Homes that make the most of the natural light available always win at lighting. There’s an uplifting energy to natural light that connects you to the elements and boosts what you do. And having a lighting scheme in your home that’s centred around natural light, brings instant benefits: it can boost vitamin D, improve sleep, warn off SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and enhance the experience of whatever you’re doing throughout the day. A flickering light can even trick your body into feeling warmer.
There are ways to make the most of whatever light you have naturally and create a scheme that’s both beautiful and functional for any type of home. It’s more about thinking than spending. Start by really looking at your home, over the course of a few days. Here are some key principles to steer your day in the right direction.
Principles of light
Where does the natural light live in your home?
And what are you doing in those rooms to make the most of it? If it’s work or study, you’re in the right place. As day becomes evening, layer the lighting to include warm, low-level desk lights to ease you towards the end of the day.
If you have natural light streaming into a barely used space, storage area or bathroom, you might consider changing the room’s function
Where does the light fail to reach?
These spaces are best suited to computer work and gaming, or functions that don’t require too much presence, for example, the bathroom, utility or even a lounge: a space that can be cosied up nicely with layers of light: mixing wall, desk and pendant.
Quick hack - a mirror placed near a window can also refract more light into the space.
Is there a dip in the middle?
Multi-functional areas like kitchen-diners almost design themselves as we need strong overhead lighting in the kitchen as a major work area, then softer, lower lighting in the dining area for when eating and looking at other faces.
It’s common with larger reception rooms to have a lighting ‘dip’ in the middle section of the room. But it’s ok. Good lighting design is as much about what you leave out as what you put in. That dip in the middle allows the kitchen and the diner to be emphasised, and if it's a much-used area, you could always go for a wall light for balance. Maybe you want to highlight artwork or just a great corner. Low-glare directional downlights can be effective without losing the intimacy of the space.
In seated areas, use centre overhead lights sparingly, they’re hard to make work as they can be sparse and unflattering, whereas softer, warmer lights make what you have to discuss feel less interrogational.
Lighting in kitchens
Overhead lighting is essential in some form, but it’s often the case that we end up standing in our own light, casting a shadow on what we’re chopping. So back up your overheads or spots, with some task lighting over a kitchen worktop or underneath cupboards. You can’t have too much lighting in the kitchen, but the best schemes are those which give you options depending on what you’re doing, for example, popping to the kitchen during the night for a warm drink is better lit by a small light than Wembley Stadium like spots.
In the summer floor and table lamps play more of a decorative role, but in the winter, they can transform a space. Use lights of different kinds and position them in a variety of areas, to support whatever action is taking place in the room.
Layering your lighting scheme is to mix types of lighting, practical, statement, soft and bold and creating texture with different materials like salt block, stone, rattan, translucent fabric to filter out any sharp lighting and rich colours to emphasise the glow and create pockets of warmth around the room.
Getting even cosier
Have you ever noticed that the conversation often changes at the point you light a candle? Candles are evocative, unpredictable by nature and set the tone perfectly for a more intimate chat, also to clear the air and set a good energy. It’s why they’re often used as a therapeutic tool in spas. Have some glass or chrome nearby to maximise the twinkle.
The garden can look cosy too. Illuminate evergreens and architectural features in the garden with a little lighting. Less is more. It connects our homes with our gardens, creates interest and makes the view from the windowless inky. For more on garden lighting, see our previous blogs here and here.
Enjoy applying your principles of light in your home and if you action just one point as a result of reading this blog it’s this: clean the windows. Seriously! It makes a massive difference to your daylight.
Estates East Team
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