The typical British home is dead. Today your neighbours are just as likely to live in a converted barge or 24 floors skyward in a luxury apartment as they are to be in 3 bed semi or 2 up 2 down. With space of a premium and, up until recently, the price of property spiralling out of control, television informed homeowners and amateur interior designers began to look in some unusual places when scouting out potential new homes.
No disused windmill, defunct lighthouse or overgrown barn in the land was safe! But if an enterprising young couple is willing to tackle such huge undertakings they will rightly bring a very long list of domestic demands. Top of that list is versatility. Homes now have to shift seamlessly from office to den to bar, from play pen to disco to games room- the modern home has been put work!
A well though out lighting plan is the single most visually and cost effective way to equip your living space with effective and immediate versatility. Proper consideration given to lighting arrangements will make for a much more functional home so spend time thinking about how you move around a room, the activities you do in it and the mood you want for it. Start with a carefully arranged plan of spotlights- most home decorating specialist shops will have an in-house lighting department who can help you draw one out. Look to install spotlights over the main areas/features in a living space or where specific tasks are undertaken (e.g. kitchen work surfaces, breakfast bar, settees, paintings or doorways). For increased flexibility spotlights should be fit with ability to work interdependently with a dimmer switch.
Not only will spotlights lead the eye around the room, directing attention to the areas you want to be seen (and away from areas you might not!) but they will help define separate areas therefore making your room appear larger. The dimmer switches will allow complete control over the mood of your home meaning the same light can provide a reading light, an ambient mood or a romantic setting. Dining areas can be made especially romantic if they are sectioned off from the rest of the house with a set of lacy voiles. The beautiful patterning of the fabric is shown off to amazing effect as light is allowed to pass through. Using curtain holdbacks will help keep them out of the way when not in use.
Although highly adaptable, ceiling spotlights alone cannot make an area truly multifunctional. Mid and low level lighting such table lamps, floor standing lamps and- for the more adventurous- floor-set up-lighting, all add another dimension to the atmosphere of a room and can instantly transform a space. Table and floor lamps are much less formal and intrusive than conventional ceiling lighting and help create intimacy by effectively lowering the height of a room.
Floor-set up-lighting (basically spotlights upside down) creates much more of a bar vibe and transforms a room by lighting it from an unusual position. Again the effect is much less overpowering than ceiling lighting and when placed along the perimeter of a room, they allow you to navigate your way around without spoiling nights in with a movie!
Remember, it is not solely during evening hours that the lighting you choose will have an effect on the look of your home. Even when switched off, a well chosen floor lamp can add style and interest to an otherwise minimal space. For example, an original or modern remake of a design classic such as the Arco lamp by iconic 1960’s designer Verner Panton, immediately creates an air of retro cool and provides a striking focal point for a room.
Alternatively, a chandelier (for those lucky enough to have high ceilings) placed over a dining area adds decadence to any dinner party and adds to the sense of occasion whilst lowering the light and helping avoid that cavernous feel.