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.
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.
No, your lighting design plan won’t include the switching plan. This is for three reasons.
The plan starts to look messy and confused.
When home automation is used the switching plan is not really required – only circuits.
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 Pendarves originally qualified as an interior designer and is now a lighting consultant with over 20 years’ experience
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Pendarves originally qualified as an interior designer and is now a lighting consultant with over 20 years’ experience
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
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.
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.
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.
Turnaround is usually 7-10 days provided I have all the information to hand.
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.
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
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