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The light touch

Top tips from our designer

Light is as important as colour to consider in your
home’s design. Light can change a room completely,
adding atmosphere and making it feel cosy and
welcoming. Different rooms in your home need different
treatments so you’ll need to consider the purpose of the
room first. Once you are sure that the lighting is sufficient for the required task, you can add the finishing touches that will make the room come alive.

Fionnuala Johnston, Design Co-ordinator

There are four types of lighting:
  • Ambient light for general illumination within a room. Different rooms will require different levels of ambient light.
  • Task lighting, which is directed and functional and is often provided by desk or bedside lamps. In a kitchen task lighting can help to eliminate shadow on worktops, making it a safer place to work.
  • Accent lighting, which is directed but decorative, for example a narrow beam to illuminate and draw attention to a painting or sculpture.
  • Mood lighting often uses lower light levels or colour to create an ambience. This can look very effective if combined with accent lighting.

Around your home

Living Room

Your living room is a diverse space and is likely to cater for people doing lots of different things such as reading, watching TV, entertaining and playing. To reflect this diverse space you are likely to need a range of lighting solutions.

Diffused light in overhead fittings will illuminate the whole room. Places requiring extra light, like favourite reading spots or special pictures, will benefit from additional directional lighting, like spot lights or reading and table lamps.

Dining room

You’ll probably want your dining room to have a warm, easy going atmosphere that encourages you to linger over your Sunday lunch. Clever lighting can do just that.

A soft light over the table is always a good idea. Show off any interesting features in your dining room with accent lighting and use pastel coloured bulbs to soften the atmosphere and make the most of your colour scheme.


Your bedroom should be a cosy place that you can’t wait to curl up in.

Soft light is key so you’ll be best off using recessed spotlights, wall lights and table lamps. Freestanding uplighters also work well but these should probably be avoided in kids’ rooms, where they can be a bit of a hazard! If you’re a bookworm who enjoys turning pages late into the night, remember to place a reading lamp on your bedside table and to ensure you look your best a lamp on the dressing table is also recommended .

Hallway and stairs

Welcome visitors into your home with a warm glow from table and standard lamps or wall lights in your hallway. For safety reasons always make sure the stairs are well lit.


Sharp knives, hot pans and impossibly small cooking instructions mean that good kitchen lighting is essential.

Aim spotlights at the areas you use the most – like the hob, sink or chopping areas. Fitting lights under wall cabinets is a handy way to light up work surfaces without cluttering them.


You need to think carefully when you’re choosing lights for the damp environment of a bathroom .

It’s always best to fit moisture proof, sealed light fittings and ceiling-mounted pull chord switches. If you want a wall-mounted switch then make sure it’s outside the room. Always check that any light fitting you install is suitable for the place you are putting it in. Make sure you read the instructions and, if you’re in any doubt at all, get advice from a qualified electrician.

Making the most of light

The most energy efficient way to improve your home’s lighting is to make the most of natural light. Maximising natural light is especially important for rooms that are used during the day.

Positioning mirrors opposite windows bounces natural daylight into a room. Keeping your windows clean can also make a big difference. White windowsills and frames can help to reflect daylight into a room.

Choose lighter colours in smaller rooms and those used mainly during the day as dark colours can absorb nearly 90% of light. In contrast light colours can reflect over 80%.

Shiny surfaces reflect light and can bounce more daylight into a room. Silk paint, gloss kitchen doors, glass splashbacks, shiny tiles…

The Velux Sun Tunnel is an ingenious way to bring sunlight into rooms with few or no windows. It acts as a pipe, bringing the light that hits your roof into the areas of your home that need brightening the most. This way of delivering natural light is ideal for ensuite bathrooms or dark landings and the best thing is that once it’s installed it’s free!