Lighting the Way to Great Design

Posted on 28 September 2015

There are certain hallmarks of good design that anyone can train their eye to look for. The architecture of the space (the “bones”) sets the foundation for both form and function. This includes the actual layout of the shell (placement of walls and windows for example) and extends to the major furnishings as well. The style and placement of your sofa, bookcases, and table also contribute to the framework of the space.

Much of the rest could be classified as filler: this is the clutter, whether purely functional or purely decorative, that burdens us with the task of making something of it all. Minimalist, traditional, shabby-chic, and industrial are just some of the terms we use that describe how we deal with all that stuff.

But what is it that gives a great space that “je ne c’est quoi”? It comes down to a mood, or sense of how the space makes you feel. If you’re prone to falling asleep at the keyboard on a rainy day you already know this to be true!

Lighting can singlehandedly determine the feel of a space,
and it’s so basic it often gets overlooked.

All great designs have something else in common – the element of uniqueness. Thankfully the world of lighting is literally overflowing with creative options that easily encompass these attributes.

Design credibility goes beyond look-and-feel, however. The best designs look great while retaining, or enhancing, their intended function. Is thoughtful lighting the missing link in your décor? Try these tips:

Colour Counts
If you can still find them, the old decorator’s trick of tucking a soft pink bulb into your table lamps makes a comfortable space. Don’t worry, the room won’t look obviously pink, it’s a subtle effect. Great in the living room or bedroom. Smart bulbs with colour controls will be the next-generation solution, though the market is still evolving.

Flaunt It
Are your bulbs showing? Many lightbulbs are design elements in-and-of themselves. Eliminate glare and hot spots with a half-chrome bulb – try them in any open fixture.

equal parts decorative and functional

Complement a gorgeous glass pendant with a bulb that’s up to the task such as the Plumen 001, or be bold and create a standalone solution:

designer bulbs make fantastic statement pieces either singly or in groupings

On-trend Edison-style bulbs can be used in the same way for a feel that ranges from warm and traditional to vintage steampunk.

Could this be Sherlock’s desk?

Be Moody
Tuck a special piece or two into your space for ambient lighting. You’ll be serving up a visual treat and helping to create a mood at the same time. Think candles and string lights for your go-to accessory lighting on a budget.

from Popsugar Home: 11 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Feel Cozier

 These larger-scale pieces can only be described as functional art:

LZF fashions glowing luminaries from wood veneer, letting the light shine through

David Trubridge uses wood like pieces of a 3D puzzle. Here, the pendant casts a patterned shadow

Task It
Ultimately lighting has a job to fulfill, so make sure you’re putting it to good use. While task lighting may have a practical first intention it can really elevate a space, especially if it highlights an architectural element at the same time. Under-counter lighting in the kitchen sets off your woodwork and polished countertops. Wall sconces in the stairwell make you feel like you’re travelling somewhere.

the eye is drawn to the shelf composition by the under-lighting

wall sconces create a sense of direction in the hallway

Use these essential lighting tips to inject some life into your space. Already have these covered and wondering what to do next? In a future post we’ll take a look at solutions that go beyond the basics and explore the cutting edge the industry has to offer.


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