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Lighting Techniques for your Home

With electricity costs on the rise, many of us are looking for ways to reduce our home energy usage. When the phase-out of incandescent lamps first began, many people rushed out and swapped over the globes (lamps) in their existing fittings to compact fluorescent options, only to find that their home suddenly had all the evening atmosphere of the city morgue.

It is possible to create atmospheric and desirable lighting design outcomes with low energy lighting options - the key is in the design approach and selection of lamps and light fittings.


Good lighting design often involves a layering of different styles.

Good lighting design often involves a layering of different styles.

Layering and Lighting Techniques

There are five different types of lighting techniques normally used in a residential lighting scheme. A room can be made to feel like a warm and inviting haven for living and double as a comfortable place for entertaining friends with plenty of points of interest to explore.

Task lighting

pendantsIn designing any lighting installation, You should always analyse the tasks to be performed in the space, along with the demographic of the user. As we age, we tend to need more light to perform the same tasks we always have like reading and cooking. Using pendants over a kitchen bench, desk lamp in a study or a bedside reading light, is a few examples of task lighting. Task oriented areas like the laundry benefit from direct bright lights and many people opt for cool white lighting in this areas .

Accent lighting

This technique is often used to highlight architectural or other decorative features in a room. It can be, a narrow beam downlight  - washing on to a painting or inground uplighters - highlighting a featured wall. Decide on your focus and detail for the space by asking which elements in the space warrant highlighting and perhaps creating surrounding areas of shadow to up the drama.

Ambient lighting

Ambient light fills in the gaps between task and accent and is intended for general illumination of a space. Ambient lighting is usually a kind of flat, uniform light that is comfortable for the eye over long periods of time. Be careful with layering this kind of technique with the rest as layering this often leads to over-lighting a space, as lighting techniques like "task" and "accent" lighting, will add to the ambient lighting levels by default.

Decorative lighting

If your an artist or simply have artsy and sculptural lighting pieces, that you seem to want to use as a focal point of a room, then use the technique of decorative lighting. These light fittings vary in style and the amount of output light can range considerably. An example of this may be a vintage chandelier. The light emitted from a fitting of this type may or may not add a great deal of light to the overall design.

Kinetic lighting

Kinetic lighting is the soft flicker of a candle or a crackling fireplace. Reflections off pools and ponds and starry night skies are examples of this type of lighting that my clients frequently request. Our desire for it comes from somewhere almost primal and although generally not great for seeing, it does go particularly well with a glass or two of wine.

Take a wholistic view

white coloursA lighting scheme must be considered as a whole to avoid over or under lighting. Some upward, downward and sideways light ensures that more than one type of surface in the room is lit and the effect is to add depth to the room. It is important to consider how the lighting can be altered by both switching and dimming to create at least two moods in every space - higher functional lighting levels and a soft glowing mood lighting.

Last but definitely not least - always use warm white lamps (around 3000K) residentially to avoid the city morgue effect. No one wants to look like a corpse until it is absolutely necessary no matter how much you're saving on your electricity bill!

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