Buying Guide: Designer Lighting

When it comes to setting the tone in your home's interior the right lighting is crucial and the Houseology Designer Lighting Buying Guide is here to help you choose.


Buying Guides

Lighting creates mood and atmosphere in your home and ensures you can achieve the feeling of a relaxed, welcoming space. To help make lighting shopping hassle free, our design team has put together a guide to everything you need to consider to make your lighting selection a success.

01.Lighting styles

Your lighting fixtures are a key opportunity to define and reinforce your design style. Consider the overall look you want to achieve and how the shapes, materials and designs you choose for your lighting fixtures can have an impact on your design scheme. Here’s what to look for when buying pieces to create each of our three signature looks:

To achieve the Chic look, seek out warm materials and timeless designs to create an effortless, laid-back feel. Neutral tones and natural materials like linen and wood work well, along with polished chrome and smoked glass.

For a more Urban take, look for clean lines, crisp colours and Scandic influences to create a cool contemporary feel. A series of statement pendants and modern shapes will all help bring your Urban design scheme to life.

Lighting fixtures with elegant shapes and rich materials will help achieve an opulent, Luxe look in your space. Create drama with sophisticated lampshades in black teamed with luxurious bases in chrome, glass or reflective materials.

Designer Lighting Buying Guide - lighting collection

02.Essential lighting

The best decorative lighting fixtures will balance functional needs with the style, age and character of your home. Choose fixtures that enhance the space and provide the level of light you need.

1. Pendants
Pendant lights are perfect for creating ambient light and are most often used for stairs, living rooms, dining rooms and entryways. You can make sure your pendant lighting is in proportion by measuring the space and assessing the ceiling height. Ceilings which are less than eight feet high work best with mounts that are flush or semi-flush so you can maximise the available height. Higher ceilings are more versatile; cathedral ceilings and ceilings more than 10 feet high look great with hanging pendants and statement chandeliers.

In general, the larger the room, the wider the light fitting should be – bulbs will be spread further apart and throw light further into the room. Larger rooms will need larger chandeliers or ceiling lights to illuminate the space evenly.

Designer Lighting Buying Guide - Louis Poulsen Artichoke

2. Wall Lights
Wall lighting is an unobtrusive way to introduce accent and ambient light into a space. These fixtures are particularly useful in narrow spaces, small rooms and areas with low ceilings, as they can provide brightness without taking up additional room.

Wall sconces, wall lamps and picture lights don’t need to be subtle – they can add drama and interest to the room and can also help to create repetition and symmetry.

In addition to style, height placement is important here – too high or too low and the proportions of the room will feel strange. Your wall lights should be high enough that you can’t look down into the fixture and be in your natural line of sight.

3. Lamps
Lamps are the most versatile lighting fixtures because they are easy to move around a space which can completely change the feel of a room. Consider how both your base and shades can work together to achieve the desired effect – buying these pieces separately gives you more options and an extra opportunity to add your own unique stamp.

Floor lamps are an easy way to add light to darker corners of the room and also introduce height and interest to your space. If a floor lamp is going to be in a high traffic area, make sure it’s heavy enough to ensure that it doesn’t fall over when there’s movement in the room. Also consider scale here and how your lamp will look when arranged with the other furniture in your space.

Invest in the right lamp base and it will last you through several room changes. Large bases create impact and add weight to your design scheme, while more delicate bases work in rooms that are already short on space. Look at the finish and how it matches with the other materials already in your room to ensure your base will work. Consider the height of the base and the height of the table it will be resting on – a bedside table may require a taller base to ensure the light is at the right angle for reading in bed.

Designer Lighting Buying Guide - desk lamps

03.Types of lampshade

Lampshades can help you control light and offer the opportunity to accent your colour scheme, introduce pattern and texture or make subtle seasonal changes.

The shape, material and opacity will all affect the quality of light. If you are using your lamp as accent or ambient lighting, choose a shade that will filter light and create a soft glow. Task lamps on the other hand require shades that will maintain the quality of light and still provide enough illumination. There are two main types of shade:

Shades made from sheer fabric or paper, perfect for reading and adding ambient light.

Shades made from materials like silk, thick parchment or laminated card. They will direct light in defined, up-and-down beams, and work well to help highlight objects or areas and set the mood in your space.

There are dozens of shapes you can choose from to complement your lamp base. Some of the most popular include:

A circular-shaped shade where the sides are vertical. Drum shades tend to be short and wide while more traditional cylinder shades are tall and thinner.

A square or rectangular shaped shade with sharp edges that works best with cornered bases.

A simple shade that fans outwards in an A-like shape, where the bottom is roughly twice as wide as the top.

A simple shade with a bottom width three or four times larger than the top that pushes light and emits it from the bottom of the shade.

Proportion is key. Look for a shade that’s just under half the size of the base and approximately double the width – too big and your lamp will feel top heavy, too short and your lamp will feel off balance. Consider placement too – if your lamp is going to be in a hallway or on a bedside table, make sure it’s the right height so you don’t bump into it or risk knocking it over as you try to switch it on and off.

Designer Lighting Buying Guide - table lamps

04.Choosing light bulbs

Under recent legislation, the traditional incandescent or tungsten light bulbs have been phased out of production and replaced with safer, more sustainable alternatives. While this is a good thing – energy saving bulbs are better for the environment and last tens of thousands of hours on average – it does present a unique challenge to homeowners trying to create their perfect lighting scheme.

Classic tungsten bulbs emit an instant warm, radiant light – they naturally create atmosphere and are what many of us look for when we go shopping for light bulbs. Energy saving bulbs on the other hand tend to naturally omit a cooler, white light and can take anywhere from a few seconds to up to a minute to fully come to life.

To find the right energy-efficient bulb, look at lumens instead of watts – a typical incandescent bulb emits 800 lumens, so finding a light bulb in that range will replicate the level of brightness. Many LED light bulbs will also indicate a colour rating – warm light, soft light, and bright white are three of the most common. In general, warm light and soft light LEDs are closest in tone to incandescent bulbs and perfect for the living room and bedroom. Bright white bulbs on the other hand are really well suited to workspaces and areas of the home like the kitchen.

Designer Lighting Buying Guide - light bulbs

05.IP ratings explained

One last thing to consider with your lighting is the IP rating. The Ingress Protection (IP) rating is an important factor when buying a light for outdoors of for the bathroom. The code is designed to give us a quick understanding of how well-protected a light fitting is – the higher the rating, the higher the protection.

The rating scale is comprised of two numbers ranging from 0 to 8. The first digit indicates how protected the light is from anything (such as dust) getting inside. A rating of 0 means no special protection, while a rating of 6 indicates the light is dust tight.

The second number indicates how much moisture the light can withstand, either from drips or by being submerged in water. 0 indicates no special protection, while the maximum rating of 8 means the light is protected from continuous submersion.

Lights for outdoors and for the bathroom need a minimum IP44 rating, though the placement of your light may mean you want even greater protection. A security light on the side of your home, for example, would need a higher IP rating to ensure it’s safe and protected against water and any foreign bodies.

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