Fabulous lighting can enhance your design scheme throughout your home, commanding attention day and night. And with a smorgasbord of fixtures, bulb types and styles available, it can be tailored to suit specific tasks and moods. To help plan your home’s lighting and work out which fittings go where, we’ve rounded up tips for every room.
As both a food preparation zone and key social hub, kitchen lighting needs to fulfil many functions. Sharon Breeze, national account manager for lighting firm Brilliant, says it’s important to balance task lighting, which ensures safety and good visibility, with ambient lighting, which provides more localised, often warmer, light. “Ceiling lights can be great for refits and updates, with LED low-profile and decorative options providing strong light output for task lighting,” she says. To avoid shadows, fit downlights directly above or in front of the main food prep area and use bulbs with a light output of more than 850 lumens and a broad light beam. LED strips under cupboards will provide illumination to benchtops and highlight the splashback.
Ambient lighting adds flair. “Pendants are ideal for creating a more intimate zone,” says Sharon. Choose a style that’s cohesive with adjoining living areas, such as a textural fitting to reflect a coastal look, or copper for an industrial feel. Keep in mind how different materials and styles distribute light; glass and open-weave fittings will have a broader light output yet may cast reflections and shadow patterns, while the light output from an enclosed bell pendant will only be downwards. Sharon advises hanging pendants lower for atmosphere and higher if they’re also for task lighting.
Relaxed living zones
A socialising space, the living room is better suited to a softer, diffused background light. Kamal Ramchandani, account manager at Cafe Lighting, suggests recessed ceiling lights, flush or close to ceiling fixtures, wall sconces and decorative accent lamps, which highlight furniture and decor. “Ambient light fills the room but may not be sufficient for specific activities like reading,” he says. Consider a floor lamp by a favourite reading chair, or a bright table lamp. Dimmer switches are also a great way to turn up luminosity for tasks or turn it down for an intimate ambience.
Take into account your colour scheme: white walls and light neutral furnishings will help bounce light around the room, making it brighter. However, darker flooring and walls absorb light, so more fittings or a brighter bulb may be required to achieve sufficient illumination.
The bedroom is a sanctuary and should be lit accordingly – consider soft lighting, perhaps linked to separate dimmable switches for lighting specific areas as desired. Recessed downlights can cover general needs, with a central pendant or chandelier to create some beautiful shadows and light play. Alternatively, restrict downlights to spaces such as a dressing room or walk-in robe, and retain a central fixture for the main part of the room.
Table lamps by the bed are ideal for reading and can be easily updated when decor changes. A pair of pendants suspended either side of the bed, or a set of pretty wall lights, is a good choice for smaller rooms as it frees up space on the bedside table.
In this preening and unwinding space, lighting needs to do double duty. The scale of the room will dictate the number of fittings required for even light distribution and to give flexibility, says Sharon. A layered scheme might include any of these: an LED oyster ceiling light, downlights, wall lamps, a central decorative fixture and an LED heat lamp, which lights, provides warmth and often includes a ventilating fan, a must in bathrooms.
One of the most important areas to illuminate is above the vanity, with task lights placed over or at either side of the mirror to avoid shadows. Colour temperature is measured in kelvins (K); when selecting bathroom bulbs, Sharon recommends a colour temperature of between 3400K and 4000K to provide the closest match to natural light.
The final layer comes from decorative fittings. “Pendants over counters add a touch of luxe and provide additional task lighting, while strip lighting gives a modern look and can create an ambient glow behind mirrors and below cabinets,” she says.
Safety tip: Restrictions apply to the installation of lights in wet areas like bathrooms. Consult a licensed electrician who can advise you on the best location and suitability of fixtures.
Super smart lighting
Lights have become incredibly clever and easy to control. For the ultimate in convenience,Sengled ‘Element’ hub and compatible bulbs enable home illumination via voice control or remotely on a smart device. The wireless hub can be placed anywhere your home has wi-fi and connected to up to 64 globes, allowing you to schedule, operate and dim lights from any location. Another innovation – the Sengled ‘Pulse’ smart light – has Bluetooth speakers built into an LED bulb so it doubles as a sound system in any area it’s installed. It’s also compatible with existing light fittings,
so installation is as easy as changing a light bulb.
Had a lightbulb moment?
If you’re feeling inspired to change up lighting in your home, head into your local Bunnings for what you need to get the job done.
Photo credit: Cath Muscat