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  • Writer's pictureSarah Farrington

Lets Lead with Lighting

My mind buzzes all day with the constant hum of which decision to make next. A new build can throw you in a dozen directions by lunchtime (or in my case between the hours of 1 and 4 in the morning when my brain refuses to switch off). So trying to decide what to write my first blog on has not been easy but one thing I've realised when working on house plans is that it's never too early to think about furniture layouts and hence where lighting can be most effective, enhancing those plans.

Whilst the building stage of the house can be all consuming, thinking ahead as to how the final touches will fall into place is important as it can impact the positioning of walls, windows and doors in your build. Before designing any lighting scheme it is useful to consider maximising the natural light thorough the scale and position of the windows. For example, an East facing room will have the morning sun, ideal for breakfast rooms or bedrooms but requiring thoughtful lighting solutions for the evening. The clever positioning of a mirror can reflect light from a window and make a room feel bigger. Paint colour choices will also play a part, for instance, dark colours absorb light so more lighting choices should be included if you favour dark shades.

Lighting can be defined as ambient, task or decorative:

Ambient lighting is the main source of light in any room, aiming to replicate the effect of daylight, blanketing the space and providing a well lit area to move through. Recessed downlights are a popular and easy solution, track lighting is a flexible option and hidden cove lighting uses indirect illumination reflecting off walls or the ceiling.

Task lighting focuses on directing light to a specific area, making reading more comfortable in your favourite armchair or illuminating an artwork. It can also be used to enhance the mood of the room by exposing texture or shining off reflective surfaces, left on as a backdrop whilst ambient lighting is turned off or down.

Decorative lighting is noticeable for its shape and form and is often a feature in its own right. Particularly useful in creating romantic and intimate spaces it can also be used to segregate a section of a room such as over two armchairs in a cosy corner for a drink.

For Gamekeeper's Lodge, whilst the first skim of concrete has just gone down and outlined the footprint of the house, I've already got my sights set on some striking lighting options. Pendant lighting will be a feature throughout adding focal points to the vaulted ceilings of the first floor living spaces. John Cullen's pendants (below left) are top of my list to create a cascade of light over the stairs. Ciara O'Neill's Vault Pendant could provide beautiful task lighting over the sofa, its soft blue-grey horizontal lines complementing the views of the pond and the Warwickshire landscape beyond. Whilst Curiousa & Curiousa's Snowdrop pendants might add a delicate touch hanging over the bath in my ensuite and recessed lighting will graze the feature stone wall behind the bath.

I would love to include the dramatic dandelion seedheads below in my outdoor lighting plans but suspect they might blow my budget!

Taking time to draw an accurately scaled plan of the room and where the furniture will go allows the lighting plan to be overlaid on tracing paper (as shown below) resulting in a strategic positioning of the power points and a well planned lighting scheme that can be layered to create a room that works and looks better.

Overlaid lighting plan on open plan living room layout

Future proofing your home with an automated lighting system that saves power by sensing when you are in the room and or sets the scene for watching a movie with a simple voice command is also worth considering especially if you are undertaking a complete renovation project. There is a lot of baffling choice out there and researching whether to go with a full internal wiring solution, such as provided by Lutron, or to use a smart lightbulb solution, such as Wemo or Philips Hue, can be time consuming. However, the days when we got up to change the TV channel over are long gone and the opportunity to securely light your home, save electricity, set the scene for dinner all using voice commands to Alexa or with the swipe of a Control 4 App is worth doing at some level if you can.

If you would like to discuss lighting decisions or mechanical and electrical layouts at any stage on your project then drop me a line via forum or the contacts page.

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