Consider the room
Before you head out to the local DIY store, it's essential to consider the room itself. How much natural light enters the room will play an important role. While a sunny, south-facing living room may be flooded with daylight much of the year round, that north-facing spare bedroom may require a bolder lighting approach. Also look at features or work areas that would benefit from specific mood or task lighting. With your room in mind, you will be better placed to find the perfect solution, both practical and atmospheric.
As the room where many of us spend much of their time, the living room requires a combination of functional and mood lighting. A ceiling pendant or recessed downlighters are great if you want a brightly-lit room, but often a softer approach is required. Table or standard lamps that throw the light upwards can help to achieve a cosy glow, while accent lights can add visual interest by highlighting a stylish piece of furniture, ornament or painting.
As a place that is generally used for entertainment, the dining room requires overhead lighting that enables dinner guests to see each other, but come coffee time, a little mood lighting goes a long way. Track lights or a pendant directly over a feature dining table are ideal for conversation, but try uplighters or standard lamps for an ambient after dinner light.
Task lighting is a must in the kitchen to ensure that work surfaces are well-lit. Under-cupboard lights do just that, while track lighting of recessed ceiling spotlights can also help to highlight particular areas for utilitarian purposes. If your kitchen is also the social hub of the house, consider wall lights or halogen spotlights, perhaps with a dimmer to soften the clinical feel.
Much like the kitchen, a pendant or downlights are a must for what is often the room with the least amount of natural light. But halogen spotlights focused on the shower, or basin can soften the brightness - particularly useful if you tend to use an ensuite during the night! There are plenty of bathroom mirrors with lights inbuilt on the market, which are great if you spend a lot of time primping and preening, while a dimmer switch can set the tone for that all-important long, luxurious bubble bath.
The bedroom requires both atmosphere and practicality. While you don't want to be stumbling about in the night, you won't want to wake your partner either. Well placed, a down light or floor lamp offers a pool of light that shouldn't disturb the sleeping partner, while bedside lamps are a must if you're a night time reader. Light bulbs in softer colours will create a more peaceful atmosphere.
It is essential to get the lighting in your home office right. A ceiling light, wall light or bright floor lamp will provide a strong general light source but an adjustable desk lamp is also a must. And for those using a computer, look after your eyes by illuminating the area behind the screen, while ensuring that the other lights in the room aren't reflected in the monitor.