Lighting can make a house into a home and will allow the personality of the owner to shine through. Without good lighting, the impact of all the other well-thought out details– sumptuous furnishings, opulent flooring, luxurious wall coverings– will be lost. If we are to make the most of our living environment, getting the lighting right is essential. 

How are the dramatic improvements in lighting technology and the new energy efficiency regulations affecting the way that we are able to light our homes?

Replicating Natural Light

Artificial light comes in all hues and intensities. The fast progression of technological development in lighting at present makes it easier to try to replicate natural light. Artificial light has different properties and has a different role to play in our built environment.

Low voltage– the low voltage spot has been the mainstay of domestic residential lighting for the last 20 years. Used for general lighting as well as specific lighting e.g. to light art work.

LED (Light Emitting Diode)– LED now replaces all the jobs that low voltage has been used for. The output and CRI– Color Rendering Index (or ability to reflect a true color)– of LED has improved sufficiently to allow like-for-like replacement. LED has the advantage of being virtually maintenance free as well as cool to the touch.

Lighting a house with LED is not so much a choice as a necessity now. LED behaves very differently to low voltage and mains voltage light. LED is a direct light source and does not have the same ambient qualities as mains and low voltage so you really need to know what you are doing with LED in order to achieve the best possible design.

Compact and linear fluorescent– CFL’s have improved no end in line with the development of the LEDs. They are generally cheap and easy to install and have a role to play in functional ‘back room’ areas of domestic dwellings.

The need for energy efficiency is driving the design build industry environment towards harvesting of natural daylight. One case in point is the huge rise in the use of glass in domestic dwellings. Artificial light can thus be used more sparingly.

Mains voltage– this is still a perennial favorite for the atmosphere is creates. Human beings respond emotionally to their lit environment, and a mains voltage lamp light will always appear cozy and atmospheric.

The quality and intensity of light at the North Pole (on a good day) and in the Southern Ocean is quite stunning. Thus we often view natural light as dull, grey and flat.

How important is the positioning of lighting to the success of an overall scheme?

Lighting can be recessed in the ceiling, mounted on or in walls, recessed in the floor or in walls at low level and inserted into joinery. When planning, think about how lighting might be used in the ceiling, wall and floor. This will result in a more cohesive lighting scheme.

What are some top tips for getting the best out of your lighting?

Use a designer if at all possible. Contact DMJ Restorations for your free consultation. Much has changed in lighting over the last two years, it is a minefield to understand so if at all affordable get help. It will reap dividends in the future.

The eye is always drawn to the brightest point. Thus a correctly recessed spot will highlight art or a mirror over a fireplace in a living room. Equally in a listed building where recess may not be available, the use of two plug-in compact floor based uplights will frame the fireplace creating a stronger central focal point.

Directional recessed spot light used correctly to bounce reflected light off walls is the best way to open out a space. Your eye is always drawn to the brightest point thus reflected light will make a small space appear larger. In a large open plan space, breaking up the lighting utilizing several different circuits is the first thing to do to ensure you can use all or just parts of the open plan space.

How important is the level of control that we have over the lighting in our homes?

Dimming a lighting circuit adds instant flexibility and mood lighting to the simplest of schemes. Where a control system is used it is paramount that the system is properly commissioned by the lighting designer.

How can lighting be used to provide focal points within a room?

The golden rule of good lighting design is to use the right type of light fitting in the right position. , if it does not have a specific task you should delete it from a scheme.. These will light only the floor and visually ‘close a space down’.

How important is it to consider the dynamics of reflection and shadow in a lighting scheme?

Reflection, light and shade are the essential components of any scheme. Light is important but without shadow you can not achieve any atmosphere, variation or texture. Understanding the space in which you are working will allow you to use reflection to your advantage where required and mask it where necessary.
In what ways can lighting be used effectively to break and enhance small spaces up or divide large open spaces?

Directional recessed spot light used correctly to bounce reflected light off walls is the best way to open out a space. Your eye is always drawn to the brightest point thus reflected light will make a small space appear larger. In a large open plan space, breaking up the lighting utilizing several different circuits is the first thing to do to ensure you can use all or just parts of the open plan space.
Dimming a lighting circuit adds instant flexibility and mood lighting to the simplest of schemes. Where a control system is used it is paramount that the system is properly commissioned by the lighting designer.

You get what you pay for with light fittings. Your lighting is as important as the structure of your house.

The eye is always drawn to the brightest point. Thus a correctly recessed spot will highlight art or a mirror over a fireplace in a living room. Equally in a listed building where recess may not be available, the use of two plug-in compact floor based uplights will frame the fireplace creating a stronger central focal point.

Steer clear of compact fluorescent lamps in your table lamps. Use energy saving lamps instead. They are closer to traditional incandescent lights sources, dimmable and easy to recycle.

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