Lighting - How To Get It Right


A single source of light in a room is one of the most depressing things I keep seeing in interiors. The next being: magnolia walls and leather sofas. But let's leave those for another rant.




If it was up to me those paper pendants would disappear from the face of the earth


Today I would like to tell you a bit about lighting and how to get it right, for two reasons. First of all I would love for everyone to live in a beautifully designed, visually stimulating homes that are full of light and character. Secondly, so I don’t have to see this paper shade hanging in the middle of the room anymore!


Obviously I would always advise you to hire a professional, but if for whatever reason you decide to do it yourself, do it right.


If you don’t know where to start; 'Observe'. Years ago at a design conference I asked one of industry's well known designers, if she had any tips about how to do it right, and this was what she said:


“You need to observe”.


I thought gosh, thanks for that! But she was right and I understand now what she meant, and I am happy to share it with you..... When you visit hotels and restaurants, offices or your friends’ houses study your responses to light: when do you feel comfortable, relaxed, stressed, tired? What is the light doing at this point? What kind of light fittings contribute to that feeling? We all have very distinctive preferences that call for unique solutions. Intelligent design should prioritise our experience and optimise sense of well-being.

Most people think interior design is about choosing the right furniture, colours and accessories that look great together, and it does involve that, but also, and this is the most important aspect, it's interior design focuses on how a space makes you feel! It's about creating an atmosphere, where you can truly relax and feel at home, and lighting gives you that opportunity. So while you give yourself time to observe, I will tell you what else to consider in order to create a successful lighting scheme.


Start by assessing the natural light in each room, it’s best to do it on a dark gloomy day rather that on a bright and sunny as you need to prepare for the worse case scenario. Which direction does the room face? How much natural daylight is there at each time of day? A general rule is to plan for far more light than you think you will need, as it will prove useful in winter months or when like me, you live in a property that faces North. Also the more lighting you install the more options you will have, to create an atmosphere within a room.


A successful lighting scheme will offer plenty of flexibility to allow for multi-purpose functions so think of every activity that will take place in the space and aim to create balance between the four following categories:


General also known as ambient lighting- for general illumination of an area. It can come in various styles but it’s core goal is to provide a great distribution of light. We are talking here: pendants, spotlights, track lights, downlights. 


 Bedroom design with 3 glass pendants lights. STUDIO HOYNA


Task lighting used for activities like reading, chopping vegetables or applying make up, that require focused light. It can range from under cabinet lights to desk lamp or low level recessed stair lights.


The under cabinet lighting is dimmable so en the evening it produces a warm glow. Image: STUDIO HOYNA



Accent lighting is for those that want to create extra drama and character to highlight treasured artwork, sculpture or family heirloom. Applying accent lighting will draw attention towards what you want to stand out, for example picture light above beautiful oil painting or shelving with a LED tape installed inside a groove.


 Some gorgeous inspiration I picked up this year while visiting International Design Fair in Milan



And lastly Decorative lighting, often described as architectural jewellery creatively used to personalise the space. The key of balancing the light within a home is layering, and to fully understand it picture a bedroom that is functionally lit with a pendant that provides a certain amount of practical light and can also be dimmed. The simple addition of a bedside lamp or free-standing floor lamp by a reading chair will open out the sense of space and create warmer, cosier atmosphere.


Vintage lights bring character into a room. STUDIO HOYNA


The secret of good lighting is to have 3-4 circuits in each room, low-level circuit for table lamps, task lighting and floor lamps, recess lighting to highlight artwork, accent lighting; possible wall lights for ambient lighting and perhaps a circuit for lighting any built-in furniture or alcoves to add some drama. I like to include Christmas tree lights in the last one, even though we only use it once a year it makes a difference when you can switch off your tree without diving under every time you want to unplug it.


You might think, why would I need so many circuits in the bedroom? Trust me, many arguments about who’s turn it is to switch the light off could be avoided just by installing a switch at lower level between the bed and bedside table. Also if one of you wakes up earlier in the morning there is no need to disturb the other half, if you can get to the walk-in wardrobe by using the low level glow rather than illuminating the whole room like the football stadium.


Low voltage linear light sources provide bright light during the day and a mellow light when dimmed in the evening. STUDIO HOYNA


The same with the bathroom, you will need glare free general lighting, good task lighting around mirror, preferably on both sides at face level for shaving and applying make up and some gentle, dimmable illumination for relaxing bubble bath, after long day. There's nothing worse than a downlight above your head when you just want to unwind.


Dimmers are absolute must, they allow you to change the mood of a room by raising or lowering light levels and create different moods for different occasions. Also allow for floor sockets for large, open plan spaces where furniture, and therefore, lighting won't be up against the walls. Make sure you are happy with the furniture layout first as wiring will need to be installed at the first fix stages of a project.


There are many control systems available now, depending on your budget, you can choose from pre-set systems, that will allow you to select different scenes at the touch of a button, but they can be pricey. Much more budget friendly are Wireless Remote Control Sockets, which I think are brilliant as they allow you to remotely control hard-to-reach appliances and devices at the push of a button.


The home is your stage so once you decide on the mood think about all the things we just talked about, now go create, be adventurous, engage your senses.



I hope this article helps you come up with a better lighting scheme for your home. If you however still finding it tricky and need help, do get in touch at Whether you need some advice when furnishing entire home or would like some inspiration with choosing beautiful light fittings Studio Hoyna provides an affordable solution to all spaces.


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July 1, 2018

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