Short of redecorating once a fortnight, the most visually impacting and cost effective way of creating adaptable space in your home is strategic use of lighting. What was once a mere afterthought, given consideration only out of necessity, lighting is now rightly recognized as a key feature to rank alongside the brand new settee or the fitted kitchen. Proper use of lighting can add drama and life, it can soothe or invigorate, in other words it is powerful enough to determine our moods. Lighting floods every inch of a room in whatever you want- a summer day, an gentle glow, a starry night, a spotlight to aim at anything you please. Can your settee do all of this?
A centrally placed pendant which gives only the option of solar flare bright or pitch black night, no longer meets the needs of the modern homeowner. A far more sensible option is to install spot lights over the main areas of a room or where specific tasks are undertaken (e.g. kitchen work surfaces, breakfast bar, settees, paintings or doorways).
The spotlights should be fitted with the ability to be switched on or off independently and a dimmer switch should be used in place of traditional one. 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.
Although highly adaptable, ceiling spotlights alone cannot make an area truly multifunctional. Mid and low level lighting such as plinth lamps , stick 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.
Creativity is key- be brave.