will be in the form of wall lights and lamps. Downlights can work as well, provided they aren’t directly overhead as this can be harsh. Pools of light in front of curtains, or angled onto artwork is a gentle way of bringing light into the room without glare.

Most living rooms benefit hugely from low level lighting in the form of lamps. It makes life much easier if these are plugged into a 5 amp lamp circuit.

Consider what style of lamps you will need. At least one of these should be a task light for reading or sewing. Do you have a favourite chair? If you’re going for table lamps with shades, what colour and opacity will the shades have? For example, a modern frosted glass shade is going to give far more light out into a room than say, a pleated dark fabric one.

Lamp sockets don’t need to be located on the wall – in fact, in a large room it’s really useful to have the sockets in the floor, near the seating areas, otherwise you’ll end up with trailing cords everywhere. Sometimes clients say they can’t have that because of the underfloor heating, but it’s still feasible, provided it’s planned in the early stages.

3. Overhead Lighting

Many people ask how to light a living room with no overhead lighting’ but it’s always useful to factor in an additional circuit for this. You won’t be using it often but there will be times when you’re grateful you incorporated this additional source of light.

If the room doesn’t get much natural daylight you will often want to ramp up the lighting, such as gloomy rainy days, playing card games or some activity that needs a greater spread of task lighting.

Also, living rooms are often multi-functional, with a desk in the corner or an area to exercise before work. You’ll want a different mood then. Then of course, there’s times you’ll want to clean and hoover when a good amount of light is invaluable.

Overhead lighting can be provided by downlights if preferred, or the ceilings are too low for a feature pendant, but beware of glare. The best downlights will have the light source set back and a dark baffle will absorb the glare even more. If the room is large with a high ceiling there are some beautiful pendants which can add to the aesthetics of the room, as well a providing light. Again, beware of glare.

In conclusion, when planning the lighting for a new-build or renovation I would recommend wiring for three circuits although that will depend on the size of the room and budget.

If you’re just trying to revamp a living room, you can’t go wrong with adding some lamps. Mix it up. At least one task lamp, and others that will give light out into the room. One plug-in uplight can look great!

Finally, dimmers are an invaluable way of controlling the mood. Just make sure that your lights and dimming modules are compatible so check beforehand.

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

Why is Interior Lighting Design Important?

Why is Interior Lighting Design Important?

Lighting high ceiling

Self-builders often reach the point where they’ve agreed the architectural plans and chosen the flooring, kitchen and bathrooms for their building project, then realise they need to plan the lighting. This involves some decision making. Should they get their electrician to work it out? Will their architect plan the lighting? Or should they have a stab at it themselves?

Here are some answers which may help.

Will Electricians Plan Lighting?

There’s an enormous range of electricians out there and some of them may well be more interested in the aesthetics of lighting. But many electricians, whilst good at their job, have no qualms about running grids of downlights throughout a house, oblivious to the fact that the effect will be flat and lifeless.

Clients sometimes send me through the initial M & E plans that were done in the early planning stage of the project. It was often these plans that made them determined to hire a lighting designer!

Lighting is a combination of science and art, so you can’t just work out the lumens for the square footage and bung in some lights in a grid. This might work for a standard office but doesn’t really cut it for an interior lighting design.

I originally trained as an interior designer, then went on to specialise in lighting design. Many lighting designers originate from architectural design. Very few will just focus on lumen output alone, which will often be how the electrician approaches it.

In addition, electricians probably won’t be quite so discerning when it comes to choosing downlights and accent lighting. Often, they’ll use their ‘go-to’ downlights which they supply for all their jobs. They may well get a good deal on them and won’t analyse the light quality, i.e. colour temperature of light as well as CRI (colour rendering index).

I liken it to cooking. Would you get a food technician to cook for your silver wedding anniversary party? I doubt it. You would probably prefer a chef.  

Do Architects Deal with Lighting?

If clients decide that it’s best not to get the electrician to do the lighting plan they’ll then ask, “Do architects do lighting plans?”

Short answer is yes, technically they can do lighting plans, if they are willing. But will they do the best lighting plan?

I think architects are great at incorporating natural light into a building and this will be their key consideration in terms of lighting. But architects can look at the plan in a very structured way.

Take a kitchen/living room plan, for example. I view the interior in my mind’s eye and consider the layout of the kitchen and the flow of the space. I’ll also assess that the lighting needs to be flexible. On a gloomy day you’ll want to whack up the lighting, but during an intimate dinner you’ll want the lighting subtle. Monday morning rushes for school require different lighting to sunny summer evenings when you’re filleting fish at the back of the kitchen.

This means various circuits and dimming protocols. This isn’t really an architect’s speciality.

What Does a Lighting Designer Do?

Self-builders will often ask, What does a lighting designer or lighting consultant do? Of course, it will vary from designer to designer, but first they’ll need to learn more about the following in order to do the best job.

  •                 An idea of your lifestyle and any specific requirements
  •                 Interior design style so that the overall look is cohesive
  •                 Kitchen plans, bathroom plans
  •                 Furniture layouts
  •                 Flooring
  •                 Any features to be incorporated, e.g. artwork, textured walling, joinery etc.

If you’re hiring a local lighting designer, they will often meet you first and go through your requirements. They will then submit an initial design, make the necessary alterations, and then meet with the electrician on site, preferably before first fix.

My online lighting design service works similarly, apart from the meetings with electricians.

Is my remote lighting service as comprehensive as other local lighting designers? No, but it will be more cost-effective. With Luxplan, I don’t aim to compete with top lighting designers who offer a fully comprehensive service. Ultimately, the extent of the service is reflected in the fees.

To find our more about my service please visit Architectural Lighting Design Process

Why Do I Need a Lighting Designer?

Another question is ‘can’t my interior designer do my lighting design? Why do I need a lighting designer?’

Interior designers specialise in spacial design, finishes, fabrics, wallcoverings and bringing in mood and texture to a project; it’s rare that they know that much about lighting design.

I originally trained as an interior designer and loved my work, but it was when I was working on a project on the banks of Lake Geneva that a renowned lighting designer was brought in. This was going back quite a few years, when residential lighting designers weren’t such a thing, but it certainly opened my eyes. That changed my career. To me, there is nothing so magical as being in an ambience bathed in soft light – where you feel calm, and where areas are zoned, just by the use of clever lighting.

Think of the beautiful spaces you’ve been in, where you’ve felt good. Was it just the décor? Think back. I bet the lighting played a large part.

What is Included in a Lighting Plan?

Lighting plans will show the position of the lights linked to a key so you can see what the symbols mean.

The circuits and light fittings will be marked on the plan and listed on the specification. This should make it easy for the electrician to look at the plan and connect it to the specification with any additional notes giving further information.

In essence, the lighting plan can look rather boring, but a whole lot of thinking will be behind it. The positioning of each light will have been carefully thought out, so if any changes are made to the layout of the interior, the positions will need to be re-jigged.

Is a Lighting Designer Worth It?

Building or renovating a house involves a certain expense, but we can appreciate the rewards for many years to come. There’s nothing worse than scrimping on certain elements in the build and living to regret the compromises that have been made along the way.

It’s always worth spending money on good quality flooring, heating, bathrooms and kitchens. Self-builders will often use bathroom designers and kitchen designers. Why not use a lighting designer?

Of course, it will depend on who you use. Some lighting suppliers will say they carry out the lighting design but often it’s just a tagged-on service and their primary aim is to sell the products. Always worth checking their terms of service, and who is actually doing the design.

Other lighting designers offer an unbiased lighting design service where the client can buy their own lighting. This is how I work, although as my service is primarily remote, I don’t do so much hand holding as some of the larger or more local lighting designers. The amount of detail and contact, of course, would be reflected in the fees.

Ultimately, I believe a lighting designer is always worth it, but the cost would need to be balanced in keeping with the value of the property. Having said that, if the budget is running tight, it’s always worth getting the architectural lighting in place first. Feature lighting can always be added later.

In summary, I would say that getting a good lighting design plan in place is vital, by whatever means you achieve it.

But then, of course, I would be biased!



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.




Bath Lighting Trip

Bath Lighting Trip

Lighting in Bath
Jim Lawrence Lighting Shop in Bath

As I’m a lighting consultant in South West England, it’s important that I keep in touch with the latest lighting trends which means travelling to see the physical light products myself. I make sure I attend lighting shows and design exhibitions but, over the last couple of years, these have been sparce. A trip to London takes time and I’m finding that many larger stores are devoting less space to their lighting displays which is frustrating.

So recently, I decided to combine business with pleasure and head to Bath to visit the lighting shops and enjoy the ambience. In fact, I’m so enthralled with lighting, that it’s always a pleasure to seek out exciting new feature lights and witness how the light falls from each fitting.


Bath, in southwest England, is one of my favourite cities, and the beautifully proportioned buildings, in their soft stone is a balm for the soul. I used to visit Bath for weekends when I was a designer in London, but it’s just as easy to travel there from Cornwall. A day is manageable; a weekend is preferable, just to have a more relaxed time enjoying the ambience and experiencing food from some of the fabulous restaurants.

Jim Lawrence

My first port of call was Jim Lawrence who have recently opened an expansive shop in Walcot Street.

I often specify Jim Lawrence for lighting design projects. Their prices are good, and their light fittings sit particularly well in classical interiors. They may not have the wow of such companies as Vaughan and Portaromana, but their quality is excellent and they also have the added benefit or producing door furniture and other ironmongery so that the whole look of your project can be cohesive.  

The shop is very well set out with an enormous range of light fittings without feeling overwhelming. That’s quite an art in itself. Equally, the staff were friendly and attentive without being fawning.

Although I live and breathe lighting it was still really useful to view the lights in reality. I’m currently planning the lighting for a beautiful regency house where the kitchen has a low ceiling, and seeing the lights I was proposing helped me to assess the size more accurately. In the end I chose a mix of the Fulbourn and Ava pendant lights to hang over a long kitchen island. It was very timely, as Jim Lawrence had just added a copper finish to these lights which was perfect, and the clients have now gone ahead with ordering them.  

I would recommend allowing a good amount of time in the shop and if you need to replenish some lampshades, or choose new ones, I would recommend checking these out as well. There’s nothing like actually seeing the size of lampshades to gauge how they will fit with the light fittings or lamps. They also do fabrics and curtain poles, although I forgot to pay them much attention.

The Fine Cheese Company

The Fine Cheese Company, Bath

Not exactly a lighting shop but selecting lighting can be exhausting and one needs a break!

As I had travelled up to Bath with my husband, we decided to treat ourselves to lunch in the small restaurant of this exquisite cheese shop. We chose a platter of cheese and one of delicious charcuterie which came with all the trimmings. The plates were so stylishly and generously laid out that I was fearful we had ordered two double portions. But no, our waiter assured us that they didn’t skimp on quantities and wanted us to enjoy.

Replenished, I decided to visit the next lighting venue.

Felix Lighting Specialists      

I’ve ordered light fittings from this company in the past and I love the combination of renovated original pieces and replicas of the same. Their feature lights are unusual and stylish and many of them incorporate holophane and prismatic glass which I particularly like. This type of glass gives out a soft lighting effect and sits really well in classical interiors when I’m working on renovations.

Felix Lighting Specialists are based in Bartlet Street and I have to confess that I was expecting more of a showroom. They weren’t technically open but there seemed to be an awful lot of people squashed in the interior between the cardboard boxes. It was a Friday so maybe not a good day to visit. Perhaps the boxes were about to be despatched. I chatted to one of the men who worked there and asked some technical questions about adapting a particular fitting. They are incredibly busy, and it seems that since the hospitality trade has cottoned on to them, they barely have time to draw breath.

It’s really worth looking at their website and, if you plan to view a particular light, I would telephone them beforehand to check that you can actually see it. Also, another piece of advice is, if you order a pendant light make sure you specify a ceiling fitting and chain, or flex, as there’s nothing worse than reaching the moment of fitting the light without all the elements.

Holloways of Ludlow

Holloways of Ludlow, Bath

Next stop was Holloways of Ludlow in Milsom Street where they have an amazing and huge showroom which only opened in April 2021.

Here was a feast for the eyes in contemporary design – not only of lighting but also wonderful furniture, including pieces from one of my favourite Danish companies, Carl Hanson and Son. Useful as well to see the Nelson bubble lamps on display as sometimes it’s hard to gauge the size of such pieces.

The range of lighting on display was spectacular and their piece de resistance was the Bocci 28 piece installation that ran down the stairwell. It’s very hard to see pieces like this in their glory unless you go to a hospitality venue such as a hotel or restaurant, and even then it’s hard knowing where they’re situated. There were some other beautifully extravagant pieces as well!

There was a lovely relaxed, expansive feeling about the shop and the people working there were very knowledgeable and friendly. Definitely worth a visit.

Enlighten of Bath

Enlighten of Bath is smaller and has the appearance of being slightly crammed, which is why you will probably need some assistance to find what you’re looking for. At first sight, it seems more for traditional tastes, although the owner, interior designer Anne Fisher, can help you select more contemporary lighting if you prefer.

Graham and Green

I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon Graham and Green in Walcot Street. They hadn’t been on my lighting plan! I will often recommend feature lighting, such as chandeliers, pendant lights or wall lights from this company, although it’s worth noting that their range is constantly changing.

If I suggest a piece from here I will usually recommend the client buys it and puts it in storage, as there’s no guarantee that it will be there in two months time.

Like many catalogue retailers, Graham and Green has progressed through online, to a physical store. It’s a good move, especially in Bath. People really enjoy seeing things in the flesh and, I imagine with so many people being in relaxed shopping mood in Bath, the spontaneous sales must make it a very profitable shop.

The Aurelius pendant light is an impressive piece although Graham and Green’s prices have crept up a bit.


Oka has a retail outlet on Milsom Street although I didn’t have time to go in and have a look at the lighting. I know their range, which is primarily classical, and I’ve visited their store in Broadway, Gloucestershire which is a wonderful selection of individually furnished rooms all set up in an impressive Georgian house

I think, in the lighting field, Oka’s main strength is their range of lamps. They really do some fabulous table lamps – especially large ones which are well priced. I particularly like their Minerva lamp – a beautiful shape and large and impressive.

At the end of my lighting day, I couldn’t resist nipping back to The Fine Cheese Company to select some cheeses to take back for the weekend. A bit of an indulgence but I felt I deserved it after the long day.


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

New Colourful Table Lamps

New Colourful Table Lamps

November saw the launch of the Plato lamp designed by Susie Atkinson for Studio Atkinson. Shown here in green but available in seven colours: Flamingo Pink, Oxblood, Seafoam Blue, Flint Grey, Sunflower Yellow, Fern Green and Ivory. A stylish way of bringing in a pop of colour into an interior. Available in large or small and a choice of coolie or drum lampshades. Definitely worth checking out. www.susieatkinson.com

Bespoke Lighting – Don’t Shy Away

Bespoke Lighting – Don’t Shy Away

Bespoke Lighting Could be Just What you Need

Bespoke lighting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the website for their amazingly individuality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Claire Pendarves 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

How to Light Bathrooms and Wet Rooms

How to Light Bathrooms and Wet Rooms


Lighting Tips

Bathrooms and wetrooms are getting more luxurious by the day and constitute a large proportion of the spend in contemporary new builds and renovations


Planning your bathroom and wet room lighting will reap benefits if carried out in advance of your new-build. This one small area has to change from being a functional zone on a gloomy winter’s morning, when the light needs to be crisp and sharp, to relaxing haven with a pre-party drink in the bath and all the scenarios in between. This can be created through a combination of layering the light, allowing for enough lighting circuits and the flexibility of dimming.  Whilst shower rooms and wet rooms tend to need only one or two circuits more circuits and dimming options will be required to optimise the mood when there is a bath in the room.


Downlights placed close to the wall will give a softer effect by creating reflected light which is gentler on the eye, however, if using dark coloured wall tiles or paint allow for a greater number of downlights as less light will bounce back into the room.  Try and avoid a grid layout which tends to be flat and give thought to the style of downlight used – a dark baffle with the light source set back will create less glare, as will a fitting with frosted glass.

Wall Lights

These add the benefit of lowering the light which gives a better ambience; I tend to use wall lights either side of mirrors over basins – much better for applying make up or shaving – or even coming out of mirrors as this can enhance the space-expanding elements of mirroring.   There are a vast range of bathroom wall lights on the market and don’t just look at dedicated bathroom lighting – exterior lighting can work brilliantly in bathrooms and can give a more individual feel.

Ambient LED Lighting

This is the fun part! The inground LEDs washing up walls, the low level floor washers and don’t overlook alcoves which, when lit can create an additional dimension.  At the same time planning is crucial as this form of lighting can sometimes highlight any irregularities in the walls or even an unbalanced layout.  Sometimes, when planning lighting with clients, it can flag up an unbalanced feel to the room and if done in the early stages the layout can be addressed.


The bathroom lighting has to be easy to manage and PIRs (movement sensors) can be very useful when linked to one of the circuits; it is easier to set this on the ‘ambient’ circuit which can then double up as soft lighting for night time visits. Dimmers are vital for bathrooms but not so important for wet rooms and shower rooms as they are not generally used for relaxing, however, the PIR circuit is again useful for night time visits and I don’t usually dim this particular circuit.


We can all get rather muddled with our zones but in general it is better to err on the side of caution and largely dismiss any of the plans that show areas where you can use standard light fittings. In reality it probably isn’t going to happen!  The electrician is going to have to sign off the work and he may be reluctant to sign off a bathroom with an IP20 fitting even with a high ceiling so although technically you may be well away from any source of water he would need to be very amenable to agree to this

Generally I would opt for IP44 as the mildest light fitting and a minimum of IP65 in shower enclosures. In theory these can be mains voltage as long as they’re fitted with a 30 mA RCD (ie so that the electrical supply cuts out if there is any water/electricity mix present) – in reality, again, the electrician may insist that these are low voltage to be on the safe side. IP65 downlights in a standard height ceiling above the shower would be fine but if you were to specify exterior surface mounted spots in shower areas where there is a sloped ceiling it would be wise to run it by the electrician beforehand.  It is also worth noting that the low voltage fitting should have a remote transformer as an integral one would be just as vulnerable as a mains fitting.

Good Tips

Always verify the fittings to be purchased with the electrician prior to placing the order

Work out where you’re going to put the driver or transformer during the early stages of the build – ensure that access to this is relatively easy, eg a cupboard or in the attic.

For further lighting tips why not visit How to Light a Hallway


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

Lighting Wedding Gifts

Lighting Wedding Gifts

Now that things are starting to open up, delayed weddings are now going ahead. These days the ‘wedding list’ is on the wane as so many couples live together before tying the knot. They already have the pots, pans and plates so, as a guest, selecting a gift can be quite tricky.

Don’t they say that you should always give the gift that you, yourself would like? That’s easy for me. As I’m so absorbed by lighting I usually give something connected to light in some way. From reading lamp to candles, candelabra to tea lanterns. I can’t believe that people can be immune to the magic of light. So that’s the gift I try to impart – some magic. Here are some of my favourites:

Amy Cooper Ceramics


Amy Cooper produces beautiful porcelain atmospheric lights which make wonderful gifts. When I had a showroom many years ago, I used to sell masses of the urchin lamps throughout the year – especially as we were based in Cornwall and they have a very maritime feel.

Amy has increased her range enormously now and makes beautiful tubular table lamps as well as pretty little candle holders. I’ve given many of her lights as special gifts. Brilliant for wedding presents but also a gift to yourself!

Cream Cornwall

I could easily buy up half the Cream Cornwall shop. However, I’ll try and keep focused on the lighting aspect.

Cream Cornwall do beautiful lampshades suitable for lamps as well as pendant fittings. Do check the orientation of the design prior to purchasing. You can specify which type you would like and they will make to order.

Many of their designs have maritime theme but not all of them. They also do a simple, stylish range of table lamps as well as a lovely solid wooden floor lamp which looks great with one of the larger lampshades,

Hannah Nunn

Hannah makes beautiful laser cut parchment lights reflecting the delicate beauty of nature. She used to have a lovely shop called Radiance in Hebden Bridge which sold her fabulous lighting as well as other illuminating pieces by British artists and makers. Unfortunately the shop closed in 2016 but she still sells her products online and has now branched out into designing fabrics and wallpapers.

I love the tubular table and floor lamps that will soften a dark corner in any room.

For an economical present why not give a candle cover or two? I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t love one.

Lush Designs

I really love this company by design duo Marie Rodgers and Maria Livings. They create really quirky and original designs and I used to sell mounds of their beautiful lampshades when I had my showroom. In fact, the lighting section is only one small part of Lush Designs so there’s a multitude of gifts you could choose from.

Make sure you state whether the shade you select is for a lamp or a pendant as, due to the design, you need to ensure you get it right.

Luna Lighting

Luna Lighting make beautiful porcelain globe lights which cast magical pinpricks of light around. Place them close to a wall to get the full benefit. They look wonderful any time of the year.

Fabulous in a cluster on the floor of a hallway, but also work beautifully as a single light.

Also a wonderful range of pretty tealight holders for little gifts. Really lovely.

Love British Lighting

Love British Lighting

We have some Fabulous Lighting in the UK

For many years now so many of us have revered Italian, Spanish and Scandinavian lighting without paying heed to the wealth of fabulous lighting that’s designed and manufactured in the UK.

Without being jingoistic I truly believe that now is the time we should open our eyes to what’s available within our shores. There are some wonderful British designers and lighting companies who employ a huge number of artisans using British products. It’s time for us to support them and this, in turn, will do a bit towards helping our national economy.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to cover some of these companies so you will be able to see what’s available and hopefully this will encourage you to buy British

Original BTC

Beautifully British

I’m going to start my summary of British Lighting with one of my absolute favourites: Original BTC.

I’m particularly fond of Original BTC as I sold a huge quantity of their wonderful lighting when I had a showroom several years ago. In fact, I could honestly say that my lighting showroom, Illumina, was practically launched on the back of Original BTC.

I remember stumbling across their small stand at a trade fair in 2005 when I was sourcing products for my new venture. I was bowled over by their clean, unique style and I felt sure they would sell well in Cornwall so I placed a large order on the spot. At that time, I seem to recall that the majority of their sales was overseas, especially in France, but over the years they’ve gone from strength to strength with showrooms now in London, New York, Paris and Taiwan. They also export to over 85 countries

Founded in 1990 by Peter Bowles, Original BTC is a true family business with six family members being directly involved. They own six production facilities including a glass factory, ceramics factory and metal works with their headquarters and assembly factories based in Oxfordshire.

The company has also incorporated two other British brands into their empire. Beadlight and Davey Lighting (robust and stylish exterior lighting), which sit well with their interior range. Their service is excellent and they will always try to meet any specific requirements, such as extra length cord or in-line switches.

My favourite Original BTC wall light is the Hector

One of the other joys of ordering from Original BTC is that their packaging is perfect and I can’t remember ever having complained about breakages.

Original BTC has a strong presence online now as well as supplying many of the main retailers such as John Lewis and Heals.


CTO Lighting

British Contemporary Lighting

CTO Lighting produce some stunning pieces which have a balance of form that comes with exceptionally skilled design coupled with perfect craftsmanship.

Founded in 1998 by trained engineer Chris Turner and his wife Clare who originally came from a fashion background, the company has gone from strength to strength; they have even been commissioned to create bespoke pieces for The Savoy Hotel, The Dorchester and St Pancreas Renaissance Hotel to name a few.

Quality is key and they place an emphasis on using premium natural materials such as hand-finished brass, mouth-blown glass and artisan-crafted stone which gives each piece an individuality of its own.

CTO Lighting has an online shop as well as a brochure. Their showroom is in North London, details on their website.


Bert Frank

Bold and Beautiful British Lighting

Bert Frank was founded in 2013 by designer Robbie Llewellyn and factory owner Adam Yeates. Right from the beginning they’ve manufactured their products in the UK, primarily in a factory in the heart of Birmingham where they combine traditional manufacturing methods with cutting-edge technology.

I first came across them at Decorex in 2014 and was immediately smitten by their Sheer wall light (photographed here) which has the makings on a true classic. Since their launch they’ve won several awards, such as the 2016 Elle Decoration British Design Award for Lighting and the Best Product Award at the Design et al International Design Awards.

Their products are definitely high-end and they certainly have luxurious price tags, but to my mind they are way up there with the best.

They have a good website and a showroom in East London, details on their website.


Jim Lawrence

Classical Lighting Made in England

Jim Lawrence founded his business in 1994, originally as a way of supplementing the income from his Suffolk farm. He set up a forge in one of the farm buildings and started making specialist pieces for friends and neighbours.

Over the years Jim Lawrence has expanded enormously from metalwork to fabrics and soft furnishings, although the lighting now accounts for 60-70% of the company’s sales. I often direct clients to the Jim Lawrence website when they are looking for classical pieces that don’t break the bank.

The company is a true family business, still run by Jim and Sheena Lawrence and it employs up to three generations of local families as well as staff in its new showroom in Bath.

They have a really good website as well as showrooms in Suffolk and Bath.

Read more about my visit to the new Jim Lawrence Showroom in my article Bath Lighting Trip


Tom Raffield

Beautiful Lighting Made in Cornwall

Tom Raffield is one of Cornwall’s most notable designers having originally trained at Falmouth College of Arts. He now runs a 30 strong team of craftsmen in his country workshop in Cornwall, producing lighting and furniture sold in the UK and overseas.

All his products are not only made in the UK but are sustainable and environmentally friendly so tick all the boxes when it comes to sourcing with a clean conscience. They’ve recently gone one notch higher, having partnered with Ecologi to offset their employees’ carbon footprints.

Initially Tom Raffield became known, from the lighting perspective, for his signature bent wood Butterfly pendant lights, but he’s gone on to expand his range enormously. My favourite WOW pieces are the Skipper and Arame Wall Lights but I also love his new Loer pendants which are contemporary but with his own individual stamp.

Personally (especially as I live in Cornwall) I think it’s wonderful that Tom employs so many people locally as well as designing and producing fabulous natural products that add to the plethora of great products that come from Cornwall.

Purchases can be made online and there is also a new showroom in Falmouth, details on the website.

Nigel Tyas

This is a small family business based in Yorkshire created in 2000 by Nigel Tyas and his wife Elizabeth Stocker. It has now been bought by brothers Daniel and Gareth Lowe who employ a small team of metalworkers and electricians. They also use the services of a local ceramicist and a glass company based in Somerset.

When an order is placed, all the metalwork is assigned to one craftsman from start to finish. This helps to ensure quality control as well as instilling a sense of pride and accomplishment so lacking in some of the larger manufacturing companies these days.

As they are based in Sheffield, the heart of British metalworking heritage, they try to source all their materials and components locally as much as possible. All their work carries the prestigious ‘Made in Sheffield’ mark (discreetly) which also gives a stamp of provenance.

Most of the products suit older properties but I do love the Cubley wall light which is perfect for bringing a contemporary light effect into a classical interior.

Prices are realistic and personalised adaptations of designs are also possible.

Well worth checking out.


Elegant Lighting Made in Britain

Wrought Iron Lighting made in Britain

Soane doesn’t just produce beautiful sophisticated lighting. They also design and produce a wide range of timeless furniture, wallpaper and fabrics. All these are made in the UK by a plethora of craftsmen who serve as the bedrock to this thriving design company.

Founded in the late 1990s by designer Lulu Lytle who has a passion for British crafts and classical architecture, Soane now boasts showrooms in London (Pimlico Road) as well as San Francisco and Manhattan in the USA.

The use of rattan is taken to extraordinary heights giving a fresh twist to some classical pieces, both with lighting as well as chairs, sofas and tables. I love their pendant fittings and I don’t know anywhere that you would find such original and well-balanced rattan pieces. Table lamps are lovely also. Everything is individual, original and beautifully designed.

Their products have serious prices. Don’t expect to see them on the website – you need to enquire. But they are beautiful, they are high-end and there is the option for bespoke.

I absolutely love the Chinnery Wall Lantern and it is now stored in my mental Filofax.

Curiousa and Curiousa

Magical Lighting Made in Britain

I absolutely love the Alice in Wonderland title of this fabulous lighting company. As original as Lewis Carroll’s book, they take us on an enchanted journey where the only boundaries are limitations in the production process.

Curiousa and Curiousa was founded in 2010 by Esther Patterson who was first spotted by Liberty London during a ‘Designer Open Call’ that year. Liberty went on to retail some of her products which goes to prove what good taste they have.

All the pieces are designed and manufactured in C&C’s factory in a historic mill in Derbyshire and all the glass is free-blown, without the use of moulds, which means that each piece is totally unique. Every order is custom made in any combination of 21 different glass colours which vary from transparent to semi-opaque. There’s also a range of different ceiling fittings and flex colours as well as the incredibly useful option to produce certain fittings to IP45 so they can be used in bathrooms.

The pendant lights are fabulous and above you will see how stunning they can look in a stairway, but I also love their Bass Siren wall light seen here giving a really unique flavour to a bathroom.

Curiousa and Curiousa have recently moved their London showroom to a large building next to their factory in Derbyshire so that, during the current pandemic, they can adhere to social distancing rules. However, they can do online virtual visits or will visit clients where appropriate. Hopefully, things will change very soon but in the meantime some of their pieces can be seen in the Martin Moore showrooms in Notting Hill and Fulham.

I adore Curiousa and Curiousa and it’s one of the highlights of such shows as Decorex to see what beautiful products they have on display.



Stoane Lighting

Architectural Lighting Made in Scotland

Originally founded by Mike Stoane in 1995, and known formerly as Mike Stoane Lighting, this company started its life in a small lock-up in Scotland. They are now an employee-owned business based in a large workshop outside Edinburgh where a full team of product designers, engineers and technical staff all work together.

They make fabulous high-tech LED luminaires designed to last and if you’re into precision engineering then they will definitely appeal.

I’ve used them in a few projects – lighting some tricky artwork and also in a conference centre where the tiny diodes needed to be hidden within some classical panelling. Their products are excellent although they come with a price and would usually be specified for high-end commercial projects.

Stoane Lighting work closely with lighting designers and architects and are able to do special orders – a service which is invaluable to designers where colour temperature, beam angles and light quality is key. And they are made here in the British Isles. It has to be good!

You can learn more about them here


Porta Romana

Luxury Lighting made in the UK

Despite the Italian-sounding name this company is totally British and was started in a tiny London workshop by Andrew and Sara Hills in 1988.  I seem to remember hearing that they named it after their favourite place in Italy and I suppose in those days if you wanted to make design products sound classy, an Italian name would have seemed an asset.

However, all their lighting and fine furniture is made here in England, in the countryside. They employ a large number of fine artisans, many of whom start with them as apprentices and they still retain some of the original craftsmen from their early days.

Porta Romana are now renowned for their unique designs and quality which doesn’t come without a price. But their products are quirky, timeless and original with a wide range of bespoke finishes and an impeccable service. I’ve supplied lighting from Portaromana on many occasions and each time my clients have been delighted.

Some of my favourites are the Llama wall light – I put one of these in a downstairs cloakroom to give an extra ‘lift’ to a rather dull space. Also, the Trailing Blossom wall light which a client loves in his tranquil meditating space, saying it reminds him of the Tree of Life.

Many of Porta Romana’s lights can be upgraded to be suitable for bathrooms which is a boon to interior designers and lighting designers and again, these can be produced in a range of different finishes.

New designs are constantly being launched which adds a freshness to the range, and each item is given a stamp of authenticity.

Looking at the wonderful selection of furniture and lighting from Porta Roman is rather like going to a fabulous restaurant. You know each course will be sublime but it’s so tantalisingly hard to make that final choice


Boatswain Lighting

Beautiful Porcelain Lighting Made in Britain

Boatswain Lighting is the creation of Jason Boatswain, working from his studio in Wiltshire with his team of craftsmen. Boatswain creates beautiful biscuit-crisp porcelain lights which add a wonderful golden light to an interior. The effect of golden light emanating through the transluscent, porcelain is soft and understated so you can go for large pieces without them crowding the space.

Boatswain lights don’t shout. They don’t need to. They are soft, beautifully proportioned and organic in their own right.

I’ve used Boatswain in coastal properties – there’s something about the natural texture that lends itself to sand, beach, light. All my clients have been really pleased with the result.

A word of caution: don’t assemble the full lights until all workmen are out of the area. In the picture above we spent quite a while carefully hanging each of the flat porcelain slabs to the large central light, after which we stood back, had a cup of tea and admired it. Two days later my client phoned to say that the painters had come with their ladder to do some ‘touching-up’. They had written off a chunk of the lower section. Boatswain were brilliant and sent replacement segments which, of course, we paid for, but it was good to know that it could easily be restored.

Beautiful in most spaces – but not if you have rumbustious children!


J Adams and Co

Beautiful British Lighting from Birmingham

J Adams and Co ticks so many boxes. Cutting edge design manufactured in a well-established factory in Birmingham using traditional techniques.

Although this lighting design and manufacturing company was only founded in 2016 the design world has seriously taken notice. All the designs are carried out by design director Will Earl, who adds a softness and elegance to a slightly industrial look.

Their lighting is robust and unique and, although their pieces have serious price tags, these are top quality light fittings designed to last.

J Adams & Co will also produce personalised versions of their range – bespoke to a certain extent.

See above for information on Bert Frank also produce wonderful lighting in the same Birmingham factory, and are similarly unique. I love them both!

Christopher Hyde

Classical British Lighting

Christopher Hyde Lighting was founded in 1995 and produces quintessentially English lighting, perfectly suited to classical homes, although they do now design and manufacture some transitional contemporary lighting as well. They have a factory in Milton Keynes and altogether employ the skills of some 60 – 80 artisans at any one time.

One of their main strengths is the amount of customised light fittings they can produce – various metal finishes, coloured flex cables and bespoke lampshades which attracts owners of larger properties, hotels and yachts.

Christopher Hyde have an online website and a showroom in Chelsea Design Centre, London.



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

Lighting Tips to Cheer Up Winter

Lighting Tips to Cheer Up Winter


It seems that with every passing day we are tunnelling further down into the depths of winter!  If you’re like me – a lover of light and warmth – the whole season can be a bit depressing.

These tips may help to lighten the winter gloom

Candles any Time

The Scandinavians know how to cheer themselves up in the winter and the whole concept of Hygge is embraced whole-heartedly in the Northern Hemisphere.  It seems that in the UK many of us save our candles for special occasions or, at least, until the evenings. But why?  During deepest darkest winter some days can seem like perpetual dusk, so why not light a couple of candles or tea lights during the day, even when working. There is, on a primeval level, something enormously comforting about a flickering flame that makes me think we’re not so far removed from our cave dwelling ancestors

Scented Candles

Personally I find some scented candles overpowering. One sniff in a shop can’t quite display how the scent will actually be after a couple of hours’ burning at home and some can become quite nauseous. I usually burn unscented  church candles and my favourites are from the St Eval Candle Company made locally in Cornwall although they also do a very subtle festive range which I really enjoy.

Wax Crystals

If you like the effect of light reflecting on snow then you will love these wax crystals that bring a magical quality to any interior. Alexander Interiors sells bags of the crystal and the wicks separately, along with containers although you don’t necessarily need to buy these as you can set these crystals up in any container provided it’s not flammable. I use a large glass bowl and pour a good amount of crystals in and add about 5 wicks. They burn for hours and it all works out very economical as the next day you just dispose of the old wicks and clumps of melted wax, top up slightly, insert fresh wicks and start again

Free Standing Uplight

I will often incorporate integral LED uplights when I do a lighting design as it adds another dimension to the lighting but if we’re doing a quick fix a free standing uplight can work wonders. If you have a dark corner which just needs some soft light why not try something like the Marasino by Astro Lighting. This is made of paintable plaster so you can paint it to blend with the room if you prefer. The shape of it means that it can be positioned so you don’t get any glare

Soft Table Lamps

Opaque globes give out a soft light and as they have become very fashionable nowadays there’s a huge range of light fittings on the market.  A quick fix is to incorporate a globe table lamp and the Castore by Artemide has been a favourite of mine for years.  Available in various sizes from a lovely small one, that I had in my daughter’s bedroom when she was little, to the largest version that I put in my showroom Christmas window many moons ago

I’m also mad about the Rituals range by Foscarini and love the textured light that these emit. Check out their website for more details here: www.foscarini.com


I know that so many new-build houses are so well insulated these days that they don’t really need a fireplace or wood burning stove.  Personally I think it’s a pity to miss out on the sparkle of a fire even if, technically, it may not be required. A flickering flame can always lift the soul.

Check Your Existing Light Bulbs

LED lamps (bulbs) give out less light as they get older and can lose their crispness. Try putting some fresh bulbs in where required and ensure that they are a warm white – 2700K is what I generally recommend.

SAD Lamps

High lumen output lamps can be very helpful and I’ve just ordered a small portable Beurer LED Daylight SAD Light for a very reasonable price. I’ll be testing it out over the next couple of weeks and will report back when I write my next blog on how our health is affected by light.


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

Lighting Bedrooms for Children

Lighting Bedrooms for Children

children's bedrooms

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

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

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

Here are a few recommendations.

Ceiling Light

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

Wall Lights

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

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

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

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

Fibre Optic Starlight Ceiling

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

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


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!


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

How to Light a Hallway

How to Light a Hallway

Lighting Hallways

How do I light my Hallway?

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

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

Analysing the following points can help you get it right

Main Entrance 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 Pochette also by Flos

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

Artwork and Artifacts

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

Floor and Wall Surface

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

For further information on lighting hallways visit my article: Hallway Lighting Tips by a Lighting Designer

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

Why not check out another article on lighting techniques: How to Light Bathrooms and Wetrooms


Claire Pendarves originally qualified as an interior designer and is now 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

Designer Lighting Over Exposure

Designer Lighting Over Exposure

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!

Light and Mood – The Connection

Light and Mood – The Connection


How Lighting Affects Our Mood and Productivity

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.


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

New Build Lighting Costs

New Build Lighting Costs

Lighting new build by Luxplan

How much will it cost to light my new build? 

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”

Is it worth getting a professional lighting design plan?

It’s often a false economy to try and do things ourselves if we don’t have the specific knowledge and experience. Think about the plants that we’ve positioned incorrectly in our gardens, or the kitchen layout that we find irritating. If you get a professional in you’ll end up with a more cohesive and professional scheme and ultimately it can save you money. For further information check out Why is Interior Lighting Design Important? 

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.

Claire-PendarvesClaire 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


How to Choose Downlights

How to Choose Downlights


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

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

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

You can view an updated article about Downlights and spotlights: LED Downlights and Spotlights: Did You Know?

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

Designer Downlights

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

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

Dedicated LED Downlights

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

Colour Temperature and CRI

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

Low Glare

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


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


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


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

LED Lamps

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

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

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

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

Mains or Low Voltage Fittings

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

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

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

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

Avoid using downlights in vaulted ceilings – insulation will be compromised

Future proof your project – go for the best LEDs or choose standard fittings with LED GU10.

How to Light Open Plan Spaces

How to Light Open Plan Spaces


Planning your Lighting for Open Plan Living

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

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

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


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

Hamilton supply a good range of floor sockets

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

In effect, lighting an open plan space is incorporating three areas into one lighting design plan. For further information on designing the living area check out my post on How to Design Living Room Lighting

Layering Light

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

If you would like more information on incorporating the soft effect of lighting within a drop ceiling, I’ve done an article on Coffered Ceiling Lighting that may be of interest. 

Points of Interest

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

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

Planning Circuits

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

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

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


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


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

Connect with the Outside

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

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


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

How to Stop LEDs from Flickering

How to Stop LEDs from Flickering


If only life were simple! If only we could buy an LED fitting, or retro-fit LED lamp, wire it in, connect it to a dimmer and hey presto – a perfectly dimming light.  Unfortunately, as so many of you will have experienced, this is not always the case and lamentably, the answer is not always crystal clear.  So how to stop LEDs from flickering? The following explanation in layman’s terms may help you resolve any problems you may have or, even better, avoid them in the first place.

Speak the Same Language

All LEDs have electrical control gear known as Drivers – even retro-fit LED lamps have tiny drivers in the base of them. These need to speak the same language as the dimming module.  When using a simple Mains dimming switch there are two methods of dimming – one is Trailing Edge and the other is Leading Edge.  Trailing Edge tends to be better; the dimmers are slightly more expensive but they are less prone to buzz and are generally more compatible with a wider range of fittings.  The manufacturers of the LED driver or lamp should stipulate the dimming method recommended (some will say either) so then you can ensure that the correct dimmer is installed. Do check that the LED retro fit lamps are dimmable – not all of them are!

For large projects always check that the dimmers are compatible with the LED fixtures or lamps that will be used; I usually combine Philips MasterLED lamps with Varilight V-pro intelligent dimmers which currently work well together – please note the word ‘currently’ as specifications can change and  manufacturers will always state that testing should be carried out to ensure compatibility.  Forbes and Lomax combine beautifully styled fittings incorporating Varilight dimming modules but it always advisable to state that the dimmer will be used for LEDs when ordering

Don’t Overload the Circuit

A common mistake is to look at the maximum wattage on the dimmer, say 250 watts (in old money) and decide that, as the LED lamps are only 5 watts for example, you would be able to dim a multitude of fittings on that circuit. Wrong.  Ideally you should downrate by 6-10 times so in this case you would be best running  5 – 8 max fittings of 5 watts each.  It is possible to get larger load dimmers so it is best to check the number of fittings on each circuit before installation.

Don’t Underload the Circuit

Some dimmers, especially Leading Edge dimmers, need a minimum load in order to work, some as much as 40 watts before they will kick in. The more modern Trailing Edge dimmers will generally work from a lower load set point but be wary of trying to dim one or two LED fittings on one dimmer or you may need to incorporate a ‘dummy load’ to enable the dimmer to work.

Keep it Simple

Try to avoid using MR16 equivalent LEDs where possible when dimming as you then have three factors to bear in mind – the dimming module, the driver and the transformer which involves more ‘communication’ and more chances of incompatibility.  GU10 retro fit LED lamps or GLS replacement lamps are much simpler altogether.  However, on a positive note I have had success with using Philips MasterLED MR16 lamps with low voltage fittings on a Hamilton Mercury system but this was several years ago so may not be true today.  Always best to check.

Phase Adaptive Dimmers

If you don’t know whether you are going to use Leading Edge or Trailing Edge drivers then go for a Phase Adaptive dimmer; more high spec but flexible. Try Lutron for the latest in cutting edge dimming technology.  And if you’re wiring a new-build or self-build property it is worth considering a digital method of dimming such as DALI.

Favour Constant Current

Constant current LED drivers general work much better than constant voltage ones. The LED fittings for constant current drivers should be wired in series and your electrician should always check what products are specified before any wiring is done.

Dig Deeper

If you are still having problems with flickering lights and you have assessed all of the above then it may be time to check out the wiring in the property. Loose or faulty wiring or spikes and troughs in the electrical supply reaching the circuits in question could be having a knock-on effect so it is always advisable to check this out as well

How to Plan Garden Lighting for New-Build Projects

How to Plan Garden Lighting for New-Build Projects


Planning exterior lighting often comes low on the agenda of self builders’ new-build projects.

Here lighting designer Claire Pendarves gives some tips and advice on planning your garden lighting.

Plan the Layout

The more you plan the better the effect. If you’re not a keen gardener and don’t have a basic plan in your head then I would strongly advise bringing in a professional landscape architect or garden designer. So often I see the landscape design being left as an afterthought and although it’s workable, especially if the coffers are running low, it can mean that the project can seem half finished for a number of months or even years.

Less is More

Francis Bacon said “In order for the light to shine so brightly the darkness must be present” and this is so true when it comes to lighting our gardens. An over-lit garden can seem flat and dazzling whereas careful placement of exterior fixtures can make it seem quite magical. Also, I find that the lighting budget for a new-build can balloon by over-specifying on the exterior landscape lighting quite unnecessarily

Light the Outside for the Inside

When you consider the British climate we spend most of our time in our houses and sadly the evenings where we are relaxing in warm summer gardens are all too few. With so many new-build designs featuring large expanses of windows and the trend being to connect the design of the interior and exterior spaces it makes sense to consider how the garden lighting will look from the inside. Accent garden lighting placed near the house can visually extend the living space and relieve the cold appearance of black glass panes at night making occupants feel less vulnerable

Accentuate the Positive

Take a critical look at your building and planting to see what existing features you can highlight. Rough stone walls take on a magical warmth when uplit with low glare inground LEDs as can well-structured trees and shrubs. If you’re struggling to find any existing features this could help you decide on your planting; palms, silver birch and olive trees for example light well and oversized lit planters can look stylish and dramatic.

Paths and Steps

I always think of lighting as a journey and nowhere more than when lighting routes within a garden where functional lighting should dovetail with the aesthetic. Consider the approach from the parking area, unloading shopping on a winter’s evening and the trail up the garden path to the enveloping warmth of home. It is particularly important to select low glare fittings for all paths and steps ensuring that the route is smoothly lit with no dark patches on the way.

Trees and Shrubs

Up-lighting and back-lighting trees and shrubs can be dramatic and effective although positioning of the light source should be carefully considered to create impact with minimal glare. Fixed in-ground lights with adjustable lamps within the fitting can work well for larger trees but for shrubbery that will grow and alter throughout the seasons, the ubiquitous spike spot is a wonderful tool offering flexibility and effect at a relatively low cost.


There is no doubt that exterior lighting can bump up the cost of a project but it is a lamentable mistake to buy cheaper fittings with the aim of stretching the budget further. If the bottom line is looking too inflated it is better to choose fewer fittings and still stick with quality. Beware of stainless steel as there is a vast range on the market and I’ve seen cheap fittings corrode within six months near the coast. Go for 316L stainless steel or galvanised when selecting steel; alternatively copper is incredibly resilient and tones down well and bronze is practically indestructible. Alternatively hard anodised aluminium can work well or a good quality powder coated finish can be more economical.

Energy Efficiency It is true to say that with modern technology it is now possible to illuminate an entire garden with the equivalent of a 60 watt incandescent bulb. Whether the decision is made to light the exterior entirely by dedicated LEDs or a mixture of light sources will rather depend on budget and logistical factors such as the placement of drivers and transformers. Mains fittings offer more flexibility and combine well with retro fit LED lamps although for smaller punchier lights LEDs are general the best choice. Fibre optics can also look magical when combined with water features and, once in situ will last for years although your electrician will not love you for specifying them.


Claire Pendarves is a lighting designer with over 20 years’ experience. Meet the Designer 

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 


Goodbye to Grey Light

Goodbye to Grey Light

It’s not unusual, in general conversation, to hear people moan about the terrible light that energy efficient lamps give out but luckily the days of having to wait several minutes for the lamps to warm up and actually give out some form of decent light are rapidly passing.

Lighting technology has come on leaps and bounds since the original compact fluorescent came on the market with it’s grey undertones, and the every-day bulb is now being replaced with LEDs and making our lives clear again!

So how about a revamp? Given that the compact fluorescent lasts for such a long time, many of us will be still using lamps that were purchased several years ago and just think how things have progressed since then.  Remember to dispose of your CFLs carefully (see Recolight) as these lamps contain hazardous materials so cannot be just thrown out with the general waste.  Then how about investing in some quality LED lamps that have good colour rendering properties and a sharp crisp light.

There were some excellent examples on display at LuxLive in November, amongst them the new Philips Master LEDbulb; the clear 40 watt equivalent version seemed to give out the crispest light but at the moment only comes in an E27 fitting (large screw-in base) and may not be quite bright enough for every situation.  Other, more powerful ones are available with bayonet fittings and greater output although not quite the same sparkle.  Instant light though and well worth the investment.


Ideally there should never be less than two control circuits, three being the optimum and a fourth giving prime flexibility. The first will be atmospheric lighting close to the house, the second will be security and facility lighting (this will often be on a PIR with a timer and over-ride facility), and the third will generally be for landscaping beyond the immediate vicinity of the house, such as driveways and additional features. The luxury of the fourth can allow for an entertaining circuit such as illuminating a barbeque and dining area, swimming pool or hot tub if such indulgences exist.

Lighting a garden can be a functional exercise or an exciting adventure which will add a totally new dimension to a property. There’s no quick fix solution to creating it but with careful consideration and measured planning the effect can be a work of art. It’s a matter of choice.

New Sculptural Pieces come to Tremenheere

New Sculptural Pieces come to Tremenheere


I was thrilled to see that Cornwall based garden designer Darren Hawkes won a Gold for his Brewin Dolphin garden and that some of the sculptural elements of this will soon be installed at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens near Penzance. This will be a huge bonus to Tremenheere which already features some outstanding pieces and this news took me back to my involvement with Tremenheere last summer.

Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens

I had received an enquiry on the answerphone in the office for my local lighting design service (Illumina Lighting) but had tried to call the mobile number without success. Heading back from a design job in Lamorna I tried the number again and this time I got through. The man I spoke to said that he wanted to light an art installation and, when I asked whereabouts he was based I was informed that he was near Penzance. As I happened to be only fifteen minutes away I said I could drop by that day so duly rolled up at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens for the first time on a beautiful late summer’s afternoon.

At the side of the car park stood a gleaming chrome skip that I could only assume was artwork and it raised a little chuckle. Then I went on to meet the creator and driving force behind the gardens, Dr Neil Armstrong, who firstly showed me the striking building housing their fresh and airy restaurant and then guided me through the lush gardens up to the highest point where the most beautiful view of St Michaels Mount and the bay lay before us.

This was, he explained, a tricky lighting task and time was of the essence. He then led me through a pillared entrance leading to an inclining passageway and beyond to one of the most exquisite spaces I have every encountered. An elliptical domed ‘temple’ with a crisp oval opening in the roof casting the sky as the lead player above the cool white vessel below.

James Turrell

This was the work of world renowned American artist James Turrell – a Skyspace come to Cornwall. James Turrell has installations throughout the world; Israel, Japan, China, Australia, Europe and of course, the States. The structure was now finished but it remained unlit and the artist was due to visit in three weeks to see it complete. Time was of the essence! Not only that but the light had to be pure and the angle of the light had to be so delicately placed so as not to highlight any imperfections in the curved structure; in addition it was only to be used at twilight and was not to be the main player – the sky and the light should work in unison, each complimenting and paying tribute the other. A delicate task and a wonderful challenge.

“Oh, and one other point,” said Neil. “There’s no electricity!”

It was a tall ask but I promised to get back to Neil within three days with a solution to the problem. Five days later we met on site in the early evening; I was armed with a two metre length of high output, 2700°K, 95 CRI LED tape with a long lead, driver and plug that we could link to the generator as a temporary measure. The only way we could see how it worked was by trial and error so we positioned the tape and sat back to watch and wait.

There was a stillness in the void and the changing sounds of the settling of the day in the garden beyond. Somewhere nearby an owl hooted and the first touch of autumn entered the night air. We sat, we watched, we changed the angle of the tape. Should it be flat? No the light had to breathe, yet if it was at too great an angle it would throw the light out onto the surface on the other side and the effect directly above it would be lost. And as the crisp sky above us changed to an inky blue, so did the intensity and the effect of the light change in unison.

The verdict was that it was viable but we needed someone to execute the work before the arrival of James Turrell in two weeks. It had to be someone more than a standard electrician as the angling of the LED tape was vital and it would need to be checked constantly during the progression of the work. And it had to be someone who could start immediately. I promised Neil I would get back to him with an answer although silently I was stumped.

Then, in the middle of the night the answer popped into my head. There was only one person who I felt would do the job with the delicacy required. I had met lighting artist Eleanor Bell a couple of times and had seen some of her pieces; she was an artist but she was also a qualified electrician and, although our client base overlapped and she was, in effect my competitor, my gut feeling was that she would be right for the job. The most important point was that the job was done well and was sympathetic to the vision that James Turrell had.

I put my ego aside and phoned Eleanor. As it turned out she was thrilled to be approached as she is a huge admirer of James Turrell and had even written her university dissertation on him. Another magical evening of testing, tweaking, discussions and conclusions was spent in the Skyspace. I received an order for supplying the LED tape and then, feeling that my part of the job had been done, I passed the installation over to Eleanor’s competent hands.

James Turrell duly arrived and gave his seal of approval to the lighting. Everyone heaved a huge sigh of relief, Eleanor met her hero and yet another layer was added to the ethereal Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens.


Claire Pendarves is a lighting designer with over 20 years’ experience. Meet the Lighting Designer

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


Light Bulbs in the Spotlight

Light Bulbs in the Spotlight


The European Commission has just agreed to delay the banning of the halogen replacement version of the incandescent lamp until September 2018. This ban may come as news to the average consumer amidst curses and mutterings but the positive news is that by this date the market should be well established with cost effective LED alternatives; in fact by this time we will probably have turned away from this type of halogen through choice in any case.

So let’s have a look at the twisty path of the incandescent and its replacements and where we are heading in the near future.

*Author’s Note to purists: ‘Lamp’ or ‘Bulb’, does it matter as long as we understand?

The Classic Incandescent Light bulb

Now that was a blow when we were told that our trusty light source was to be banned. It gave a beautiful warm light, excellent colour rendition and went a fair way to heating one’s home in the winter. But no – that final point was one of the reasons for its demise!

People started hoarding them before the guillotine’s axe was to fall. In fact, I remember asking what I could do for a very ill friend and she said all she wanted was a good supply of 100 watt clear incandescent light bulbs so she could read easily!

So these were then replaced with:

The Compact Florescent Lamp

Has anyone, anywhere and at any time said they love these lamps? In the early days the light temperature was cold and the colour rendition was ghastly, casting a grey hue and making faces look sallow and colours lack lustre. They would take several minutes to warm up, whilst keeping most of us in fruitless anticipation of a decent volume of light being emitted. To add insult to injury they have received slurs relating to their effect on our skin and eyesight.

These have improved over recent years but how many people have bought the latest versions? I mean, isn’t the point of them that they last for years, and years… And then, when we do want to change them where do we put the old ones? We all know that they shouldn’t be disposed of with normal refuse but where? And what a bore! How many people actually do dispose of them in a responsible manner and, in reality, how much mercury is being added to our landfill?

Halogen Lightbulb

The Halogen version of the incandescent lamp. The best replacement in terms of clarity, colour rendition and the vitally important fact that they are dimmable. Not nearly as energy efficient as compact fluorescents but give instant light and the candle version works well with chandeliers when the bulb is exposed.

These are the lamps to be banned in September 2018

LED Light Bulb

The relatively new kid on the block, these have a very space age look. Not cheap and many not dimmable but we are getting to a better quality of light more instantaneously although we are still struggling to reach the output of the good ole incandescent 100 watt lamp. Still, progress is being made.

Latest LED Light Bulb

These are beautifully clear and sparkly. The higher output lamps are not all dimmable yet but undoubtedly within months this will be rectified. We are nearly there now with quality of light and the more efficient lamps keeping well below 10 watts with excellent output.

Another feature that some of these lamps offer is ‘dim-to-warm’ meaning that as they are dimmed, the colour temperature warms, more akin to the warmth of candle light.

And soon to come…

The Graphene Light Bulb

A new method being perfected by the University of Manchester forming a light bulb made of graphene coated LEDs which will be even more energy efficient and long lasting. It is anticipated that these will be on the open market in a matter of months at competitive rates.

The Squirrel Cage Lamp

This seems to have by-passed the regulations being of an industrial nature although very ‘on trend’, especially in bars and restaurants. Not energy efficient in the original version but can now be replaced with similar filament style LED versions such as:

And finally a funky version of the compact flurorescent

These are basically twisted fluorescent lamps in weird and wonderful shapes. Energy efficient, warm white with average colour rendition but not dimmable. These are by Plumen www.plumen.com

Light and Health

Light and Health

The world or lighting design is not just about getting the planning and circuits right as lighting itself is so interwoven with our general health and circadian rhythms.

Many of us suffer from seasonal SAD disease but if we look at the influence of light on a daily basis we would be surprised how we are all affected by relatively small variances in light.  And this is not just the amount of light but also the quality such as photopic and melanopic lux which can have an affect on our sleeping patterns and how alert we feel throughout the day.

We are now becoming more aware of how using computers and tablets at night, with their blue toned LED lighting can have a negative effect on our sleep which can then have a knock-on effect to our health and well being.

Certain lighting manufacturers such as Photonstar are producing lighting technology that mimics the patterns of natural light throughout the day and therefore works with our natural rhythms.  This is a huge leap in the world of lighting and offers fascinating benefits moving the world or lighting design onto a totally new level.

New Daylight Generating Skylight

New Daylight Generating Skylight

An impassioned presentation was made at Luxlive by Paulo Di Trapani, the inventor of the Coelux daylight-generating skylight. This wonderful new invention won the Light Source Innovation of the Year award at LuxLive 2014 where the installation was on display in all its glory.

Ten years in the making and currently at the approximate cost of £45,000 for supply and installation this is a rather fantastic design toy but it does raise the question of where it can lead us on our journey of sympathetic and energy efficient lighting. In the words of Coelux “The effect is so convincing that if you were to walk into a room illuminated by CoeLux unaware of our new technology, you might think nothing of it until you realize it’s a dreary day outside or that it’s 10 o’clock in the evening.”
Whilst this is a remarkable phenomenon it would need to be used carefully as the juxtaposition of a gloomy day visible from the same area into which wonderful sunshine is pouring would, in reality, be rather unnerving.
This invention is remarkable and exciting both in terms of the future of alternative lighting sources and the health benefits that it could offer generations to come.
Currently available through Ideaworks, this phenomenon can be viewed at the Experience Centre in Great Portland Street, London W1W 5QJ – www.ideaworks.co.uk