Five bright ideas for your home’s lighting

It is easy to criticize other people’s attempts to furnish, decorate or adorn a home. If you’re taking it over from a previous owner or tenant, the chances are the phrase “weird idea” will flash through your mind, because you don’t know the rationale behind certain things they did. And if it’s a new build, the builders are just getting the job done and making sure it’s liveable Then it’s over to the creative genius who moves in, i.e. you.

But what if you’re not a creative genius? Most of us aren’t. We are probably expert to a certain degree in what we do, be that driving a truck or cutting hair, but not interior design.

Doing up a new home is a challenge, but we want it to be a happy challenge with a good outcome that has visitors saying, “Wow, I like that.”

Given that it is outside our own sphere of expertise, some basic expert advice is called for, and on various subjects. As regards today’s theme, lighting, you could do a lot worse than consulting a detailed guide for lamp shopping.

But if you want five key points to get you started, here we go.

  1. Welcome
    You know that feeling when you walk into a hotel room for the first time and can’t find the light switch, and when you do find it the place is still gloomy? You’re going to be entering your own place hundreds of times, so make sure it welcomes you and makes your life easy. Okay, it may only be a hallway full of coats, boots etc, but at least it can be bright and practical. If the fixed lighting doesn’t do the job, you may want to put up a small lamp on the wall or ceiling – and make it a nice one, because it’s going to be the first thing your visitors see. Sleek and modern, ornate and warm, the choice is yours, but make sure it sets the tone for the rest of your treasured living space.
  2. Bring the living room to life
    As noted above, the builders’ job is to make sure there is light in the room. Any builder or electrician worth his salt will want to make it as good as possible, but they’re not mind-readers. They don’t even know what furniture you’re going to put where, let alone the style of that furniture.

    It’s up to you to make the lighting complement the furniture and draw attention to the parts of a room you’re proud of. If you’ve got an arty corner with a couple of nice paintings and an antique balalaika having on the wall, you want people to notice those things. A tall, elegant standard lamp might do the job.
    A bookshelf that also contains your favourite DVDs. That’s interesting for other people and from your own point of view, you want to be able to find what you’re looking for. So make sure there’s enough light in that area, whether that be spotlights or an extendable single lamp fixed to the wall which can be pulled out and pointed as required.

    If you have a desk, be it in the main room or in a small office, get yourself a lamp on there that makes that side of your life easier.

  3. Task lights in the kitchen

    The kitchen is an important room, particularly if you love cooking and entertaining. If you’re lucky enough to have a big kitchen-diner, pay attention to individual areas. The preparation areas, for instance, need to be well illuminated so you can see what you’re doing when chopping onions or picking out little stray bits of grit while you prepare to cook lentils.

    If your specialty is picking up the phone and ordering in, this might not be so much of an issue, but you still want the room to have a nice ambience. This is especially important if you have a dining table in there. In many homes the kitchen is the focal point of the home, the place where people base themselves during the day. And when it comes to mealtimes, whether you’re serving up pizza or your own latest masterpiece, gleaned from a cooking show with your unique twist, the lighting can do a lot to create a sense of intimacy. Get the electrician to remove those ugly fluorescent tubes and install a farm-style terracotta lamp that can be pulled down to bring together your guests, your food and yourself.

    That applies equally if you have a separate dining room, because those tend to be cool, rather neglected places that only rarely get their moment at centre stage. So, again, make your lighting focus on the purpose of the exercise and create a warm, friendly atmosphere.

  4. Make the bathroom work for you
    There is a reason why theater dressing rooms have those bulbs all around the mirror. It’s so people can see exactly how they look, blemishes and all. You don’t have to have all those separate light sources, but make sure you at least have a lamp close enough and at the right height. Then, when the assistant calls through the door, “You’re on!”, you know what visage you’re presenting to the world.
  5. Make your bedroom multifunctional
    The bedroom has several functions, so it’s important to cover all the bases. It’s your refuge from a sometimes hostile world. It’s the place where you recharge you batteries. And, as the 19th century English actress Mrs Patrick Campbell once remarked, the bedroom  offers “the deep, deep peace of the double bed after the hurly burly of the chaise longue.” Whether that really describes romantic life for most of us is open to question, but looked at from a purely practical point of view, the lighting needs to be bright enough for reading, but with the option of making it a soft and cuddly place, so bedside lamps are pretty well obligatory here. It is not known, by the way, what happened to Mrs C’s chaise longue, but it may well still exist in a junk shop in Paris. And you may or may not want to sit on it.

So, that covers most of the rooms in most people’s living space. Five simple steps that can transform your home. Enjoy your lamp-hunting and if you have any tales of revelation or misadventure on the way, why not tell us about it in a comment?