A WHOLE house, new landscaping, a single room — never underestimate the transformational power of lighting. The market is full of bright beauties and hard working wonders, and the design bar has never been higher.
Focus on light’s vital decorative and practical importance in your build or renovation adventure. Surrounding materials, including the walls, ceiling, floor and your chosen surface colours, will bounce, scatter or swallow the illumination from your lighting.
Colour is especially dependent on the quality and tone of the colour falling on it.
There are areas at home where general, atmospheric, accent or dedicated task lighting will hold sway. These roles and primary influences may marry and shift over the course of a day.
Many light fittings have a measure of versatility, and recessed ceiling lights matched to dimmers, together with adjustable spots and lamps are the unsung heroes of many gorgeous and well lived-in rooms from kitchens to corridors.
The energy saving wonders of LED has stimulated rather than frustrated design.
Layered together for bland duty, safe passage and sheer sensual feel, highly present ceiling hung, table and poised floor mounted pendants, densely pattered shades, and softly diffusing materials, can show off their attractive lines lit and unlit, day or night.
There will be chances in every home for show stoppers, glowing sculptures inhabiting the air at eye level. A shade can pool, rake and gentle the work of one or multiple bulbs.
The market is also influenced by the work of designers old and new — recent luminaries include the self taught OBE, Tom Dixon and the Spanish master, Arturo Alvarez and his close creative colleagues in La Coruña (where if they cannot make a material work for their seasonal opus, they simply create a brand new one).
Four figure examples of studio lighting winnow down to the high street and to online outlets in a matter of months with a click of difference — largely to the price. Better Chinese made examples of retro inspired lighting from reputable suppliers offer superb value. If there’s no maker name, but a retailer’s number, this often indicates a product from the Far East.
Examine the lighting performing on a showroom floor, with the dimensions, aspect, decor, and demands of your own rooms in mind.
AS WITH every fixture in your home, invest in the best quality you can afford with proven brands. The right level of light and a visual rhythm will give enormous impact as the space comes together.
Lighting consultants work independently and increasingly in-house as an extension of the services provided by good lighting retailers. Their expertise is money very well spent and an absolute necessity if this is your first try at large scale light work at home.
Lighting designer Shane O’Byrne, owner of ‘Light’ in Douglas village, is a specialist in European lighting. He argues that the light that actually suits best, doesn’t always come from a catalogue.
‘The use of coloured textured cables opens up a whole new trend enabling you to create your own piece that works specifically in your house the way you want it to.
“Together with the vast choice of cable colours and weaves, clients can complete the light concept with a wide range of accessories — from ceiling roses, lamp holders and various shades, cages and lamps.
“I love this personally as you can really create something unique to that space.”
As for Shane’s iconic favourites?
“‘I’ve used the MOOOI Random light on a lot of very different interiors and it works beautifully in all.
“A timeless shape and a simple lamp in the middle — it can fill a space yet not take over — beautiful when on as well as off.
“Another is the range of flat-pack lights from Vita— especially the EOS goose feather shades. These lights are well priced and each shade can be used as a pendant / floor or table lamp.”
What does a consultant bring to the table? “If I’m doing a project for someone — be it a complete house or just one room — I always try and get as much information as possible directly from the clients.
“It’s useful if they can collect multiple images from magazines, Pinterest and other sources showing their kitchen type for example, colours and ideas they love — it is their house after all.
“It’s easy to do a basic lighting layout based on an architect’s drawing but much better to spend the time getting that layout personalised to the client’s needs, style and ideas.
“A good supplier can access all the lighting required in an existing / new build and advice on where savings can be made on consumption— even working out running costs.
“All of my projects would require me to go back to the site as it’s progressing to see if what we chose from a drawing will actually work in reality, and making changes accordingly.”
Eibhlish Scannell lighting consultant with retailer ‘Lightplan’ in Cork, agrees that forward planning and professional input are crucial.
“The two most common mistakes in lighting would be under and overlighting an area as well as getting the size of fittings wrong for the space.
I always recommend getting your measuring tape out to visualise the fitting in the area and if you are concerned about the output, always ask for advice.
Plan ahead would be my strongest tip. At the early stages, decide on your lighting layout. We supply lighting consultations onsite and in our showroom.”
So what’s trending? “The main trend we’ve brought back from the trade shows is gold — which is taking the place of copper.
“It can be mixed with different tones and finishes — like stainless steel and brass and works well to deliver a luxurious finish with rich green tones labelled the colour of 2017 by Pantone.”
She also says that a mix of decorative and minimalist styles are slowly replacing the industrial trend of 2016.
“The progression of LED technology allows designers to create new limitless design concepts — this in the lighting and design world is very exciting and brings lighting to another level as well as being an economical win-win.”
Shane argues that an organic feel has persisted. “It’s still all about natural materials — timber, copper, brass, that deliver a very warm and calming appearance. Another fashion is geometric shapes in clear and smoked glass along with vintage style Edison lamps — the effects are stunning.