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How to design and create a lighting scheme

This article will focus on mainly indoor lighting schemes but we will touch on outdoor lighting with a more detailed article to follow.

Forget paint, wallpaper, furniture, curtains the most important part of designing a room is light!

Everything changes according to the way the light falls on it. Take a look at the room you are looking at creating a lighting scheme for, stand in it at various times during the day and see how the room changes. Look at colour swatches of fabric and again see how they competely change according to the ammount and the direction of the light falling on it. Most paint colours look completely different on different lights hence the reason to do a colour test patch before embarking on painting the entire room.

I have discussed in previous articles the importance of colour in creating effects especially in relation to light - a dark, cold room needing to create warmth; a sunny, light room being ideal for bright colours and the role of light and colour in creating an atmostphere such as in a dining room.

Here we are going to focus on the actual lights themselves.

There are 3 main types of lighting:

Task - for cleaning, cooking etc.

Ambient - to create a mood eg. Dinner, party, relaxing 

Accent - to pick out a detail in a room eg a painting, alcoves, stairways

The most important thing to remember is to incorporate levels. To do this think in terms of the 3 types of lighting as detailed above.

Let's take a Kitchen with family area as an example.

Where you prepare food and eat you need task lighting. This can be in the form of halogen downlighters and pendant lights add a designer feel as well as a providing a focal point or feature.

downlights.jpg pendant-lamp-over-dining-table.jpg kitchen-rope-lighting.jpg  

Ambient lighting can be under cabinet lighting or rope lights around the underside of an island / floor units and can be extremely effective as well as providing a low- energy option.

Also, ambient lighting in a seated area can be in the form of low-level lamps or uplighters behind furniture. Low-energy bulbs have moved on a long way and using these as your main  background lighting source instead on leaving all the ceiling lights on not only creates a more relaxing environment but also will save you money on your electricity bill!

low-level-lamps.jpg   soft-grey-table-lamp.jpg

Lights on a dimmer can also turn a light from having a task function to an ambient one.

Accent lighting can be a feature in its own right. Updown lighters on walls cast light up and down as suggested in the name to create an effective look. Also pick out pictures and mirrors with carefully placed lights either in the ceiling or behind the feature itself. This also works in alcoves and a light in a dark corner of a room turns a wasted area in to a focal point. Draw eyes up a staircase with lights in the wall or treads themselves.

  exterior-updown-lighters.jpg lights-in-alcoves.jpg lights-on-stairs.jpg

Outdoors accent lighting turns an outside space in to something stylish and magical.


Colour cordinate your lights and lamps with your main colour schemes or they are a brillant way to add an accent colour.


Take a look at our lighting section for a wide range of ceiling, floor and table lamps by clicking on the following link