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A guide to how lighting affects the ambience of a room

Quite often the lighting in a room is overlooked during the decorating process and the overall ambience can be lost because of this. Lighting is just as important as paint, wallpaper, furniture and soft furnishings and proper use of the correct lights can lift a room from just nice to extraordinary.

Before you start remember that the colours in your room can be affected by the type of lights you use. Some light fittings, like LED’s will make your primary colours stand out, whereas others like halogens will enhance the more subdued colours in your room. Halogen lights are a good choice as they tend to work well with most colour schemes.

These days there are light fittings to fit any and every room, no matter what your décor or style. From statement chandeliers to LED down-lighters, from stunning wall lights to embedded diffusers, whatever your needs there is a light fitting for you.

Many people look for ways to make their rooms feel larger, airier and more open and there are many ways to achieve this. The best choice for many reasons is natural light, this is the light that you get through your windows, skylights and even doors. Natural light will always give a room a brighter more open look and feel, but what can you do if your access to natural light is limited?

The first thing you need to create is a good base layer lighting that illuminates right through the room and into all corners, this needs to be quite subtle and not too harsh. Try using several ceiling lights or use wall lights that give a diffused light across a wall, even up-lighters can bounce light from floor to ceiling giving a lighter brighter effect.

A good tip is to highlight one wall slightly more than the rest of the room and this has the effect of drawing the eye through the room making it appear bigger and brighter. If possible always install a dimmer switch as this will give you the ability to lower your lighting levels to create different moods. A dimmer is also a good idea as it will reduce your energy usage and therefore your overall costs.

Once you have achieved your base light it is time to add the extra levels of lighting that will give the ambience that your room needs, such as accent, mood and task lighting. This will obviously depend on the room you are working on, a bedroom will need a different overall feel to a bathroom or lounge.

To achieve a soft mellow light perhaps in a cosy corner of the lounge use a stand alone table lamp or floor lamp with a subdued shade or have a dimmable directional spotlight. If possible have several different lamps that can be used to create whichever effect your mood requires.

In a bedroom you might want to add some romantic lighting using softer bedside lights but will also need a fairly bright light for normal day to day routines. A child's bedroom can benefit from colourful light bulbs or lamp shades to give a fun atmosphere, dimmer lights are also a good idea for a child's room.

In the bathroom a warm glow can be achieved by using a modern ceiling light, but you may well want to install extra lights over the sink where shaving and applying make-up might need a brighter light. LED’s or light reflecting diodes are perfect for this as they give a bright white type of light.

The kitchen is a very important room in most households, it is not only the place where you prepare food and eat it is also the room where people get together on a regular basis. The correct lighting levels can encourage people to relax during mealtimes and this in turn makes people feel more comfortable.

Remember in the kitchen that you will need several different lighting sources, bright LED down-lighters under cabinets are ideal to create a pool of strong light for preparing food or washing up. Whilst in the dining room or over the dining table the light should be capable of being both bright when needed but also subtle for intimate meal times. A dimmer switch is ideal for this purpose and a great alternative to open flame candles.

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