Owning a home

Lighting your home – what really works

3 min read

Lighting pays a huge part in creating a home that is not only well lit, but also functional and a pleasure to live in. If you’re doing a full renovation, it pays to tackle your lighting plan early on, and get it right the first time. If you’re looking at simply updating your home or a specific area, you can use lighting to transform the look of the space by enhancing its assets, and also helping to disguise any shortcomings.

Firstly keep in mind that ‘good’ lighting and ‘bright’ lighting are not the same thing. A room that’s well lit is one that has layered lighting, offering illumination at varying levels. There are three types of lighting to remember; ambient - the general room lighting, task lighting - provides illumination for reading, cooking etc, and accent lighting - to showcase design details such as art and architecture, or to simply add visual interest to a room. In a well-designed interior space, all three of these are layered to create a sophisticated and interesting atmosphere.

To help you with your lighting plan, I’ve broken it down room by room. For each, firstly consider the function of the room and what it will be used for e.g. cooking, watching television, getting dressed etc. Aim to have a mix of light sources at different levels to create a flattering ambience, and appropriate task lighting for whatever you do in that space.


In living areas use a combination of floor lamps, table lamps and down-lights (recessed or track lighting). To increase the sense of space in a room, incorporate some lights that shine upwards. This will create a softer light with less glare than that of harsh down light that shines straight at the floor. If renovating, talk to your electrician about having some power sockets wired through to the light switch for floor lamps or other bespoke lights. Pay attention to the proportions when it comes to decorative lighting, taking into account ceiling height and how the light will affect the room. It also pays to install dimmers. In addition to being a great energy saver, they allow for flexibility depending on the time of day, event, or mood.

Lighting your home what really works image2Dining 

Hang one or two pendant lights over the dining table to create the perfect low-level light when dining, as well as a strong focal point. Size and height are important factors to ensure that you achieve the right visual balance and low glare. Alternatively, a wall lamp can provide both task and ambient light. For a relaxing and flattering result elsewhere in the room, indirect lighting is best. 


The best layering combination for kitchens includes both ambient and task lighting. Do however take into account your surroundings. If your kitchen is open plan, you may choose to focus on softer, more ambient lighting to compliment the dining and living areas. When doing a full kitchen renovation, address the lighting in the early planning stages to incorporate practical lighting solutions such as integrated LED lighting for your splashback. LED down lights are a great low-maintenance option with dimmable features, should you wish to change your kitchen ambience. Task lighting is essential over a kitchen island with pendants being a popular style.


The layering of both task and ambient lighting is crucial in creating a peaceful and balanced bedroom. For reading purposes place a lamp on your bedside table, or install a wall lamp above. Dressing areas and walk-in wardrobes require both ambient and task lighting, while small low level lights are great for doorways and hallways. They may well be a necessity for your kids, as well as providing a guiding light for nocturnal visits to the bathrooms.


One of the trickier rooms, the challenge here is achieving balance between a bright, even light and a softer glow. The best choice for casting a soft task light that is perfect for grooming and applying makeup is sidelights, such as wall lamps on either side of the mirror. Candles are also a nice touch, helping you to unwind while you soak in the bath.

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