Home lighting - how to get it right

Caroline Cassidy

The right lighting can create a feeling of space or give your home a cosy atmosphere for the winter months ahead. Here are a few tips to help get you started...

table lamp
table lamp

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Lighting in the living room
To create a warm and cosy atmosphere it's usually best to avoid a single central source of light. Table lamps, placed around the room, can help to soften the light and create interest by adding pools of light.

Wall lights have the advantage of making a room seem bigger and can add visual interest to plain walls. Consider using accent spot lights with a directional beam to pick out a favourite picture, ornament or even a designer chair. Pools of overlapping light used to illuminate paintings or photographs can look stunning on larger walls or hallways.

Of course, there will be times when you need to raise the level of light in the room - adding a dimmer switch to your central light means you can illuminate whilst maintaining the perfect ambiance. And, if you are the modern, minimalist type, up-lighting is relatively cheap to install and can instantly transform a space.

Lighting in the kitchen
The kitchen is often the hub of the home but lighting needs to be practical. Those charming fluorescent tubes have never been terribly attractive but placed underneath wall mounted units, they provide good lighting for work areas. A good central source of light is also a must but track lighting proves particularly useful if you're looking to highlight certain areas. If you are looking to soften the room a little, halogen spotlights or recessed lighting on the wall or ceiling add a warmer accent.

Lighting in the bedroom
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.

Lighting in the dining room
If you do a lot of entertaining you'll want a dining room with a wow factor. A light source directly over the dining table creates a focal point and you can afford to go mad with a chandlier (with dimmer for ambiance, of course). This is one room where you should go for a statement piece.

Lighting in the office
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.

If you know what you are after, the big DIY stores are great for low-cost lighting, but for the more unusual items a department store such as John Lewis, or independent high street shops might be a better option.