By Mairead Walsh, Editor - InsideOut

1) Find your focus

Lighting can be used effectively to direct attention to a focal point in your interior, such as artwork, display cabinets or the lighting fixture itself.

A statement focal light can be a chandelier that adds elegance and defines the room’s style; low-hanging pendants work well to highlight a piece of furniture. For artwork, pin spotlights allows the light to be directed into the centre of the art piece for maximum effect; mount a picture light – which can be a decorative element itself – onto the wall or the artwork; track lighting along the ceiling adds an industrial art-gallery look.

Use LED bulbs for this purpose as halogen lights can damage artwork over time.

2) Layered lights

Layering is a fundamental lighting tool. Think of your room as a cake with each layer building on the next.

There are three primary layers to consider: ambient or general lighting is the sponge, which usually provides 75% of a room’s light through chandeliers and ceiling fixtures; task lighting is the icing holding it together and adds extra light to specific areas for designated activities, such as reading a book in bed or preparing meals in the kitchen; accent or decorative lighting are the sprinkles on top, adding character through features like tray ceilings, up-lit cabinets, or unique statement lights.

3) Make an entrance

Statement lighting inside your entryway can welcome guests with a lasting first impression. A stylish chandelier in a double-height foyer or an interesting pendant in a small front hallway is a great starting point. Wall sconces are a good option if your home doesn’t have high ceilings, as decorative lights flanking the entrance will be inviting, and a series of them can draw guests into your home.

4) Perfect pendants

Versatile and varied, pendant lights can be used in every room. Traditionally, they’re hung from the ceiling as a single light or in a series of three of four, perhaps over a kitchen island or a dining table, however, their size variety and adjustable height allows you to arrange multiple pendants in creative ways. Try clustering pendants over tables and in entryways at varying levels for a staggered effect that draws the eye towards the feature.

5) Counter lighting

Under-cabinet and counter lighting is a modern and practical approach that effects the impact of a kitchen. When installing such lights, mount them towards the front of the cabinet. The light will shine on the outer edge of the counter where it will fully illuminate kitchen tasks and add a warm glow. Back-light your glass-fronted sideboards and cabinets to highlight displays of special glassware and serveware.

6) Cool & coordinated

When it comes to choosing bulbs, there are varied colour temperatures that affect the light cast and the ambience. The temperature of light bulbs is measured in Kelvins (K); the higher the number of Kelvins the cooler – bluer – the light, while lower numbers cast warmer – yellower –light. First, assess the function and natural light levels in each room to help determine which colour temperature will be most suitable. Traditional incandescent light bulbs, 2700K, give a warm white, almost yellow, glow and are best used in rooms designed for relaxation, like living rooms and bedrooms. A 3000K bulb emits a yellow glow but is suitable for busier areas like the kitchen, as are 4000K bulbs which have a crisper, stimulating glow. At the other end of the spectrum 6500K offers a brighter, whiter light that imitates cloudy daylight instead of a cosy glow, so use this bulb outdoors or in working areas like a home office.

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