It’s easy to think of lighting in your home interior to be simple. With a pendant light in the centre of your space or simply some spotlights will do. However, lighting is one of the most important aspects of any interior. Lighting can transform the look of a space for better… or for worse. You can use lighting to illuminate a space, creating depth to your colour palette, or you can over illuminate and cause headaches and tired eyes from too much light reflection. It is also important to understand how you use your space, the times of day and its purpose.

Types of lighting

There are two main types of lighting which need to be considered in any home interior space – natural light and artificial light.

Natural light

Sunlight is free and the most natural light source there is so it’s important to utilise it as much as possible in any modern interior design – within reason. It is mentally stimulating but it is extremely hard to control as it differs depending on the direction your room is facing, the time of day and the seasons.

Window treatments are helpful when it comes to controlling natural light. Sheer blinds or curtains such as voiles or natural linens can help to control the natural light without making the space dark, but this approach is also great if you have a small amount of natural light in your room. Mirrors are also a great way to control natural light in a space which can also help to make a small space feel bigger. A room which is too light can look flat and cold but can also come with the issue of glare. Using blinds or shutters can help to control the light at the most prominent times of day without disrupting the aesthetic of the window and room scheme.

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Artificial light

Warm artificial light is the best option for residential spaces. It is used to add dimensions to your home interior, creating features and zones within the space whilst adding to the overall style. Artificial lights can be used as objects as well as a source of light in a space and its essential to consider what you need, how you use your space and what times of day you use your space in order to create the more effective lighting scheme whilst complementing the overall design.

Image credit: Sophie Paterson

Types of interior light

There are three main types of artificial interior lighting: ambient, task and decorative.

Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting is the main source of light in the room. This is often downlighters or spotlights throughout any space, a large pendent light in a bedroom or living room or wall lights in a bathroom to add a source of light to the mirror area. A pendant or wall lights can be interchangeable between decorative and ambient depending on the creative lighting in the overall space.

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Task lighting

Task lighting is designed for focusing on or highlighting a specific task, this could be undercabinet spotlights in the kitchen, strip lighting in your alcove shelving or a desk light for reading or desk work.

Image credit: Andrew Beasley

Decorative lighting

Decorative lighting often doesn’t add too much light to the room but instead adds drama and atmosphere. During the day a chandelier is a decorative piece but during the evening it transforms the space into a calming and restful area producing minimal light. Table lamps are often decorative and used as occasional items in a space. The use of table lamps can instantly soften a living space to make it relaxing and soothing. During the day, table lamps act as ornaments whilst during the evening, when lit, they can create a tranquil mood and atmosphere.

Image Credit: Laura Hammett

How to create a balanced lighting scheme

It is essential to have a mix of ambient, task and decorative lighting in every home interior space. To get the right balance, you need to think of what your room is being used for and what specific lighting you need. Understand how natural light affects your room and plan window treatments and artificial lighting accordingly. If you can, add dimmer switches in your lighting design, this allows you to have better control of your lighting and create different moods and atmospheres with a simpler lighting scheme. Always ensure you have multiple sources of light in your modern interior design space, one central light source can make the space look flat whereas you want to be creating layers or light in your scheme.

Georgina Robertson, Owner, COCO Interior Design

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