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Basic Concepts in Lighting

Basic Concepts in Lighting

Where would we be without electric lighting - in the dark ages for sure. We have come a long way since candle light and now take it for granted. However along with technology comes awareness and we no longer are satisfied with the traditional ceiling light. We want many different types of lighting to accompany it such as table lamps, floor and wall lights. Immediately any area can be transformed with perfect lighting to a work area right through to seductive lighting for that romantic meal for two.

Each individual home or property owner knows what each room will be used for - whether it is a workplace or somewhere to relax - and it is important to know how to create the perfect lighting for every area. With today’s penchant for large rooms, they are often divided into separate zones, each with its own unique use, but lighting must still flow throughout while providing more and less where appropriate. Architectural features must also be taken into consideration as many will be greatly enhanced by the right type of lighting. This is where the correct use of layers will come to the fore.
Architects aspire to it and interior designers love it and we strive to learn how to create it.

Layered lighting will create a warm, interesting and inviting space. It will also allow the focus to concentrate on specific areas without detracting from the rest of the room. It permits light to flow rather than be disjointed and the eyes will be pleased with what they see as they look around the room. There are several different types of layering and regardless of whether the room is large or small, the benefits are enormous. Some examples are:

  • Focal layering - this is used to highlight architectural features, three- dimensional objects and vertical surfaces such as feature walls and art work. It plays a very important part in how we see the brightness of any area such as floors, tables and desktops. It is also perfect for retail displays and shop signs.
  • Daylight Layering - this is used in areas where there is plenty of natural daylight; the choice of lighting should work together with this. For example with the use of crystal and Murano glass that will reflect sunlight and look stunning, while at the same time lowering utility bills. They will look gorgeous, but only need to be used when it is dark or on gloomy days.
  • Ambient Layering - this is that wonderful background lighting which is so essential in any home. This is what sets the mood and is probably one of the most important layers to get right. Relaxing cannot be done without ambient lighting, so deciding on the most suitable areas to put it is crucial
    Decorative Layering - this is what will give a room impact; it is considered to be architectural jewellery and should catch the eye with its sparkle and elegance. It does not matter whether it gives a strong or weak light as it is there to create a stunning feature and a focal point in the room.
  • Task Layering - tasks can include reading, watching television or sewing and it is important to have the correct lighting to avoid eye strain. Dimmer switches are perfect as they will allow brightness to be controlled to exactly the required level for the type of work.
  • One Light, Two or More Layers - this is how lighting design can be minimised while still obtaining the perfect atmosphere in any given room. For example the decorative lighting could also be used as ambient lighting and decorative lights could be chosen not just for their beauty, but also to provide focal or task lighting, such as table and floor lamps and pendant.

Simply by considering the use of the room and each of its separate areas, layering will not only produce the ultimate in beauty, it will also be extremely functional and indeed a stunning place that interior designers would charge a fortune to create. 

The size of a room will often dictate as to how many layers it is possible to have. As each layer serves a different purpose, it is necessary to stay with lighting that will be useful and used. Ideally layered lighting should be controlled by dimmer switches because this will provide the ultimate in control. This way it is possible to utilise several of the layers without the room looking too bright, however spectacular that might be on the right occasions. A pre-set scene controller is a great idea - any electrician can install one - as this will allow individual areas to be set at a certain level and this level will then be in the controls memory, to be easily recalled when required.

There is no doubt as to the importance of correct lighting in our lives, but functionality no longer has to come at the expense of beauty. Choose layers and zones carefully that will benefit from perhaps exquisite delicate lighting designs in crystal through to sumptuous chandeliers, minimalist, contemporary or characterful, to create not just a stunning room, but also one that is practical in its purpose for everyone.

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