How to create mood lighting
Make sure your corridors and staircases are well lit in order to make your house feel homely and inviting.
- In an open plan living area, you can use light to carve out different zones around the dining table or comfortable seating area.
- Get more ideas and practical installation tips from Perfect Lighting: New Tools & Techniques For Every Room In The Home, by Sally Storey, £30, Jacqui Small LLP.
- Find ready-made colourful mood lighting at Verdi.
Living room lighting
The primary purpose of the lounge is relaxation and socialising, so avoid having too much glare or your eyes won't get a chance to rest. You should also try use warm lighting, with a yellow rather than blue glow. You will need some task lighting near seating to enable you to read comfortably. A floor or table lamp positioned next to a sofa or armchair will create an inviting pool of light.
Lamps with opaque shades channel the light down to create contrast, whereas those with translucent shades diffuse the light in a gentler way. Accent lighting can help you to show off special ornaments, a painting or an alcove filled with eye-catching objects - simply direct a spotlight at a feature you want to highlight. Torchiers are a dramatic way to draw attention to a sculpture or architectural feature - just place a your floorstanding lights in corners or by a wall, with the light directed upwards towards the ceiling.
You need bright lighting to be able to cook safely and easily, but to create a softer and more welcoming atmosphere, you could use low wattage track lights or recessed spotlights. Where you need more intense light for cooking, use high wattage strip lights on the undersides of wall-mounted cabinets to illuminate the worksurface. If your kitchen features a central island or breakfast bar, install a bright light overhead as you may want to use this area to read the morning papers, open your mail or catch up on paperwork.
You can also make a decorative feature of this overhead lighting that compliments the rest of the kitchen. Depending on your kitchen style, you could opt for a colourful glass pendant lamp or a contemporary chrome spotlight arrangement. Highlight favourite pieces of crockery or glassware with accent lighting and, if you have glass cabinets, consider lighting them from the inside for effect.
Dining room lighting
A dining room should be bright enough so that you can see what you are eating, but you may also want softer lighting for a romantic meal, so a dimmer switch is ideal. A central light over the dining table will set the scene and create a focal point. You could opt for a pendant light or several if you have a particularly long table. Alternatively, a decorative chandelier, either contemporary or traditional, will create an interesting feature.
Track lighting or recessed spot lights are another option as they will allow you to space out the lights evenly and ensure that neither end of the table is left in shadow. Candles can also be used, both along the table and in wall mounted holders, to create a welcoming atmosphere for dinner parties.
A reading light on either side of the bed will mean you do not have to disturb your partner. Wall sconces on either side of a mirror will create a shadow-free light for putting on make-up. In a cramped bedroom, mirrors will bounce the light around making it appear larger, brighter and more open. If you are lucky enough to have a very large bedroom, use wall sconces to make the room feel cosier. If you have a dramatic bed you could highlight this with accent lighting behind the bedhead. A striking or elaborate central light is also a good way to set off your bedroom scheme, and it is the room in the house where you have the most freedom to express your personality, so be adventurous.