Getting light right

Autumn’s here, which means it’s time to rethink your lighting. Sally Storey, design director of John Cullen Lighting, and the lighting expert, gives us some tips on getting light right. It’s no longer just about hanging up a pendant and adding a few side lamps…

1. If you are renovating a house, plan your lighting scheme at the very beginning to achieve the best results.

2. Before any decisions are made on lighting, consider how you will use the room.  Think how activities change throughout the day. In the kitchen you may need a bright light to prepare food and for children to do their homework, but at night you might want to create an atmospheric setting for dinner.

3. Fit dimmers so that you can change the mood of the room.  Having more than one dimmer will allow you to create a variety of lighting effects.

4. Your eye is always drawn to the brightest point so look for down lights which conceal the bulb, then the object you are lighting will become the key focus rather than the light source itself.  The John Cullen LED Polespring has been designed to achieve this.

5. When using down lights, don’t worry so much about symmetry. Instead think of what you want to light, and focus the light in the centre of a picture or over a dining table.

6. Think of layering lights at different levels and heights, building up a palette of effects. Use low-level uplights to light an archway or a corner of a room, wall-recessed floor washers along a corridor or staircase, individually light shelves and niches. Combine these effects with beautiful table lights. More simply, try hanging lights at lots of different heights for a dramatic centrepiece.

7. And finally, don’t be afraid to combine traditional lighting effects with modern solutions, like chandeliers with downlights. The chandelier should always be dimmed separately to create a decorative sparkle, but leaving the discreet downlights to do the work.

John Cullen Lighting offers a full lighting design service, holds in-house lectures, has a large range on innovative lights to choose from, and the people who work there are the experts in their field. John Cullen Lighting, 561 – 563 King’s Road, SW6 2EB.

Eight shops that light up the capital…
For drama:
Ochre is the place to go for a contemporary take on the traditional. They stock a delightful range of chandeliers and wall lights, with evocative names like Light Drizzle – a 215cm drop of glass beads gives the impression of sunshine glimmering through the rain.
Ochre, 46-47 Britton Street, EC1M 5UJ.

For pure simplicity: From table lights to wall lights and lights for your garden, Geoffrey Harris stocks a huge range that are functional, stylish and understated.
Geoffrey Harris Lighting, 537 Battersea Park Road, SW11 3BL.

For opulence: To add some glamour to a room, Rainbow London and Alfie’s Antiques both stock a fabulous and ever changing range of vintage chandeliers.
Rainbow London, 329 Lillie Road, SW6 7NR. Alfie’s Antiques, 13-25 Church Street, NW8 8DT.

For value: B&Q has a great range of designer-look lights, but at a fraction of the price of the real deal. Look out especially for their version of the classic anglepoise, the Isaac desk lamp, which come in a range of retro colours and costs just £14.98. Go to: to find your nearest store.

For a retro classic: After Noah is perfect if you love vintage pieces.  The shop has a unique choice of salvaged industrial desk lamps and reconditioned factory lights that date back to the 1930s, as well as a selection of beautiful glass shades dating from the 1920s, starting from £245. After Noah, 121 Upper Street, N1 1QP.

For practical purposes: An almost infinite selection of lights, for every area of the home, Mr Light is guaranteed to have the practical solution to your lighting dilemmas. Mr Light, 275 Fulham Road, SW10 9PZ.

For a little bit of fun: SKK are the initials of designer Shiu-Kay Kan. He’s created lighting schemes for some of London’s best-known shops and hotels, but we love him for his colourful character lights in the shape of dogs, ducks, gorillas and more. They start at around £65. SKK, 34 Lexington Street, W1F OLH.

And in support of young British designers… At a time where incandescent lightbulbs are being phased out in major stores (IKEA and B&Q to name but two), Lee Broom’s Crystal Bulb is a nostalgic memento of Edison’s great invention, and it’s been nominated for this 2012 ELLE Decoration British Design Awards. Available from Caravan, 5 Ravenscroft Street, E2 7SL.

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