The traditional single pendant light hanging from the middle of the ceiling is a hangover from the days of gas lamps and is probably one of the worst ways to light a room. It can create a dull, flat look and an oppressive atmosphere. Layering artificial lighting and making good use of natural light are better ways, and will transform a room. Here are a few ideas on how to use lighting creatively in your home.
Quick Ways to Maximize Natural Light
Making the most of natural light is the best way to have good lighting in your home during the day; there is simply no substitute for sunlight.
The first step is to remove any obstructions to natural light as extensively as possible (i.e. dense net curtains and items of furniture). Then, hanging large mirrors, especially opposite windows, is a really simple way to extend light without taking up space or doing any rewiring. Other reflective surfaces, and light colors on walls and furnishings in general, will do the same job.
In terms of window dressings, thin voile and muslin are preferable to nets. Of course, trees and bushes outside windows are sources of many a neighborly dispute due to their light-blocking properties. If there’s one outside your window, it’s worth considering trimming it back, as the effect of all that natural light could enhance the whole feel of your room.
Ambient Artifice: Accent Lighting and Layered Lighting
The staples of layered lighting are standard lamps, wall lights, uplighters, down lighters, and spotlights. Get them all wired up to the same switchboard for practical and flexible use. Accent lighting uses spotlights and down lighters in particular to throw light on specific features or areas; the classic is the down lighter casting light over a painting on the wall.
However, you can use accent lighting in lots of creative ways; one of my favorites is to have mini-uplighters or spike lights in plant pots, which creates a gorgeous effect with variations of green. For a large plant, place an uplighter on the floor behind it; the light will bounce off the ceiling and back on to the plant to form interesting shadows.
To give a posh bookshop or library feel to your book cabinets, clip spotlights on the underside of the shelves. If you have any glass ornaments or art pieces, they will look absolutely stunning when lit from behind or below. Fluorescent strips create a dramatic effect.
Changing the Look and Feel of a Room with Lighting
Creative use of lighting can make a room appear larger, or taller and less cramped, or cozier and warmer. Uplighters are the key to making small or cramped rooms seem larger, as is placing light in each corner of the room. Wall washers on the ceiling will add drama and a feeling of space. Vertical wall washers, along with low-hanging pendant lights, will make a ceiling feel higher. For a room that feels too stark and cool, multiple table lamps placed into groups will create low-down pools of light that add a vital coziness factor.
Whether you’re going for a dramatic change with new windows and rewiring, or just placing a few table lamps about the place, creative lighting is the perfect way to transform your home without the need to redecorate.
David Ingram is a UK based blogger who has a serious passion for interior design and home renovation. By day he works for Hunters Estate Agents, but by night he can be found rearranging his bedroom furniture and creating custom decorations.
Picture – Gnilenkov Aleksey