By Julie Paul
One of the trickiest things to get right when designing your home is how best to light each room. It’s not enough to simply buy a new bulb, open the curtains and make do. Regardless of any superficial limitations, every room has a potential that can be unlocked with the intelligent use of light. A thoughtful and holistic approach to each space is needed to create a desirable, useful level of brightness throughout your home, night and day.
Allow us to throw some light on the subject – here are our top tips for bringing brightness into your home.
Maximising Natural Light
Sometimes the simplest ideas can prove to be the most effective – making any room brighter should begin with the effective use of any natural light. This can begin with the most basic ideas – a fresh, bright coat of paint, or replacing those dark, musty old curtains with less opaque alternatives – to the far more technical, such as installing skylights or even solar tubes to bring natural light into previously unreachable corners of your home.
Intelligently accessorising a room can also be of massive benefit. Introducing mirrors can be transformative, providing both the illusion of space in cramped environments and reflecting light back into the centre of the room. Placing a mirror opposite a light source can significantly maximise the appearance of light in a room – even if space is limited, small mirrors can make a big difference.
Creating Your Lighting Plan
More often than not, it can be the lighting of a room that can itself make the space appear darker. Building a natural and balanced lighting plan for your home is key to making every space appear warm and welcoming, regardless of the size, decoration or lack of natural light.
Every lighting plan should start with a consideration of positioning – simply, where in the room can sources of light be used to best effect. A lack of imagination in this area – ignoring the potential of table lamps, wall-mounted alternatives or even the humble candle – can often lead to a room that is either aggressively overlit or oppressively gloomy.
It’s also very important to consider what you use the room for, and how the lighting can be designed to fit to your needs. Whether for hard study, soft slumber or even a spot of sewing, make the light work for you. There are so many flexible lighting options available, suitable for both contemporary and traditional styles, that it is simple to build a lighting plan that compliments your use of the space.
Clearing The Clutter
The style of a room’s furniture can also have a huge impact on how bright it appears. Often when choosing a particular style or aesthetic, the pursuit of statement furniture and accessories can lead to lighting being left as an afterthought. It is important to make sure that the furniture you choose suits the room and the light in which it will be set.
If you’ve got bulky furniture in darker colours, particularly dark wood tables and cabinets, they can leave a smaller, darker space feeling unpleasantly cramped. Look to replace them with lighter, simpler and less obtrusive pieces – you’ll save space and lend the room a pleasant, more welcoming atmosphere.
There is also real value in a remorseless campaign of de-cluttering. A room dense with design is often too dark, and can immediately benefit from a few more clean lines and aired alcoves. For example, tall, packed bookshelves can prevent light from reaching all corners of the room and loom large in smaller spaces – consider alternative, more convenient storage solutions, such as baskets and sideboards, combined with feature shelves for displays that make an impact, rather than overwhelm.
Embracing The Dark
And if all else fails, embrace the shadows and commit to the cosiness. Choose your favourite deep, rich colours, stack your books high, order in the grandest, most indulgent sofa you can find and create your own baroque snug – but you’ll still need to find a good reading light.
Julie Paul is the Head of Interior Design and Trade at OKA and has worked on interior design projects all around the world. She trained at the Chelsea College of Art and Design and is passionate about interiors, architecture and working with people.