What are the different types of lighting that can be used in an Interior Lighting Scheme?

The Importance of Lighting

In addition to being a potential health and safety risk, particularly in areas such as the kitchen or a workshop, bad or ineffective lighting can be detrimental to your wellbeing. Poor lighting can lead to symptoms such as headaches, sore eyes and leave you feeling lethargic. In terms of practicality, bad lighting can create issues such as dimly lit work surfaces or kitchen counters, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks. Poorly planned lighting can create issues such as having to get out of bed to turn off the light or having to cross a darkened room to find the switch on the opposing wall to the doorway.

A successful lighting scheme is made up of several layers: natural, decorative, general, accent and task lighting. The key is to create a flexible scheme that adjusts throughout the day and suits all of the activities and functions of your spaces. You should be able to, simply and quickly, transform a room from a bright and vibrant family space one moment to a calm, soft, atmospheric glow for a romantic meal for two, the next. Thoughtful design will make your home or space feel spacious, warm and welcoming, clean and functional.

There are five basic types of lighting that work together in your home:

Natural lighting is a fantastic asset to any home, but the quality of the light can vary greatly depending on the aspect of the room and the size, shape, style of the windows, doors and openings into the space. The window treatments and furniture you choose for a space may also have a considerable impact on the amount of light within a space. Good design should take advantage of the natural light available and capture it in the most effective or appropriate way to enhance the lighting scheme within the space.

  • North facing: cool and harsh rather than direct sunlight. Artists often choose north-facing studios because the light gives truer colour rendition.
  • East facing: bright early in the morning followed by long shadows and little or no sun later in the day. Incorporate  artificial lighting to control glare and maximise the available natural light in north and east-facing rooms.
  • South facing: warm light throughout the day, although it changes depending on the day and year. The sun in the middle of the day is usually so bright that it makes things appear flat. South-facing rooms are ideal for the kitchen, main living areas and other rooms you spend a lot of time in.
  • West facing: sunlight at the hottest part of the day, which can cause glare. In the late afternoon, as with East-facing rooms, it creates long shadows and softer light.

Wakaba Restaurant, Kieko and Minoru Yoshihara, London 1987. Designed by minimalist Architect and Designer, John Pawson. Wakaba’s facade is a single curved wall of translucent, acid-etched glass: both a sign and a filter protecting the tranquility of the interior.

Barcelona Pavilion by Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The architect has created a building that is wrapped in floor to ceiling glass walls that flood the interior spaces with natural light and connect the interior living spaces with the spaces and landscape outdoors. The changing levels of natural light throughout the day provides a constantly shifting ambience within it’s interior spaces.

Decorative lighting provides a visual or decorative impact within a space. fairy lights, lanterns, battery operated light chains, small pebble lamps etc. can create focal points and add some sparkle to a space. Fairy lights draped across a fireplace or a cluster of small pebble lights on the floor can provide decoration and ambience for a social event or celebration, or simply to provide a soft glow for an evening in.

Decorative light installation by Northern Irish artist and designer Rachel O’Neill. This beautiful, delicate installation provides not only light, but also a focal point, decoration, texture, form and structure.

Fibre Optic Star Ceiling project by Starscape a Fibre Optic and LED Lighting Company. This project for Sphere Custom Design provides a striking, sparkling, low-level light replica of a starry night sky that provides decoration on the ceiling of a bespoke home cinema space.

Ambient lighting provides an area with overall illumination. Also known as general lighting, it radiates a comfortable level of brightness without glare, enabling you to see and move around the space safely. In some small spaces such as a bathroom or utility room, the ambient lighting also acts as the primary source of task lighting.

It can be accomplished with chandeliers, ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures, recessed or track lights and with lanterns mounted outside the building. Having a central source of ambient light in all rooms is fundamental to a good lighting plan.

A series of PEARL pendant lights, by German lighting company Schmitz-Leuchten, provides general lighting within this large Reception space. The pendant light made of natural white polyethylene can be fixed at different altitudes by an adjustable wire suspension. Ideal as a lighting solution for showrooms, halls, foyers and shopping arcades and open-plan living areas.

This open-plan living space incorporates, kitchen, dining and a lounge area within one large open space. John Cullen Lighting have created a multi-layered lighting scheme that provides natural, ambient, task and mood lighting throughout the space.

Task lighting enables you to perform specific tasks, such as reading, writing, preparing and cooking food, doing homework, working on hobbies and so on. It can be provided by recessed and track lighting, pendant lights, under-cabinet lighting, and also through the use of portable floor, table and desk lamps.

Task lighting should be free of distracting glare and shadows, however it must be bright enough to prevent eye strain.

Artemide have been at the forefront of International lighting design since it was established by Ernesto Gismondi and Sergio Mazza in 1959. In this space, the Pipe Terra lights designed by Herzog & De Meuron, 2005, provides light specifically for reading.

Accent lighting adds drama to a room by creating visual interest. As part of an interior design scheme, it is used to draw the eye to architectural features, houseplants, paintings/photographs, sculptures and other prized possessions. It can also be used to highlight the texture of materials such as a brick or stone wall, window treatments, furniture or outdoor landscaping.

To be effective, accent lighting requires as least three times as much light on the focal point as the general lighting surrounding it.

Accent lighting is usually provided by recessed and track lighting or wall-mounted picture lights.

Accent lighting designed by Italian Architect and Designer Claudio Silvestrin for the Georgio Armani store, London. The simple linear arrangement of a series of beautifully engineered square spotlights, illuminates the items on display whilst maintaining a minimal aesthetic. Form and function work beautifully together for this stunning retail display.

Lighting Fixtures, Shapes and Forms – The American Lighting Association

Light Fixtures and Fittings – BBC Homes

Lighting Controls and Dimmers – – The American Lighting Association

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