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13 Top Tips for Planning Lighting [2022]

13 Top Tips for Planning Lighting [2022]

interior-lighting

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

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 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.

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.

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.

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!