Artificial lighting is an essential part of modern homes, but it’s rare to see it given the attention it in fact deserves. It’s still most common to see a single light globe in the middle of the ceiling. Recessed halogen downlights have recently become the more stylish solution to providing light, but there are many more interesting approaches to illuminating the home or office.

The quality of artificial light affects our everyday lives and it is therefore strange that so little thought goes into its design. There are specialist lighting designers who can be engaged to provide advice and select light fixtures and layouts for a specific application. These consultants most commonly provide advice on larger scale commercial or industrial projects and, though they are rarely called upon for smaller domestic applications, their advice can greatly enhance a living environment, both inside and out.

There are four main types of lighting: task, ambient, highlight and utility. Ambient lighting is simply uniform light that allows you to see the room around you, not knock into things and generally hang out in a space. Task lighting is found over specific work areas such as desks, kitchen or workbenches.

Highlight or feature lighting has a more decorative effect but can also contribute to ambient lighting. It might be used to illuminate an artwork or to cast light upon a surface in an interesting way. It provides areas of shadow and illumination to create interest in a space. It might also be in the form of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), fairy lights, neon or other alternative light sources. Utility lighting is exactly as it sounds. Mainly used in sheds and warehouses it can be as cheap and basic as you like.

When you think about providing light to a space, you might want to consider some less common forms of lighting to suit the proposed use. Recessed lighting is a relatively cheap and effective idea that is rarely taken advantage of in domestic applications. It is possible to conceal lighting within pelmets, in joinery as task lighting over a kitchen bench, within niches in the wall to light artwork or in the top of lightweight walls. This last idea directs light at the ceiling causing the reflection of diffuse light. This even wash of light is far less stressful on the eyes than direct light and creates a restful atmosphere.

Another idea is to place light fittings in unexpected places, such as recessed in walls or in the floor. There are light fittings available now that are specially designed for use in floors. These can provide a stunning effect if placed in a row along a feature wall. Lights recessed low in a wall can be an interesting way to light staircases or external pathways. Wall-mounted lights can also point upwards to provide a wash of light on the ceiling. Conversely, ceiling-mounted downlights can wash light down a wall.

Give special thought when planning a party or other event to creating the atmosphere you desire. Your existing lighting can be supplemented with lamps, fairy lights, candles and lanterns to draw attention to special features and set the mood of the evening.

Check out lighting catalogues for the amazing range of light fittings now available. Many of them are now more energy efficient and when used with low-draw light bulbs can help reduce your energy bills. There’s certainly no excuse today for living with boring outdated lighting.

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