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Creating a lighting scheme

One thing that can really influence a home is the use of great lighting. It’s often the last thing that people think about, as getting the right furniture or paint colour can be the priority, but get it right and lighting can dramatically add emphasis to your beautiful room. But how do you get modern lighting to fit within a more classically decorated room?

Let’s take a look at some of the different lighting options on offer and how to make them work within a period home.

Layering onto an existing Lighting scheme

You may have a room that already has main lighting. Layering lighting is a way to add to what you already have to create depth and interesting focal points. You can use lamps or simply candles to make easy and subtle changes to your room, it’s inexpensive and will make a real impact to the atmosphere of your space, especially when entertaining.

Using objects – If you have only one main lighting point, you could try adding lighting to objects around your room, such as bookshelves, cabinets or behind the TV. Arranging lighting to add emphasis to pieces of art you may have is also a lovely technique. This is great for small rooms that don’t have space for extra lamps or floor standing lighting. It also means that you have some controllable lighting, so when you want to switch off the main light you can leave the smaller object lights on to create a nice ambiance for the evening.

Lamps and uplighters – Using up lighting and lamps, table or floor standing, bring another good element of energy to a room. They can be used functionally for task lighting, to bring light to an area where you read or work from. As well as can be used to add style or continue a theme in a room. Lamps are often enjoyed for their appearance as much as they are for their use of light. There are many styles of lamps available that will bring effect and functionality to a room. In Georgian style homes there are many options to choose from, be that a small guilded table lamp or a free standing chandelier styled lamp. Using chandelier styled lamps has an elegant and playful effect created by their intricate light reflections.

Uplighting is best used to highlight the focal points of a room or to add a three dimensional effect to otherwise unused areas. Corners, nooks and crannies of rooms can be transformed and styled correctly and can add or change the ambiance of a space. Wall sconces have been used in many periods of interior design and some of the most ornate and beautiful were found in the Georgian era. As with chandeliers, the use of glass and mirrors in wall sconces can make the most out of small amounts of light, using little to no space, so a great option for rooms of all sizes.

I love this floor standing lamp from Besselink & Jones , it’s simplicity would work really well in a period home.

For some contemporary lighting, from table and floor lamps to wall and pendant lights, I recommend Porta Romana.

Downlighting – Used in its proper place, downlighting can be effective and functional. It’s not to everybody’s taste, but in certain styles will fit in extremely well. It creates a soft glow which is best used in the evening. Its a different alternative to small free standing lamps to add warm shafts of light. Its not to be used as a main source of light for any room as it has specific coverage and leaves the areas around cave like if not well lit with other solutions.

Feature Lighting – If you are working from scratch on a main lighting scheme, some feature lighting can really give a normal room the ‘wow’ factor. It can also add a modern edge to a period home like the image below of a contemporary lighting installation in a hallway.

Candles– This may seem obvious as candles bring a sense of a calm and serenity to any space, but used in different ways can make an instant change to the mood of a room. Not to mention how aesthetically pleasing the flame from an open candle can look. In Georgian and Regency times candles were seen as a status symbol, only the high classes had them due to the cost of the wax candles. The very wealthy would use hundreds when entertaining, not only to light the room where they were holding the parties, but also to add decoration and a definite nod to the wealth of the function holders.

Placing candles in front of mirrors,using reflective holders or sconces doubles the effect of the candle light, it also adds extra sparkle to more dim areas of a room where a lamp or another form of lighting may not be possible. Candles will fit into any style of decor’ especially period style homes where this use of light was first originated. Candle light works especially well in the dining room.

Light strength and colour

The colour and strength of light are also important things to consider and the introduction of LED bulbs is a challenge because these energy efficient bulbs give off a blue-ish light which is not attractive.  Energy saving bulbs, which look very similar to the old incandescent bulbs, and are dimmable, have a truer colour rendering. In fittings where the bulb can be seen and no adjustment can be made to affect the colour given off I would recommend using Energy Saving bulbs instead of LEDs. USe the LED bulbs in cupboards and utility rooms etc.

As mentioned previously, having dimmer switches installed or using lamps and fittings that already have dimmers mean that you can can change the level, appearance and atmosphere of a room by the flick of a switch. What we might want in the day time, generally natural light, is often not what we want if  relaxing in the evening or holding a party. The use of LED lighting produces a low light, but often the bulbs can be unsightly so are best used concealed when highlighting shelves or a sculpture for example. LED lights cannot be dimmed though, so for dimming you will need to use appropriate bulbs.

Colour of light can be achieved using incandescent bulbs, coloured LED’s or using the simple technique of lining a lamp shade with a colour, in the vein of David Hicks. Coloured glass lamps are effective to add bursts of tone to rooms. Colour is also a mood enhancer, pinks, red and soft golds bring warmth and comfort, whereas blues and more bright white light make a room feel more cool and modern.

 I hope this has given you some ideas to either add to an already existing lighting scheme or some fresh insight into how you could start from scratch in a new room. I incorporate lighting into all of my interior design work, and if you are interested in seeing more of my work please visit my website by clicking here.

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