Lighting in Interior Design

We are all aware of the fact that lighting is an obvious necessity in everyday life. However, it serves other purposes as well such as to create mood and atmosphere or to draw attention to decorative details. The choice of lighting within interior design can also affect the way that colours appear and like colour can be used to make a room seem larger or smaller. This is dependent on the type of lights chosen and their positioning. Good lighting relaxes us and helps us to create a warm and comfortable atmosphere. Bad lighting however, creates a strain on our eyes being either too gloomy so making it hard to see, or too bright thereby causing glare. There are many opportunities for lighting to make or break a scheme so it is important that lighting is taken into consideration at the planning stage of a design.

In terms of natural light the quality of this will depend on which direction the room faces and how many windows are in the room. The size of the windows is clearly also of importance. A Georgian townhouse with high ceilings and full length sash windows will obviously be much brighter than a country cottage with inset windows and low ceilings. The result of this is that the same furnishings would look completely different in these two settings. Geographical location is also of importance, with rooms in countries that receive a lot of sunlight being much brighter than those in places such as Britain where we have quite gloomy weather.

Natural daylight shows colours in their true form with no distortion. Therefore, it is always advisable that when comparing colours and choosing between shades it is done in natural daylight. However, it is also important that selected colours are also viewed in the interior setting in which they will be placed, as the amount of natural light available will have an impact on the colour and the way it appears.

Natural light is often neglected by designers because they feel they can have little impact on it with it generally being the responsibility of the architect or builder. However, if working for a client that is planning to undertake building work, there is the opportunity to advise them on the amount of natural light available and ways in which this can be improved. This could include the following.

Wherever possible use the opportunity to install larger windows which could include velux windows or skylights.

Mirrors can be used to reflect light back into a room and therefore gives the illusion of more space.

Glass blocks have become very popular in interior design and can be used to replace solid walls. This allows light to flood into an area creating a more open and spacious feel whilst at the same time maintaining privacy where required.

Consider the type of window treatments you intend to use and choose those that will allow the maximum amount of light to enter the room during the day.

One important point to remember is how the colours you select for a scheme will reflect the light and so make a room appear larger or smaller. As a general rule of thumb strong and particularly dark colours absorb light and therefore require strong lighting to maintain a well lit room. By comparison, soft and light colours reflect the light and therefore will not require as much lighting. But any designer needs to be careful about their choices and should not allow these guidelines to limit them unnecessarily.