Lighting Hints and Facts

Interior Lighting - General Background

  • Selection of lighting is a key element in interior design - it reveals and enhances everything from furniture, flooring and fittings through to colors, finishes and textures.
  • Lighting has a functional role - providing a level of illumination so that we can eat, work, relax and live comfortably.
  • Lighting can also play a leading role in creating an aesthetic environment, ambience or help convey mood.
  • The challenge is to use lighting to create areas of light and shade.
  • To create a visually dynamic space that is fun to live in.
  • Lighting has to maintain a balance between practical requirements and a desire for pleasing dramatic visual effects.

Down to Basics - Lighting can be reduced to three main essentials:

  • The Light source - the quality of light that the bulb emits
  • The Light fixture - its aesthetics, appearance and the way the fixture controls, directs or distributes light
  • The position of the light fixture (luminaire)

Distribution of LightingAmbient, Accent and Task Lighting are achieved by different distributions of light. The distribution depends on the type of light source used and the fitting which houses it.

Three types of light distribution:

  • Omni-directional - a light that disperses in all directions.
  • Semi-directional - where the majority of light goes in one direction, but a small quantity diffuses in other directions.
  • Directional - All light travels in one direction either as a narrow beam or a broad flood.

Types of Lighting

When looking for a solution to lighting problem it can be helpful to have a mental image of the three basic types of lighting. Ambient, Accent and Task Lighting.

  • Ambient Lighting - Also known as background lighting. On its own can be bland and indiscriminate, but used with other types of lighting it forms an integral part of an effective lighting scheme. Ambient light is most flattering to the human face, eliminating hash shadows, helping ease dark circles and softening age lines.
  • Accent Lighting - A key element of creative lighting design. Reveals color, texture and form by highlighting walls and objects around us.
  • Task Lighting - Well positioned and well directed lighting that provides localized light in specific areas for specific tasks.

Light Fitting Types

  • Within our industry we have a vast range of different types of lighting fixtures (luminaries). Each of these generic types control and distribute light in different ways. (Some for function, some for effect) By using a selection of these different types within a given space we can build up "layers of light".
  • The different types of light effects help create a visually dynamic space adding a sense of dimension, drama and interest to any room.
  • All mood lighting relies on uneven lighting and contrast, creating areas of light and shade.
  • Recessed Downlighting
    The primary building block of current residential lighting design provides quality light on the horizontal plane. Work tops, seating areas, transition areas, and stairwells discrete, low glare, cost effective.
  • Uplighting
    Both Wall mounting and free standing. Provides a low glare indirect, ambient light to any space. 200 - 300W linear halogen is the most commonly used light.
  • Wall Washing
    Usually achieved from recessed lighting in the ceiling to provide accent lighting on the vertical plane. ie: walls, bookshelves, fireplaces, feature walls of glass block, brick etc.....Also to illuminate artwork.
  • Wall Lights
    Used to provide a décor feature as well as softly washing the wall (and the ceiling) with subtle ambient light. Flattering to the face as it helps to remove shadowing.
  • Spotlighting
    On track, bars or individually mounted on ceiling. Use to provide accent lighting to dramatize artwork, features and as a task light say over a kitchen work surface.
  • Recessed Wall Lighting
    An exciting and highly innovative way of providing the "X-factor" in any space. Used 250mm off stairs  or in hallways to highlight transition areas and also mounted higher up in walls to provide an alluring, discrete uplight effect in any room.
  • Cove Lighting
    Lighting used behind coving to provide a soft ambient light. Very effective in lounges and bedrooms. Can be fluorescent (T5) or incandescent strip lighting.
  • Recessed Strip Lighting
    Used under shelves, on top of cupboards, behind furniture or in coves (pelmets) to provide dramatic accent light and effective localized task lighting, usually incorporating low profile T5 fluorescent units.
  • Track, Rail and Wire Systems
    Very useful when one has a ceiling or wiring access problem or if one wants to create a strong visual effect combined with a quality task lighting function over work surfaces, counters, dining and board tables.
  • Lighting Platforms
    An innovative approach of creating a minimalist but visually striking luminaire that is low profile but has a high light output eg. 12V 100W AR111 light sources.
  • Pendants
    A very important part of our lighting package. Fabric, spun metal, styrene and glass pendants all offer lighting solutions over counters and stairwells. Can be used for ambient light - especially when dimmed.
  • Chandeliers
    Crystal but any pendant that incorporates arms: Often used to make a strong decorative statement and are also very useful in creating soft, ambient light - especially when dimmed.
  • Ceiling Lights
    Usually in glass they are designed to provide a functional ambient light in any room. Cost effective and understated ceiling lights work well when used in conjunction with other light sources.
  • Table Lamps
    Important element that can work well in almost any area, Providing a décor statement as well as a soft diffused light off the ceiling, through the shade and from beneath the shade flatters people and places.
  • Desk Lamps
    Can make a design statement and provide an excellent task light.
  • Standard / Floor Lamps
    Similar function to that of a table lamp, however its height allows it to provide a quality of light over the back of a sofa (task) as well as general lighting into space (ambient).

Exterior Lighting - General Background

  • Historically for many homeowners, exterior lighting consists simply of a pair of lights either side of the front door with a pole lamp at the end of the driveway.
  • In line with the dramatic growth of the landscape industry, the art and science of lighting for exterior spaces has been greatly developed over recent years.
  • Lighting is such a powerful medium it can help make or break an exterior (or interior design).
  • Outdoor lighting has three primary objectives to achieve: safety, security and ambience (enhancement of structures and plants).
  • The current aim for lighting is for outside spaces is to create an understated natural feel. The trend is toward washing the plants, pathways, sculpture and architectural features with soft dramatic highlight.
  • Too much brightness can make it harder to see the surrounding environment and can cause everything to appear darker (too much contrast).
  • We are seeking to highlight the important features within a landscape and play down the less important parts, seeking to minimize the lightsource and maximizing the effect.
  • Lighting some areas of interest while leaving other areas in shadow creates a wonderful sense of depth, dimension and drama.