How to get perfect lighting in your home

Everyone should have perfect lighting in their new home, but achieving this can be dependent on budget, style and how you want your dream home to look. When creating a lighting plan, I feel it’s always better to illuminate your home on a room-by-room basis.

And with open-plan living in vogue, there are two main rooms I tend to focus upon – the kitchen and dining room. I’m also a big believer that we should also celebrate life, art and achievements.

When finding the perfect lights for your dining space, there are several considerations you need to take on board. Is this an open living space? If so, you want the lighting to be seamless and styles to flow from room to room. This will tie two spaces together while still keeping the zones separate.

What shape is your dining table? When using pendants or a chandelier in the dining space, you want to consider the shape of the table. Your piece shouldn’t necessarily mirror the table, but it should complement the style, shape and colour of your table. If your table is round, try using a piece that draws your eye to the centre of the table and creates an even spread of light. If your table is square or rectangular, look at using pieces where the light is able to span the distance of the table, so those sitting at one end of the table are still lit.

Rectangular tables are a great opportunity to use two or more pendants in a row to create a symmetrical look. This not only looks great, but distributes light evenly. Don’t forget you don’t need to have a pendant or chandelier in your dining space.

Downlights are a great option for ample general lighting (also a good option if you have open living and other spaces are dominated with feature lighting, such as the island bench). Having them on a dimmer means you can turn the lights down low for a more intimate dinner, or brighten the area for
task-focused lighting.

Lighting your kitchen is not as easy as bedrooms, for instance, because there are many layers in the kitchen. You need to look at task lighting, general room lighting and decorative lighting. Having perfectly illuminated task lighting is crucial in the kitchen. High-traffic areas are where most of the work takes place, so you need the most light in this space. Downlights are a great option as task lighting, and new-technology LED downlights provide you with great output, are energy efficient and don’t need replacing. The range of Axion LED downlights are a prime example.

Tip: Many LED downlights have a slim profile and can also be used as under-shelf or under-cabinet lighting.

The second layer of lighting in the kitchen is general room lighting. Again, we can use downlights here. These lights are placed in the walkways and around the room to ensure even light spread. Alternatives include LED oysters or track lights. Track lights or spot lights are great as you are able to adjust the heads to shine in the directions necessary for you.

Last, but not least, is decorative lighting. In most cases this takes the form of pendants above the island bench. This is great for two reasons: aesthetically, it adds contrast and style to the area as well as providing task lighting (depending on the style of pendant you pick).

Spacing your pendants above your island bench will be based on the length of your bench. Generally, you want to space your pendants at least 1m above head height (if someone is going to sit there like a breakfast bar) and at least 500mm between each other. Most commonly, your pendants are displayed in a line across the whole bench, but a growing trend is to make the pendants off centre, to create a talking point and design feature in the kitchen.

Be creative and let your imagination lead the way. For example, a 3m bench can have two larger pendants, or three pendants spaced evenly across. With the second option, remember to always come in from the bench at least 250mm to ensure a symmetrical look. Another thing to consider is if you need under-cabinet lighting. A great way to light up this area would be to use either a recessed slim-profile downlight, such as the Axion Falcon 10W downlight, or an LED strip. LED strips are a great way to add light. Most are do it yourself and come complete with flex, plug and a self-adhesive strip that allows you to add them under the cabinets. Wall lights are another way to add decorative lights in a kitchen, if pendants are not an option. Wall lights are great for task lighting, as well as adding warmth and style to the kitchen.

Displaying art and prized possessions in our home is a great way to celebrate achievements, special moments or pieces of art. To make sure that you bring your special moments to life, light them to bring attention to them or to show people their true beauty.

A common space for hanging artwork is the hallway. It is a blank canvas and the perfect place to display various pieces of artwork in a series. The best way to think of your hallway is as an art gallery. Lighting this can be done in two ways. Using spot lights or track lights with tilted heads shining down on to the artwork or with art wall lights.

Tip: Depending on what materials are used in the artwork, different types of lighting angles and light intensity will need to be trialled. For example, oil paintings can reflect glare if a spot light is directed on them. This means that using a broad-based lighting application is best. Acrylic paintings don’t have that glossy finish, so they don’t have that same issue of producing glare.

If lighting up pictures in glass frames, try and have the light cascade down the picture instead of pointing directly at the glass. The latter will cause glare and make the light reflective.

When placing your artwork and track lighting for optimal lighting, if you are working with fixed spotlights, be sure that your spot aligns with your artwork. If you are working with moveable track heads, be sure that the track length is long enough to cover the span of the hallway or artwork and then move the track head to perfectly light up the artwork. It’s important that you try to avoid using a light that directly shines continuously on your artwork or photograph as it can cause it to fade and deteriorate over time.

When it comes to memorabilia, there are plenty of cool ways for you to display it. Many items are placed on shelves or on the wall. Again, you can use track or spot lights to shine on to these items. Other ways include using gimble (tilted) downlights to shine down on the walls, or recessed under-cabinet lights that can be placed on the underside of the shelf.

If you can’t use recessed downlights, surface-mounted under-cabinets lights (available at DIY stores) are another great option. Displaying your prized possessions or artwork is all about being creative and expressing your style. Illuminating them will bring them to life and make sure they are noticed.

Other ways to light up memorabilia include using LED strips strategically placed under and around shelving and hidden from view. But when it’s turned on, it washes the display with light. Another creative way to shine the light on your awards or treasured pieces is to use do-it-yourself LED strips on the back of the frame and plug them in. Then, when the strips are turned on, the whole piece is illuminated.

Words: Maria Tadic

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