• In theory, when decorating a room from scratch, we should draw up a lighting plan based on how each area will be used. In practice, most of us add to our lighting incrementally, as we find new designs we like. Remember: it’s often necessary to subtract a light before adding a new one.
• Overlighting flattens a room and irritates its occupants, while good lighting flatters both. Every interior needs a practical foundation of task and ambient lighting; accent and decorative lights can then be layered in to create interest.
• Close work demands a task light: a bright, non-glare source focused on the work area. Use angled spots under kitchen cabinets and lamps with adjustable arms in the study. In the bathroom, mirrors with built-in lights work well for make-up.
• All interiors need ambient light. Wall washers, or an uplight that reflects light off the ceiling, are good sources, as are pendants with opaque shades in the living room; and, in the kitchen, ropes of LEDs concealed on top of cabinets.
• Inject drama into a living or dining room with accent lighting. Try spotlighting a picture, a vase or an architectural feature with, for instance, a low-voltage halogen light.
Good lighting has transformative powers. It can facilitate close work, create a relaxed mood and magically make both an interior and its occupants more attractive. Perhaps that’s why lighting design is an area that inspires the best and brightest of our product designers to come up with ever more ingenious solutions.
The most dramatic lighting development in recent years has been the rediscovery of the bulb as an object of beauty. It started when news broke that old-fashioned incandescent lamps were to be phased out and replaced with energy-efficient alternatives. This sparked outrage among fans of the traditional filament bulb — and a race among designers to produce equally beautiful compact fluorescent lamps.