Lighting is one of the easiest and most effective ways to add ambience, mood and interest to any space. The right lighting scheme can lift you up, raise your spirits and make you feel energised. On the flip side, it can generate calm and peacefulness, encourage you to take rest, and make you feel deeply relaxed. How cool is that?
Hand forged and smithed pendants are one of the most enjoyable things to search for on our travels. I can immediately visualise how a pendant, lamp or sconce will look in a space, and once I do, I just have to bring that piece home.
Lighting can be deeply personal because you use it to support your lifestyle and sustain your personality. It needs to tell the story of a space and enhance its purpose. In your home, light can enliven the little things like your morning routine, or the time spent with loved ones over coffee or a delicious meal. In a retail space it can be used to highlight and draw your customers’ eye to select products. In an office or studio, it can enhance creativity, positivity and productivity. That is the power of lighting.
It can be confusing to know which functional overhead lighting and any decorative accents will work in your space. Finding and choosing the right lighting can take meticulous planning, measuring (and then measuring again), and even professional installation. So, to take out the guesswork for you, I have gathered together my tried and tested tips and tricks for effectively lighting a room to enhance its mood, purpose and design. Now all you need to do is sit back, relax and let there be light!
Playing with scale
Have you ever walked into someone’s home and been greeted by a beautiful, show-stopping pendant light? In my opinion, you should never be afraid to play with scale when it comes to your lighting, particularly when it comes to lamps and hanging lights.
Carefully consider your space and whether you can go big and bold with your pendant choice, especially if your home has high ceilings or an open plan layout. In fact, even in smaller, cosier spaces, like in a formal dining room or a guest bedroom, you can make an incredible impact with oversized, artful lighting.
Also, be aware that pendants, sconces and lamps always look different in lighting shops to how they will look in your home. If they seem too large in store, it might be because of the other products they are displayed next to and the overwhelming number of lightbulbs! In my experience, chances are it will look incredible in your home when your chosen pendant becomes the sole focal point and is not getting lost in the ‘noise’ of a shop.
For any hanging pendant lights, it is important to measure, measure and measure some more, and consider your ceiling height. You don’t want your guests (or customers) to knock their head on a low-hanging pendant or feel like they can’t relax or move freely in a space.
Image courtesy of Leanne Ford, The Little Cabin Project
More is more
If one pendant looks fantastic in your space, does that mean a few more might look even better? While not suitable for every space, it is possible to group together multiple hanging pendants at different heights in the same vein as a traditional chandelier. This will add incredible dynamism to your space! However, if you employ this technique in the wrong space, you run the risk of feeling cluttered and cramped underneath them.
Another way to play with the notion of ‘more’ is to add multiple different sources and types of light in any one space. In my opinion, the best lit rooms have two or three different sources of light shining from different heights. So, for instance, you might have dimmable recessed lighting overhead, with a floor lamp in one corner and a decorative pendant hanging high above a chaise lounge in another. The options are endless and completely dependent on your unique space.
Image courtesy of Athena Calderone
Form, colour and tone
The next thing to consider is the form, colour and tone of your lighting choice. It is important to use tones and colours that enrich your space. Keep in mind, that this can be achieved by adding contrast, sharp lines and bold colours if that is your personal style. My approach, however, is to keep the tones natural and complementary. Consider the other feature items in a room like rugs, sofas, wall colour and pair (or contrast) your lighting to those to suit your unique style.
Lighting is the best way to affect the mood of a space and impact the tasks performed in a room.
Take, for instance, the kitchen. The lighting must be clear and bright to help you whip up delicious meals, scour cookbooks or even have the kids complete their homework at the island bench.
Then, consider the living room. The lighting in there can be warm, calm and moody while you cuddle up on the sofa watching your favourite show.
The best way to achieve instant ambience, in my opinion, is through dimmers. Dimmers should be on all overhead lighting as a rule. But, being able to dim floor and table lamps, pendants and sconces means you can completely tailor your lighting to your mood, occasion or time of day. If, perhaps, you are in a space that can’t have dimmable lights, you can achieve a similar effect by completely turning off your overhead lighting in the evening and switching on lamps instead. And, for extra ambience, I love to light a candle.
Image courtesy of Athena Calderone
It’s all in the details
When it comes to lighting, it’s not just about the fixture. It’s important to pay attention to the cord, the canopy and the lightbulb, too. Make sure the lightbulb, especially, is just as beautiful as the rest of the piece and if your bulb is visible, opt for a decorative one. There are many eco-friendly, LED options out there that mimic those beautiful vintage Edison globes that we all know and love.
Function and space
Each room in your home has a different function, so requires different lighting. And, consider how you actually exist in that room. For instance, your bedroom calls for an easily accessible “lights out” moment, where you want to reach for a switch from the warmth and comfort of your bed. So, bedside sconces or dimmable table lamps could be the way to go in this circumstance.
Another thing to consider is the shape of your space along with its function. For instance, you may want to create warmth and ambience in your living space by adding a lamp, but you might not have enough space to place a table without the room looking cluttered. In these spaces a floor lamp is definitely your best bet.
Image courtesy of Abbie Melle at Worrowing Cottage
Like I said, lighting can and should be deeply personal like everything else in your home. The tips and tricks outlined above are intended as a guide to assist you on your lighting journey. Take what resonates with you, and leave behind what doesn’t. Let your lighting choices add to the story of you and your home, and wherever possible, make it beautiful.