Light is central to our lives and can have a huge impact on our day-to-day mood. While we have little control over natural illumination, we can find artificial lighting solutions that make a huge difference to our homes.
Poor quality lighting is often not noticeable at first, but it can lead to adverse effects over time. Not only can low quality lights cause physical ailments, such as eye strain and headaches, these items can also impede normal daily routines, resulting in frustration and irritation. Mirror reflections and the appearance of colours can also become distorted.
The best lighting solutions can completely transform a home, making it appear bright, spacious and welcoming. Built-in flexible controls can also help match your needs.
A little planning makes all the difference when it comes to household lighting solutions, so it’s worth taking time to note down every room space set-up. This will help you to identify the potential for different types of lighting, as well as enabling you to detect where current lighting is not performing. With the plan in place, it’s then simply a question of identifying the best quality lighting solutions for your every need.
LED lighting is the perfect answer if you’re after flexible, high quality and energy-saving illumination. From pendant and sidelight bulbs to spotlights, downlights, strip lights, capsules and more, LED lighting comes in a variety of forms and provides an extensive range of brightness, colour and intensity options, ranging from warm to crisp.
The different effects that LED lights provide are amplified through intelligent controls. There are now LED bulbs, including the Smart Lighting range from Samsung, that are connected to the internet, allowing people to control light intensity through their mobile phone or tablet.
The main lighting source in most household rooms is the central pendant light, which provides ambient or background illumination. This functional fitting is actually a bit of a historical throwback to the days of gas lighting, and actually is often a source of problems because it tends to throw out a flattening light which can be unpleasing to the eye.
However, that’s not to advocate removing this mainstay. The pendant fitting works well enough for basic illumination and orientation, but homeowners can also fit a range of ambient lighting products, including downlights, spotlights, up-lighters, ceiling bowls, wall lights and even standard lamps to give the room a more appealing overall appearance.
Accent lighting can also be used to add texture, depth and shade. For example, LED lamps on a track system are a popular and very effective solution. Track LED lamps can also be positioned to highlight wall objects like a picture or favourite piece of decoration.
Any glass in the room can be lit from behind or from below, using warm illumination LED bulbs, capsules or perhaps LED strips. If a picture is framed with glass, extra care needs to be taken to avoid severe glare, and this can be achieved by positioning the spotlight above, to the side or below the item. Bookshelves and other furniture can be highlighted with spotlights, either on the ceiling track or fixed to the wall.
When illuminating plants, it’s essential to check what light environment is needed. For large, floor plants, it’s a good idea to bounce light from an LED spotlight off the floor to diffuse the light. Where possible, most plants will benefit from indirect lighting.
Along with ambient and accent illumination, task lighting is also important. This form of lighting is used to help with a specific activity, such as cooking, reading, working on a laptop or PC, drawing or sewing. For many tasks, a cantilever lamp with LED bulb is perfect as it gives flexibility and control. Other options often include “pull-down” pendants or clip-on lamp fittings. Whatever fitting is chosen, it’s a good idea to ensure that the task light delivers more powerful illumination than other light sources in the room.
There are social occasions when all three lighting elements can be brought together, such as having guests round for a meal. Manipulating the brightness of the main light while using accent and ambient lighting can create a feeling of warmth and intimacy that is useful for dinner parties. Depending on the occasion, the use of LED colour lights can also add to the sense of fun and festivities and there are a range of sparkling LED candle lights that enhance any party room.
Furthermore, homeowners can use tricks of light to make a room seem larger. Adding wall washers and uplighters with suitable LED bulbs can brighten a white ceiling or light-shaded walls. A room also appears larger when all four corners are lit and deploying panels of light at one end can lengthen the space. Similarly, using LED lamps that throw up a vertical light, or making sure that pendant LED bulbs are hung low, can help to give the impression of a taller room space.
Lighting is always a balancing act and it’s important to find a balance between clarity and cosiness, depending on your needs and preferences. It’s always worth discussing lighting needs with an expert supplier who can help you to make the best choices and ensure you avoid low quality solutions.
Mark Sait is the managing director of SaveMoneyCutCarbon.com, a full-service efficiency partner, helping businesses and households reduce energy and water consumption and cut carbon emissions to improve sustainability.