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DECOR ADVICE: The light stuff

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Create a welcoming atmosphere in your home by paying attention to where you place your lights - and what type you use

When a room is lit correctly, everyone looks their best and feels relaxed and comfortable, but they don’t know why. This is the art of lighting – it should be subtle but hard-working.

Get it wrong, and your space can look like a clinical hospital theatre – or a dingy cave. “The most common mistake people make is using a single light in a space,” says Katrin Herrmann-van Dyk, creative director at Haus. Here’s what to keep in mind when lighting your house like a pro.

Picture: Supplied

Consider your needs:

This involves assessing your space and working out how and when it will be used. Melissa Davidson from The Lighting Warehouse says: “Consider what times of day you will mostly use the room, where you will do what, how much natural light it receives, and where the windows are.

By having a good understanding of the layout of the room, the orientation and quality of the natural light, as well as how the room will be used, you will have all the necessary information to design a practical and attractive lighting scheme.”

Learn the art of layering:

It doesn’t matter whether your space is big or small, layered lighting schemes are always best. “Layering allows you to combine different needs and purposes into one space,” says Herrmann-van Dyk.

“For instance, the kitchen will need stronger lighting while a casual seating area next to it will need a softer approach.”

Davidson says the main lighting layers you should include are:

Task lighting: To illuminate areas where you need good visibility, such as near the stove or at the bathroom basin.

Downlights: These provide good ambient light with a comfortable level of brightness. Position them around the sides of the room instead of the middle to avoid shadows.

Feature lighting: These can be used to highlight particular features in the room, such as an artwork or side tables, or to create a pleasant overall ambience. 

Keep up with trends: “South African homeowners are looking for minimalist pieces that have a strong tendency towards natural materials, sustainability and skilled handwork,” says Herrmann-van Dyk.

“We’ve also seen an interest in the European downlight trend and dome-covered lights. Studies have shown this type of lighting can elevate happiness.” 

Davdison says Moroccan-style pendants are also hugely popular. “These eyecatching pieces can be meshed with nearly every form of décor – from traditional to minimalist and modern.”

In the bathroom: Some experts say go the clinical route – the brighter the better – especially near the basin and mirrors. Others suggest a softer glow from dimmable sconces. Compromise and incorporate both with the addition of candles that will help you unwind at the end of the day.

Remember, waterproof lighting is ranked by IP (Ingress Protection) ratings – the higher the IP rating, the more water-resistant the light fitting is.

“Any bathroom light should have a minimum IP44 rating, which ensures the light is sealed and splashproof,” Davidson says.

In the kitchen: Gone are the days of a single fluorescent light slapped in the middle of the kitchen ceiling. Use elegant LED downlighters to introduce ambient and task lighting to your kitchen.

Today’s kitchens feature stylish and creative lighting ideas. Picture: Supplied

“Over-cabinet lighting is a clever way of creating the illusion of added height in the room, which makes the space seem larger and airier than it actually is,” says Davidson.

“Mount these lights directly on top of your cabinetry, where they can be positioned to illuminate displays and spread a warm and inviting light on the walls and ceiling above.”

For under cabinets, LED slimline fittings and striplights work well.

In the dining room: Pendants or chandeliers are great for general or ambient lighting, and can provide visual interest.

Pendant lights in a dining room provide visual interest. Picture: Supplied

“Select smaller pendants that can be installed next to one another for a more open feel and to distinguish the space,” Davidson suggests. “Or choose bigger, heavier fittings to make a decorative statement.” 

Why should you switch to LED? 

Davidson provides the reasons.

1 You will save money on electricity bills: An LED globe lasts a minimum of five times longer than a CFL globe, and the LED globe will use considerably less energy during its lifespan. You can save up to 90% energy by switching to LED globes.

2 They’re eco-friendly: All the components inherent in an LED globe are recyclable.

3 Instant light: When switching on a CFL globe, there is slight flickering before full brightness is achieved. LED globes offer full illumination the second they are switched on.

4 They’re dimmable: Dimmable LED globes are designed to work with purpose-built LED dimmer switches to create mood lighting.

5 They don’t generate heat: Incandescent bulbs are culprits when it comes to unnecessary in-home heat generation. LED globes remain cool when functioning.


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