Design Rules

The 12 Best Lighting Design Rules

25th August 2015
lighting design rules

A well lit space is something that you will notice immediately when entering it.  A great lighting scheme will complement the interior design and the architectural features of the space. It will also make the space more practical to use.

I agree with designers who say that lighting design is one of the most important elements in interior design. It takes a long time to design a space, and by using good lighting, you are able to show off and enhance the design.  You can also, with the flick of a switch, control the mood of the space, from bright to dim or vice versa.

Lighting interiors isn’t only about the electrical lights in the space. Controlling the natural light coming into the room is also an important factor to think about.  As we will see below, this can be done by using specific materials in the room.

Find out about my Interior Design Service where I can help you with your lighting design and more.

The 12 Best Lighting Design Rules

Well, maybe not rules, but guidelines to help you to light your space.

  • Think about the daylight that your home gets.  How does it change throughout the day and the seasons?  Do you need specific lighting to make the room more usable in different seasons or time of day, what strength do these lights need to be?
  • Generally, north and east facing windows require you to maximise the quality and quantity of daylight, eg:
    • by not having heavy window treatments and making sure the light can get as far into the room as possible,
    • you could also use mirrors to help reflect light around the room.
  • South or west facing windows benefit from devices to control light, eg:
    • use blinds or screens in front of the window to diffuse the light,
    • matt walls and fabrics will help to ‘absorb’ the light.
  • Artificial lighting tends to either have a red and yellow or blue and green emphasis. Choose the spectrum that suits the room and how you want to use it..
  • Not getting enough daylight in the Winter makes us vulnerable to lethargy.  Maximise natural daylight by letting more light through the windows.  Don’t block windows with large window treatments.
  • If windows are affected by uncomfortable glare, find ways of controlling the natural levels of sunlight. You could use a film on the window or sheer window treatments.
  • Think of lighting in terms of three categories:
    • General – for background illumination
    • Accent – to draw attention to particular features
    • Task lighting – to illuminate particular activities
  • A lighting scheme should be planned around the architectural features in the space and how the space is to be used. Create a balance between the three lighting categories, general, accent and task lighting. The best lighting schemes will offer plenty of flexibility to allow for multi-purpose functions and to create visual texture, so aim to use these three types of lighting.
  • In small rooms, aim to light all four corners to make the space seem bigger and use lights with vertical beams to increase the perception of height.
  • Decide on your lighting scheme before you start decorating, so you can plan the position of plugs, switches and wall, floor and ceiling lights.
  • Choose bulbs for artificial lighting according to the requirements of the room and the mood you would like to create: red and yellow tinted light will create an intimate, warm mood and blue and green tinted light will create a cooler, serene mood.
  • The materials used in light fittings (from transparent to opaque and reflective to matte) and the opaqueness or clarity of the bulb will dramatically affect the distribution and direction of light.

There are so many types of bulbs to try in your homes. The best thing to do is to go down to your local lighting specialist and have a chat with them. Take in pictures of your space and show them where your lights are placed in the room.

Using lamps and little portable uplighters are a quick and easy way to change your lighting design. Try them in different places in your space and see how you feel, you’ll eventually settle on the right position for you.

Find out about my Interior Design Service where I can help you with your lighting design and more.

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