Lighten up!

Creative and practical lighting, if used effectively, can transform any room from a dull and plain affair to one that has style, grace and plenty of character.

Effective lighting creates atmosphere and can enhance the mood you are trying to achieve in a room. It will go a long way towards setting the scene, whether it be romantic, calm, practical or lively. That said, using lighting in a haphazard and thoughtless manner can have the opposite effect – in fact it can wreak havoc with a guest’s senses!

If you install good quality lighting, in a manner that has been thoroughly and thought fully planned, it will prove to be an investment for many years to come. As with all things to do with design and decorating, there is no accounting for personal taste, and each individual has different ideas on what works in their establishment. The following, however, are a few tips on what kind of things to look out for when planning your lighting, and what the effects can be. Remember to experiment! If you try something and you don’t like it, at least you’ll know for the future.

The first aspect to consider is that of natural lighting. Your décor will look different at different times of the day, and depending on the lighting you have installed, at night too. The point here is that lighting must compliment your décor, and be aware that although your décor may look great during the sunshine hours, if you don’t create a suitable effect with artificial lighting, it will look totally different at night.

An important factor regarding natural light, is the location of the building, and more specifically, of the room itself. East facing rooms will have a burst of sunlight in the morning, while the west facing room will catch the rays of the setting sun later in the afternoon. North facing rooms will be naturally lit and bright the whole day, while south facing rooms will be dark. Therefore, even during daylight hours, some rooms may need a lamp or a carefully placed light source just to brighten things up a bit, and always remember that your colour scheme also plays a role – use light colours in a room that is not naturally well-lit.

The architectural style of your establishment also impacts on how much natural light your rooms have. Older buildings or those that are built in a cottage style will have less natural light than newer buildings that have large windows emphasizing space and views. Each style has its own lighting requirements and problems, and don’t forget that these factors will change along with the seasons!

One simple and relatively inexpensive way to add more natural light to a room is to install a skylight, which will flood the space with light throughout the day. This is particularly effective in a dark passage, or a small room at the back of the building.

In the bedroom, lighting is more important than many people think. Here one should aspire to an atmosphere that creates warmth and the right environment for your guests to relax, rest and sleep in. This can be achieved by avoiding harsh lighting, especially from an overhead source. Rather go for bedside lamps with shades that diffuse the light. Reading lights should be installed in such a way that light is directed towards the reader’s book only, without disturbing anyone else in the bed who may be trying to sleep.

When you are planning lighting for your lounge, or other areas where your guests are likely to want to relax over a coffee or a scotch, then once again ‘relaxed’, ‘warm’ and ‘cosy’, are just some of the words to bear in mind. One way to create this type of effect is to have numerous sources of light, instead of just one overhead light. Mix wall mounted uplighters with tall lamps that have shades that spread the light. If there are any ornaments or artworks hanging on walls angle spotlights onto the pieces for added focus. For overhead lights in a lounge, install dimmers, which can adjust the light to whatever purpose it is needed for.

In your dining area, it is a good idea to have adequate light, not only so that people can read the menu, but so that they can see what they are eating. Here, a flat lighting effect will have the same effect on the presentation of your chef’s food – it will all look the same. Good lighting in the dining room will bring out the colours of the food and make it much more appetising!

To get a good idea of what’s available in terms of light fittings and styles, visit your nearest light fitting wholesaler or warehouse. You’ll be surprised at the vast array of types, styles and effects not only of the fittings themselves, but of the bulbs too Some of the different styles of lights and
lamps include decorative, crystal (chandeliers etc), pendant, wall, flush (with the ceiling), spot and recessed, and floor and table lights. Whatever inspires you, you will find something to suit any room, and maybe more importantly, to suit any budget.

With global warming becoming a serious issue, many people have started to become more environment-conscious. If used efficiently, you can reduce your electricity bill by keeping the following points in mind. If a room does not need to be lit extensively, use lower wattage bulbs. Also, turn off any lights that do not need to be on. Cleaner light fittings will allow more light to pass through, also allowing you to use a lower wattage bulb. Also, use light fittings that allow light to pass through, for example frosted glass shades. Some fittings can stop up to 50% of the light from shining through. Using CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) will lower your electricity consumption considerably, but many have criticised the bulbs for taking too long to get to their full brightness and for creating a cold light – use your discretion.

With all of this in mind, find some inspiration and shed some light on your décor matters. With just a little thought and planning, practical and creative lighting will enhance the features and décor of any room, and create the right atmosphere for your guests to enjoy their stay.