Much talk (of which, we’re all guilty) is afforded to the long dark hours of winter, and plenty is made of the ‘grand stretch’ that spring eventually heralds. Whatever the season, inadequate or incorrect lighting can leave our homes feeling dismal and drab. With clever combinations and interesting layering to add warmth and interest, there’s multiple ways to avoid a lighting let-down.
ONE When it comes to lighting, the holy trinity of TASK, AMBIENT and ACCENT cannot be overstated. Task is the foundation layer, according to Ciara McStay of Lightvault, which illuminates the work areas in the home, such as the kitchen, office or bathroom. Functional lighting, such as under-cabinet strip lighting, should be considered in the early stages of kitchen design, as should dedicated downlights over island units.
TWO Banish shadowy bathrooms by evenly distributing light sources throughout the space. A pair of contemporary sconces or wall lights mounted on either side of the sink are always a welcome addition. Pendant lights and chandeliers can add wow factor here too, but beware, they can overwhelm easily unless space allows.
Homefield pendant by Astro, €345.50, Lightvault
THREE “Don’t neglect common areas such as LANDINGS AND CORRIDORS,” advises Lorraine Stevens of LOMI Design. “They work best illuminated with either a simple, elegant pendant or practical recessed downlights.” Lorraine goes on to recommend, “In a home office or study area, pair a desk lamp at eye level with an overhead light source.” The key to good lighting is not to rely on just one light source.
FOUR “Clever use of a SMALL SIDE LIGHT can really help to create an intimate atmosphere, and draw the eye to a favourite object or beautiful piece of furniture in a room,” says John Adams of Article. To create instant atmosphere, John also advises having sockets connected to the main wall switch so you can turn on a number of lamps with one flick of a switch.
Agata lamp by Contardi, €904, LOMI Design
FIVE Occasional lights such as floor and table lamps create a feeling of cosiness in living spaces, says Helle Moyna of Nordic Elements. “A lantern-style table lamp is a firm favourite of mine, or for something different, a vintage table lamp can be very unique.” However, she warns, “Pendants can be quite harsh unless they are on dimmers and lowered accordingly.” Recessed downlighters should also be installed with dimmer switches, allowing you to control the light level according to the task or time of day.
SIX When the kitchen island is not the main working area, grouping pendants, and hanging them at different heights, can create a striking focal point. A layered lighting scheme combining spotlights, pendants or chandeliers with lamps will also add atmosphere, interest and warmth.
Pendant lights, from €25, Harvey Norman
SEVEN A common pendant pitfall includes using the wrong style or size of bulb. “Pendants and ceiling lamp shapes with too bright bulbs are best avoided – these do nothing to create atmosphere,” says Helle Moyna of Nordic Elements. “In the living room, choose closed shades to avoid looking at the bare bulb, unless it is a feature of the light.”
EIGHT A trial run can take the expense out of ill-considered choices. “If your space is crying out for a central feature chandelier, tread carefully,” says Lorraine Stevens of LOMI Design. “Measure the space, and don’t forget about the height, too. It is very hard to get a sense of scale when choosing pendants, and in my experience, most people buy one that is too small for their space. My tip is to hang a couple of empty boxes in different sizes from the ceiling, so that you can see how big your pendant should be.”
Featured image: Miller floor lamp, €495, Nordic Elements