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Planning Your Lighting Design

Your lighting scheme defines your house and its interior design. But before you start buying your light fixtures, Here's a few reminders to make sure you land that well planned and thought about effect.

Natural Light is always Good

natural lightBefore planning on setting out a lighting scheme, remember  the sources of natural light

The role that natural light can play in the ambience of your home should actually be the starting point. Remember, It is not always electrical lighting that makes the difference.

Consider the type of natural light that will be entering each room. Main living areas and kitchens should be south facing since southfacing light is warm and bright all day long.

West-facing light provides sunlight at the hottest part of the day, so opt for rooms which you spend time in during the late afternoon/early evening to be west-oriented, as they will get a softer light at this time. Northfacing rooms often get a cold, rather harsh light, while those facing east will be bright first thing in the morning, followed by periods of almost no sun later in the day.

Coming Up With a Scheme

A successful lighting scheme notes into account each possible use of every room

Knowing where to start can be a little overwhelming. You should ideally begin planning and making provision for your lighting scheme at the same time as the plumbing. Start by considering the following:

reading in lightWhat will the space be used for. Will the kitchen double up as a dining or homework space? Will a spare room also be a study?

Pieces of furniture, architectural features or artwork that you want to highlight in any of the rooms. This will determine your accent lighting.

Who will be using the room. Someone of 60+ years basically  needs 15 times more light than a ten-year-old.

The time of day that the room be used the most and where natural light enters which room and from what direction.

Draw a plan of the room to help you determine the best points for lights to be situated. You should mark down permanent fixtures, such as windows and doors, fireplaces and other heat sources. Mark the direction in which occupants of the rooms are likely to spend most time facing with arrows, for example the television, a desk or the cooker. Mark where light switches will be most conveniently placed and have a think about where you plan to place major items of furniture, such as beds and sofas.

Know Your Regulations

Installing low-energy light sources in new build homes is now necessary

IMG_0673The Building Regulations now require a minimum of 25% of lights installed in a new build home to come from a low-energy source — typically meaning fittings that will only take lights that have a luminous efficacy greater than 40 lumens per circuit watt. Fluorescent and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), LEDs or discharge lamps would conform to this, whilst fitting low-energy bulbs with bayonet or screw-cap bases do not.

Suiting Lights as the room requires

Nu Style Lighting LuminariesThe Living Room is where a really flexible design is required, to fit in with the multiple ways in which this room is used. Although it was once common for almost every living room’s background lighting to be provided by a central pendant, more and more people are choosing to provide background lighting through a combination of downlights and table or floor lamps, which tend to provide a much cosier feel, although for others, the room will not feel complete without a central focus, such as a daring chandelier, even if it is rarely used for anything other than decoration.

In terms of accent lighting, consider uplights beneath fireplaces, downlights in alcoves, picture lights and then use concealed lighting behind cabinets. And if you plan on reading in the living room, don’t forget a few sources of task lighting.

childs roomThe Bedroom has the main requirement to be bright in the morning and restful at night. In addition to a soft background light, best achieved by table and floor lamps, the bedroom can really benefit from accent lighting that draws attention to a stylish headboard, or wall washers that soften the boundaries of the room. It is useful to have switches to control the lighting not only at the entrance to the room, but also either side of the bed. Some practical task lighting can also be really useful, such as low-level recessed floor washers near the doorway or at the entrance to an en suite. This is a particularly good idea in children’s rooms or along landings.

The Bathroom that has so many reflective surfaces responds well to lighting. You will need to pay attention to various zones when it comes to bathroom lighting and to the IP rating of fittings. Zone 0 is the area inside the bath or shower, for example. The IP rating denotes a fitting’s resistance to water and what is needed will depend on which zone the light is to be fitted in.

LED downlights work well in bathrooms as background lighting. Task lighting, above mirrors for example, can be provided through an illuminated mirror or by lights than run the width of the mirror, or that sit either side of it.

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