Lighting your Home

General Decor Ideas

Lighting your home is as much about setting the mood as it is about functionality. Few rooms have only one function and creating the right atmosphere will often require a combination of different lighting.



You’ll need a good general light to make the hallway warm and welcoming.  Hallway lights can often be left burning for long periods, so consider using energy saving bulbs. Pendant lights can get in the way if the ceiling is low or the hall is narrow so consider wall lights or recessed downlights in this area. Chandeliers provide a central focus, even when switched off.



For safety reasons, staircases should be well lit and the light directed to define the edges of the steps. The simplest way to do this is to hang a bright pendant lamp at the top of the stairs which will create a shadow that adds definition to the stair risers. This is another area where you might want to consider using an energy saving bulb.



The living room is the focal point of the whole house where we carry out different activities which require different types of lighting. In general, you will need a combination of general overhead or wall lighting, supplemented by portable light sources such as table, task or floor lamps or even well–positioned ceiling spotlights. Task lamps are ideal for close–up work such as reading or studying.

To create a relaxed mood, you could use accent lighting hidden behind cornices, bookshelves and glassware displays. Alternatively, try highlighting pictures and paintings with a picture light. Plants and ornaments can also be highlighted with spotlights.

Uplighters are another source of accent lighting and are ideal for a dark corner. When watching television a soft ambient light is recommended as an aid to relaxed viewing.




Dining room lighting also needs to be flexible. It will be dominated by the light which provides focus for the table, usually hanging directly above it but you may also need additional wall lighting or portable lighting, especially to create a casual and convivial atmosphere when entertaining. A rise and fall lamp provides a practical way to light the table while a pendant light, armed light or chandelier can be used to provide a central focus, even when switched off.



Bathroom lighting needs to be functional and planned with safety in mind. The bathroom is divided into three zones, 0, 1 and 2, to determine likely exposure to water. Each fitting is given an IP (Ingress Protection) rating which relates to its water resistance. Only light fittings suitable for the relevant zone should be used. Avoid lighting which is too bright as the polished surfaces may cause glare; diffused wall or ceiling lights are a good idea. The main light should be switched on by a pull cord or a light switch situated outside the bathroom. Glass or ceramic lights are best. It is wise to avoid those containing wood, leather or fabric as they can degrade in a humid atmosphere.



The kitchen is the functional work centre of the house composed of largely fixed elements and you will need to plan the lighting in relation to the positions of work surfaces and appliances. A good level of general light will be given by fluorescent lights, directional spotlights or track lighting with a number of movable spotlights, while two or three recessed downlighters in a line can be used to highlight a breakfast bar. Avoid portable lighting in this area as trailing flexes can be potentially hazardous. 




Many bedrooms contain televisions and computers and lighting should be planned around these. If you read in bed, you will need table lamps, directional spotlights or swing arm brackets. For applying make up you will need a table lamp or may want to consider an illuminated mirror. You may need a task lamp if your bedroom doubles up as a study. The bedroom is also an ideal place to install dimmer switches to adjust the light levels for various moods and times of the day. Spotlights directed towards wardrobes can help when selecting clothes. Chandeliers can add a focal point and a touch of glamour too.


Children's rooms

Lighting for children’s rooms should be safe, bright and colourful. Bright, general lighting will be needed for children playing on the floor plus a task lamp for older children needing to do homework. Use as many wall and ceiling fittings as you can (these are safe from little fingers) and do not use low hanging pendants or clip spotlights for younger children. It is advisable to fit childproof safety plugs into wall switch sockets. Dimmer switches or plug in nightlights are the time–tested solution for a child who is afraid of the dark. 


Home Offices

Use good general lighting supplemented by task lamps. Avoid headaches when using a PC by blocking out sunlight effectively with curtains and using uplighters to provide soft, general light.



Lastly, don’t forget you can create a relaxing mood almost anywhere in the home by using candles. Be sure always to sit them on a heat resistant surface, away from draughts and never leave them unattended. Always follow any instructions or warnings on the product.