Create the perfect lighting scheme

Follow this expert advice to choose the best lighting combinations for your home. Includes lighting schemes for the kitchen, living room, bathroom and the garden, detailing not only where to put the lights, but what type of lights you should use to achieve the right effect.

Follow this expert advice to choose the best lighting combinations for your home.

Solutions for a practical kitchen

Kitchen lighting scheme

ABOVE: Task lighting such as spots under wall cabinets is key in a kitchen.

‘With the increased popularity of open-plan kitchen-diners, lighting has become important – with a mix of solutions usually the best option.

‘Think about the natural light your kitchen gets and how you use the space during the day and evening. You need good clear task lighting in working zones, for example, spotlights over a prep zone and an extractor with integrated lighting over a cooking zone. Consider dimmable ambient lighting for a wash over the whole area and perhaps some statement pendant lights over a table or breakfast bar, rather than ceiling spots.

‘LED plinth lighting can also be a great way to add ambience. But be careful of choosing anything faddish, such as coloured lighting, as you may not use it as much as you think.’

— Jane Stewart, design director, Mowlem & Co bespoke kitchen specialists


Solutions for a cosy living room

Lighting scheme for a living room or lounge

ABOVE: A combination of lights at different levels will help to create a warm ambience.

‘Always use a combination of ambient, task and accent lighting and consider your scheme at the planning stage to maximise opportunities and to keep wiring costs to a minimum.

Seating areas require targeted lighting such as a directional floor light, while pendant lights provide a central lighting source with strong visual impact, so choose a fitting that makes a statement whether it’s lit or unlit.

Versatile dimmer switches are essential for creating a warm ambient feel in the evening or brighter light on darker days. Layering lighting is also important, so use occasional lights such as table or floor lamps to help build up overall ambient lighting – you should also highlight specific areas such as a corner to make a room look bigger.

If you have small rooms, wall lights are great space-savers and if you’re not choosing lighting at the planning stage, plugged wall lights or clip lights are practical and easy to fit later on.’

— Peter Bowles, founder, Original BTC


Solutions for a relaxing bathroom

Bathroom lighting scheme

ABOVE: Use of alternating colours can create different atmospheres depending on your mood.

‘Getting the right mix of lighting is crucial to create atmosphere, but you also need to provide adequate task lighting for shaving or applying make-up. Consider light layers to enhance the feel, architectural features and design elements.

Do this firstly, adding recessed downlights to supply overall light in a bathroom, casting a pool of light onto the water, and the use of glass can be particularly effective.

A second layer of white LED lighting can be used to create a more relaxed look and feel – for example, over a bath. The final layer can incorporate coloured LEDs, floor-mounted to add intensity. Try yellow for a morning shower or calming reds and pinks for an evening soak in the bath.

Don’t forget to install some practical task lighting. Crisp halogen lights should be used in areas where you want to apply your make-up and need to be placed symmetrically within or alongside mirrors to cast an even light.

Put in separate wiring circuits to allow you to select all lighting simultaneously or enable you to choose individual layers to create a particular mood.

Remember to plan lighting as early as possible to minimise delays and costs later.’

— Pauline Heffernan, senior designer, Ripples bathroom specialists


Solutions for an outdoor space

Garden lighting scheme

ABOVE: Uplighters can be used to dramatic effect when used at the base of a tree.

‘The key to successful lighting is flexibility, so consider spiked fittings that can be moved around your garden to suit the changing seasons and plant growth.

Use uplights outdoors to shine up tall plants and trees, reflector-style lights to wash over broader areas of planting and create anything from a soft highlight to dramatic shadows.

Ground-recessed fittings are ideal for lighting ornaments, while underwater units add interest to water features.

Use downlights and hanging lights to wash through branches and spotlight social areas and planting below.

Wall-mounted lights will illuminate architecture around seating areas, while recessed wall, floor or step lights will help create atmosphere and increase safety. Not surprisingly green-coloured fittings tend to blend best with garden plants and bronze fittings with tree trunks – and copper patinates to a neutral green in time.

Bear in mind a little light goes a long way, so use it selectively and remember darkness can be used to great effect to conceal any less than attractive areas.’

— Sally Storey, design director, John Cullen Lighting

Illustrations: Esther Nicholson