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Get Switched on to New Lighting

Nov 21 2006

GIVE your rooms a welcoming, soft glow now that the long nights are with us, says GABRIELLE FAGAN.

At this time of year it's easy to feel like a mole never seeing daylight, that's why it's so important to get the lighting scheme right in your home so you create a cheering, bright atmosphere no matter what the natural light levels.

The rewards of a successful lighting scheme are high. Not only does good lighting lift our mood, but it also makes bland rooms look exciting. Lighting can disguise unsightly features and even alter the dimensions of a space.

Lucy Martin, design director of John Cullen Lighting, is crystal clear about what good lighting can achieve.

"Good lighting shouldn't look as though it's trying too hard - it should be discreet, subtle and totally effective in making a room look stylish and appealing.

"You don't want people to walk in and say 'great lighting' -rather you want them to say 'wow, great room'. Successful lighting should enhance the space, not dominate it."

People are becoming increasingly inspired by lighting effects seen in restaurants, hotels and clubs, and want to try to replicate them at home, Martin says.

"People are more confident and imaginative about using lighting.

"They'll opt for hidden light sources, lights that glow, fibre optics or perhaps lighting a feature in a room like a painting or alcove."

Whatever your choice for lights - note the plural as you should never have only one light source - there's nothing nicer than sitting in a well-lit, welcoming space, where the light flatters the occupants and the room.

Shine, sheen and metallics are key elements this season, and ceiling pendant lights are back in fashion.

In a living room, use a combination of general overhead or wall lighting supplemented by portable light sources such as table, floor or task lamps, or even well-positioned ceiling spotlights.
To create a relaxed mood, consider accent lighting hidden behind cornices, bookshelves and glassware displays.

Alternatively, try highlighting pictures and paintings with a picture light.

Always fit dimmers so that you can change the mood of a room. Ideally, have each type of lighting on a different circuit so that it can be controlled, ie table lamps on one, downlighters on another.

Beautiful table lamps are like jewellery in a room and should be chosen carefully so their style and size complements your home and scheme.

There's no need to splash the cash with supermarkets like Asda, Sainsbury's and Tesco offering great lamps at cheap-as-chips prices.

Bold, beautiful chandeliers, which are like sculptural works of art, are established as lighting stars while pendant lights are enjoying a revival.

Floor lamps are excellent for task lighting as well as highlighting a corner of a room.

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