Trip the light fantastic

As I go through this journey, the one thing I’m genuinely concerned about is … lighting. It seems so much more final than wall paint. So much more fixed than a sofa. Do I want a pendant light in the living room or downlights? What about dimmers? Do I want to showcase a piece of art? And if so, what lights are best for doing that? More concerning, when looking online, do you know if the lights will look nice in your space? How can you tell if they are high quality?

But instead of panicking, I’ve started to do a bit of research (which I’m sharing below, so you can also avoid the pit in your stomach that I currently feel). First off… think about the position of your room and the natural light it gets throughout the day. You want to leverage that light and plan artificial lighting that compliments your room. From the professionals, a few pointers below:

  • North facing: cold and harsh rather than direct sunlight. Artists choose north-facing studios because the light gives truer color rendition.
  • East facing: bright first thing in the morning followed by long shadows and no sun later in the day. Use artificial lighting to control glare and maximise the available natural light in a north and east-facing rooms.
  • South facing: warm light all day, although it changes throughout the day and year. The midday sun is usually so bright it flattens everything out. Choose south-facing rooms for the kitchen, main living areas and other rooms you spend a lot of time in.
  • West facing: sunlight at the hottest part of the day, which can cause glare. In the late afternoon, you’ll get long shadows and softer light.

Applying the above, this East facing kitchen is an example of a space that benefits from great natural light in the morning. What makes the space compelling (other than its obvious size), is the focus on bringing the natural light indoors by adding windows where possible.

For those of us that can’t drop a mortgage down payment on an extension and bi-fold doors, the artificial light still plays an excellent role in adding soft light to the space.  The downlights in the middle of the room are subtle, while the spot lights along the kitchen wall highlights the cabinets and splash back. LED lighting under the cabinets would add a bit of soft light in the evening when the other lights are turned down or off.

Next up in my exploration of lighting is… thinking about a lighting plan! Stay tuned…

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