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How to nail your lighting choices room by room

This article was originally printed in the Your Home & Garden magazine. You can view it here.


How to illuminate your home for a brighter outlook – room by room 


Design, furniture, paint colours – these are all important aspects of successful interior design. However, they all rely on one thing to pull them together – lighting. And it’s not just the style of your lighting, but how much and what types of illumination you introduce into each space.
Without proper lighting a ‘moody’ living room simply appears dingy and a white bathroom, clinical instead of restful.

But above elevating the design of our interiors, lighting can influence how we feel in our homes. Federica Contardi, Citta’s national visual merchandiser, says, “Light has an important influence on our lives. It helps to regulate our days and our moods. When thinking about light, people often forget to consider the different times of the day and consequently, the intensity and colour of the lights.”

Lighting designer Laura Mitchell from Social Light agrees. “The key to creating successful lighting is to establish the right atmosphere. If you want your home to be relaxed and inviting, you’ll want to use the light to draw attention to areas of interest and where people should gather to achieve this.”

To ensure your lighting is delivering the best for your way of life, renovation consultant Jen Jones of Nine Yards Consulting says it should be planned as early as the concept stages. “Selections such as tile and bench choices impact the way colour is presented, i.e. reflected or absorbed, and if the right light isn’t specified, then it can end up being ineffective.”


Lighting by room

Of all the rooms in your house, the kitchen is one of the most important ones to get right when it comes to lighting. That’s because it’s a space you not only spend a lot of time in, but it’s where you should have proper illumination when chopping vegetables for dinner.

Laura suggests utilising as much natural light as you can in the kitchen and positioning task areas below it. “These areas will also need to be lit with overhead lighting, such as downlights, or lighting under overhead cupboards. Pendants are a great source of ambient and task lighting. Ensure they can be switched on and off separately from other task lighting to create a mood in the kitchen when no cooking is being done.”

Jen points out, “You want your light coming down in the kitchen, but not from behind, as it will create shadows over your work station and make it difficult to see.”


Laura says, “In the bedroom, you’ll want a ceiling light or a pendant in the centre of the room, then a wall sconce or a lamp either side of the bed.”

Jen adds, “Have these task lights on different circuits to your main light and make each one dimmable to create a restful atmosphere.”

For the bedroom, the wardrobe is where you will need really effective task lighting in order to see your clothing without strain. “If you’re hanging a full length mirror, have lights either side so they don’t cast shadows,” suggests Laura.

Living room

Lighting in the living room needs to be versatile to meet the different needs of the space at different times of the day. For this reason, dimmable lighting is always preferrable – especially when it’s movie night.

Downlights or a ceiling light is a good idea for general lighting, in addition to natural light, but be sure to layer this with wall lights or lamps around the room to create a cosy, welcoming atmosphere.


Like the kitchen, you want to maximise natural light as much as possible in the bathroom. But you’ll also want some downlights in the ceiling for general lighting and some wall sconces or pendant lights either side of your mirror.

Jen says, “Lights around your mirror should be in front of you, either side of the mirror, so as not to cast a shadow or unflattering light over your face.”

One thing to keep in mind about bathrooms is that they’re zoned, says Rachel. This means lighting for this space needs to have a suitable IP rated fitting. For those of us that aren’t electricians, an IP rating declares the level of protection that light has against water and dirt. IP44 means the light is protected against splashes of water.


Jen suggests, “In the hallway, wall washers might be more than enough as you only need to illuminate the path.” Also consider a statement pendant to provide a focal point in the small space.


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