Lighting buying guide
The right type of lighting can transform a room from gloomy to gorgeous. From statement-making chandeliers and subtle spotlights to cool pendants and novelty night lights, there’s a mind-boggling number of options out there. So follow our illuminating guide and we’ll help you enhance every room of your home at the flick of a switch.
Know your lighting
If you want to create lighting that’s both attractive and efficient, you need to think about three main ‘layers’ of illumination.
- Ambient Lighting provides background illumination. Use paper, glass or plastic shades to help diffuse the light.
- Task Lighting illuminates areas for reading, sewing etc. Solid or opaque shades can help focus the light.
- Accent Lighting gives depth and texture to the room by highlighting features such as plants, pictures and ornaments.
Room by room
Each area of your home has different lighting needs. Think about the ways you use each space and adapt your lighting to fit.
Halls, landings and staircases
Pendant lights are a good choice for these areas, providing a warm light that’s welcoming to visitors and bright enough to prevent accidents on stairs. If space is tight and pendant lights prove a bit of an obstacle, wall lights or recessed down lights are a good ambient alternative. And think about installing dimmer switches or plug-in night lights if you need low-level lighting at night.
You’ll need a few different types of lighting here and the ambient or background lighting is a good place to start. The soft light of an overhead- or wall light creates a relaxed mood that’s ideal for watching TV. Add accent lighting such as plug-in table lamps, picture lights or spot lights to highlight a favourite ornament and finish with task lighting. A well-positioned floor lamp can provide a pool of light to read by, or choose an angled light for more an adjustable option.
Use lighting to draw attention to the focus of this room – the table. Rise and fall pendant lamps are a practical choice as they can be pulled down during a meal and moved out of the way afterwards. But for a more ornate look it’s hard to beat a pretty chandelier which adds a touch of glamour whether it’s switched on or off. Extra wall lights give useful background lighting while accent lighting is easily added with a few plug-in lamps.
Practicality and safety are the keys to good bathroom lighting. As we all know, water and electricity don’t mix, so lights for the bathroom need special protection from moisture. This is indicated with an IP (Ingress Protection) rating which is made up of two digits. The higher the number, the more protection it offers.
The first digit refers to the extent to which the light is protected from anything getting inside it and ranges from ‘0’ for no special protection to ‘6’ indicating that the light is dust-tight.
The second digit refers to the amount of moisture the light can withstand. It ranges from ‘0’ for no special protection to ‘8’ indicating complete protection from total submersion in water.
Bathroom lights need a minimum IP44 rating, meaning nothing larger than 1mm can get inside the light and it’s safe from water splashes.
To keep things absolutely safe, the bathroom is divided into zones based on the amount of water it will come into contact with, as shown below. Our bathroom lights are designed to be used in zones 2 and 3 and should only be used in these areas.
For safety reasons the main bathroom light must be switched on with a pull cord or a via a light switch located outside the bathroom. Specially designed task lighting, such as shaving lights are also usually pull cord operated.
Today’s modern kitchen is a place to eat, socialise and of course, cook. Task lighting is important for food preparation but trailing flexes can be dangerous, so go for directional spot lights or a strip fixed above the worktop rather than table lamps. In larger kitchens, there’s an increasing trend of introducing statement-making lights, including chandeliers. Or why not try a welcoming row of pendant lights hung over a breakfast bar to help define the area?
There’s no legal requirement for kitchen lighting to meet any IP rating (see above), but some lights are bound to come into contact with steam from the hob, so make sure you consult a qualified electrician for professional advice.
Relaxation is key in a bedroom setting and dimmer switches are a brilliant idea, allowing you to maximise light on gloomy mornings and create a more subdued mood in the evening. If you want to create a feminine boudoir, choose a chandelier for your ambient lighting. Wall-mounted uplighters are a minimalist option, or you could compromise with a pendant light fitted with a light-diffusing shade.
Task lighting is also important in the bedroom. Avoid harsh shadows by lighting your dressing table from both sides and install lights inside your wardrobe to take the guess work out of choosing your outfit.
For a final hit of hotel chic, fit matching directional reading lamps on either side of the bed and you’ll end your day in perfect symmetry.
Ambient lighting is usually fairly bright in children’s room – wall and ceiling fittings are safe and practical choice, but avoid low-hanging pendants which can cause accidents. Older children who have a desk for homework will probably need a lamp, but make sure you tuck away any trailing wires. You might consider mood lighting in a child’s room and dimmers are very useful if your little ones are afraid of the dark. Alternatively try a plug-in night light – look for models that stay cool to the touch when in use. Use childproof plug covers for sockets that are not in use.