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How to light a room: Expert tips from interior designers

How to light a room: Expert tips from interior designers
Planning how to light a room is an essential part of any redecoration project. Interior design experts Dowsing & Reynolds share their advice on good lighting
Lighting has the power to make or break a room, and yet it can be tempting to think about lighting at the end of a project as a finishing touch.
It’s easy to add decorative lights afterwards, but it’s frustrating when you realise, once the dust has settled, that you could have put wall lights or spots in, or you’ve accidentally created the perfect space for a statement chandelier.
Ally Dowsing-Reynolds, CEO at home decor brand Dowsing & Reynolds, shares why lighting designs need to be part of the upfront planning process in your renovation, and how to layer lighting to get the ambience just right.

Room lighting design: How to get started

Credit: Emma Green Design. Plan how you'll light your room at the start of a redecoration project to enhance how you'd like to use the space
It’s like a lot of things in life. Good planning means you have a better chance of getting what you really want and need to make your home the best it can be for you.
My top tip is to take a little bit of time right at the start of the project, when you’re thinking about the overall layout, to see:
  • Where in the room the natural light comes in
  • Where you’re going to be doing various things in the kitchen (such as prepping food or maybe enjoying cosy drinks at the island)
  • And don’t forget how you want to feel in the room—that’s really important
Looking at these three things can really help to guide your lighting decisions, and will lead you nicely onto the next stage which is thinking about your lighting layers.
Layered lighting is about combining different kinds of light to create the atmosphere that you want while emphasising different aspects of the space. Create a list of what’s involved in your daily routine and you’ll start to get a good picture.  
"Layered lighting is about combining different kinds of light to create the atmosphere you want"
It’s all about having various types of lighting that you can adjust to suit your use or mood. I think of it a little like putting layers of clothing on; you can take a layer or two off, and you can turn down a few lights, to get the feel you want.
Your layers can be made up of a number of types of lighting:
  • task lighting
  • plinth lighting
  • spotlights
  • under-cabinet/in-cabinet lighting
  • wall lighting
  • pendant lighting
  • decorative lighting
Choose what works best for you according to how you use the space throughout the day and night, and how you want to feel in it.

Use layered lighting for a flexible living space

Credit: Callerton Kitchens. Use a combination of dimmer switches and spotlights to complement the work and play that happens in your kitchen
Layered lighting can be a great way to take a room from day to night.
Take the kitchen, for example. You might want to have plenty of good clear light during the day to make cups of tea and prep your meals, but in the evening, you might want the ability to turn it all down and feel cosy and intimate.
"Downlighters can highlight a kitchen island during a busy cooking session, whereas wall lights will bring a cosier, softer light"
The key here is to install your lighting on dimmer switches, to allow you to completely control the ambience of the room, especially if you have separate “zones”.
For example, downlighters can be used to highlight a kitchen island during a busy cooking session, whereas wall lights will bring a cosier, softer light that’s perfect for unwinding. Accent lighting is also great for making a room feel bigger by lighting up dark nooks.

How to create light zones for your room

Credit: Kyle Joseph Interiors. Plan different light zones in your bedroom for getting ready and relaxing
Your bedroom is another space where you’ll likely want pockets of different types of light, so it’s important to think about how many sources of light you have.
Combine ceiling lighting with wall lights, floor lamps and table lamps, as all of these can create zones in the space to give different feels and functions.
Overhead lighting is great for when you’re getting ready whereas bedside table lamps will help you unwind on an evening with your favourite book.
"Overhead lighting is great for when you’re getting ready whereas bedside table lamps will help you unwind"
It’s all down to your personality at the end of the day. We all react differently to style and to interiors—that’s the beauty of home decor.
Some of you will want there to be no real moments of interest—you want everything to fade nicely into the background because that’s what your brain wiring likes. Some will want to add in a little more personality, play with colour and have fun with fixtures.
Discover what you like, what is really you, and own it. It’s your house.
Dowsing & Reynolds designs and curates beautiful home décor products that help you create a home you love. Harmonious styling details and colour finishes across our ranges enable you to match and coordinate your finishing touches effortlessly
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