Article by Barbara Chandler
Create the atmosphere. There is a big choice of budget, and wire-less lighting in high street stores this winter to mix with your Weston Homes low energy interiors.
As the evenings draw in, you switch on the lighting a little earlier every week – and on Sunday October 30 the clocks go back. With this big jump into autumn comes a new opportunity for creative lighting, whether you are working from home or relaxing… and there are amazing choices in the high street stores this season for exciting new looks. But whatever your choice, learn about bulbs – the good news is that new LED bulbs use up to 90 per cent less energy than old tungsten ones.
Happily, Weston Homes has put a lot of thought into its lighting, with high-spec energy-saving LED bulbs at all crucial points. For an extra boost of mood lighting, however, note the positions of your wall sockets – your quickest, easiest route to a plug-in boost of beams. And rechargeable cordless lights are a growing trend, coming now from top designer brands through to cheap Chinese ones on Amazon.
Lighting designers talk about “layering” light. This simply means a good choice of fittings with adjustable controls, and a mix of ambient light for moving around, plus accent lights for special features and task lighting for reading, sewing, ironing, working at your computer and so on. Designed into a Weston Homes property, for example, are sockets for plug-in lighting where you’ll put your bed, sofa, TV/media and dressing table/desk. Take them into account when planning your furniture. Extension leads can lengthen cables but avoid a Spaghetti Junction of ugly cords. Tall, thin, floor-standing lights are elegant and useful if there’s no convenient surface nearby for a lamp, as are clip-on lights.
Make the most of your ceiling points, with a souped-up contemporary “chandelier,” aiming for five arms at least in a living area. Or choose a wide light that fits flush with a good spread of lights. You may have wall points, depending on the property. A particular favourite with Weston Homes buyers is the fully illuminated bathroom mirror with its integrated LED lighting. This mirror never mists up, is always ready when you are for a shave or make-up – and it even tells the time! Any additional bathroom lights must be waterproof: regulatory IP ratings, which stands for water “ingress protection”, vary according to where a fitting is sited.
…and dimming down
Fit dimmers to adjust light levels at the turn of a knob. Make sure your choice is compatible with your type of bulb. You could replace standard white switches and plug sockets for a more decorative finish; explore choices at Forbes & Lomax and Dowsing & Reynolds. Find stainless steel switches and sockets from £7 at Dunelm.
Some pendants need special fixings and a change of wiring. John Lewis has a fitting service and useful online guides. Don’t hang pendant lights so low over a table that you’d bump your head on them if you moved your furniture to another spot, or where they block the opening of cupboards or doors.
Light bulb moments
It’s now illegal to sell old-style tungsten bulbs. Their brightness was measured in watts, which is actually a measure of how much energy they use. But the brightness of an LED bulb is measured in lumens (that’s light given out) rather than energy used. Lumens are marked clearly on the packaging of energy-saving bulbs, and the higher the lumens, the brighter the bulb. A 100 watt (W) tungsten bulb equivalent is around 1600 lumens. For a 75W bulb, it’s about 1100 lumens, for a 60W bulb about 800 lumens and for a 40W bulb, about 450 lumens. The colour temperature of a bulb, measured in kelvins, also is important – look for somewhere around 2700K.
Table lamps are versatile and can be as beautiful switched off and making a style statement, as they are when they are lit, providing ambience. A pair looks particularly classy. However, a “solid” shade in metal, wood, plastic or thick card will only cast light up and down and while it gives attractive shadowing, it will not glow with ambient light. For that, you need translucent glass, fabric or an open weave of cane, or even twisted wood.
Strips of long-lasting LEDs concealed in shelving can “wake-up” your treasures and books.
And for your paintings, fit battery-operated picture lights – there’s a good choice at Lighting Direct. Wall lights with directional spots look good on either side of the bed, paired with table lights for a soft glow. Plug-in versions don’t need special wiring, but have a “tail” of flex at the bottom. Again, Lighting Direct has a good selection
“Smart” lighting is controlled remotely through a hub, a hand-held device and/or an app which you download to your phone for free. Systems vary widely so check exactly what’s involved, and how easy it is to set up – the “comments” sections on websites are useful here. At its simplest, smart lighting is a single bulb (from around £10) or fitting, but with multiple choices/programmes for the light it delivers, from basic on/off, to adjustable light levels and colours.
Several high-end retailers have ex-display/sale designer fittings marked down by as much as 70 per cent. Savvy design buffs could find those classic but pricey icons from the last century.
Try Heals, SCP and Made.Com or ex-display at Twentytwentyone. Ocean Lighting, recommended by many professionals and stocking more than 65 brands, has a huge clearance section. Also explore the sale section of Decolight and for flash sales of designer brands such as Tom Dixon and Anglepoise, try Brand Alley
Finally, get an expert in
Use a registered electrician for all electrical work. Find one through the government-approved Registered Competent Person Electrical single mark and register