Given that the whole world is a stage, what would we do without stage lighting? Consider the drama and impact that lighting design adds to a piece of theatre. From the spotlight on a quiet moment to the floodlighting of an ensemble scene – none of these moments would be complete without the right intensity, colour and, of course, placement of light.
Your home is no different. Clearly, it’s no place for a theatre stage, but there are settings for drama, for quiet reflection and for grand statements in every home. Or at least there should be. Interior lighting is the way to emphasise each one of these.
Interior lighting sins
Let’s look at the challenge of lighting from the worst- case scenario as a way to highlight (pardon the pun) some of the lighting opportunities that are missed in so many homes. Have you ever taken a look at yourself in the glow of a convenience store? It ain’t flattering; in fact, it can be downright terrifying. The colour and evenly spaced overhead fluorescent lights give you an almost ‘undead’ pallor. The main lesson to be learned from this is to avoid overhead fluoro lighting like the plague.
The second lighting sin that’s prevalent in many Australian homes is what I describe as the ‘swiss cheese’ effect. It’s when ‘even’ lighting is created by spacing a number of halogen lights across the ceiling in a grid pattern. This not only ruins the nice clean surface of the ceiling, it creates evenly lit rooms with no contrasting dark spots, or corresponding bright ones either. It may seem like a good idea in principle but it makes the drama and nuance I was describing earlier unattainable. You’d see all the action, all the time. There would be no contrast, no ambience, no sense of movement or play of light and shade.
The question is, do you want your home to look like a convenience store or a stage? The way to achieve a beautifully lit home is to put the emphasis, via lighting, on special items such as paintings or plants or other significant aspects of your home.
Draw up a lighting plan that leaves darker spots, which create a more relaxed ambience. Place lighting on the top of a cupboard so it enables a soft glow to bounce off the ceiling, or set it so it flows out from underneath a bench seat or piece of furniture.
Lighting needs to be practical, too. Use step lights to illuminate the path along a hallway or up a staircase, overhead lighting to assist your cooking prep in the kitchen, and a good downlight over the bathroom basin top to give you even light for make-up application. Lighting either side of a mirror can do the same thing but is difficult to do stylishly – go for a Grace Kelly 1950s movie-star glamour rather than showgirl change room.
Interior light fixtures
Lights are also design pieces in themselves so think about the form of the fittings and how they relate to the interior design, the space and the brief. In my renovation I created a staircase with a large void through the middle, which begged for a large cascading light fitting to be hung in that space. Bedrooms should also have a particular type of light fitting that suits the style of the home and works in with the styles of the lights placed elsewhere. From downlights to pendant lights and lamps, every light needs to work as part of the overall scheme.
Lighting is an extremely important part of every well-finished and considered interior, so take the time to look for opportunities to create impact and highlight features you want noticed while masking or downplaying less-attractive aspects. Avoid lighting your home in an evenly spaced grid pattern. Rather, delight in the effect when each area is treated differently.
Originally published as: https://www.homestolove.com.au/darren-palmers-guide-to-interior-lighting-5470