Interior Designers and their clients too often underestimate the importance of lighting design, which is value engineered out of their residential projects. But they are ultimately missing the simple fact that it is pointless to design beautiful interiors if you can’t properly see them.
Good lighting design helps you to improve the perception of a space and its features, it can enhance its architecture and guide you through an experiential journey by changing the mood of a room and placing all the accents where needed. We decided to put together a basic guide to help you understand how lighting design can benefit to your residential project.
Lighting, both natural and artificial, is probably something that should be considered even before the start of the design process as it helps perceive the space and how it is going to be used from the day through the night.
One common mistake that architects and interior designers too often make is to overload the ceiling with down-lights, creating an undifferentiated grid which ultimately highlights just the floor. This sometimes leaves to the client the burden to chose the decorative fixtures, which are picked depending on how good the hardware looks like above the quality of the light that is being cast.
Good residential lighting design should help differentiate zones and establish hierarchies within the space by curating and layering different types of lights. Below we will briefly explain you the use of focus lights, directional lights, decorative lights and joinery lights.
Focus lights are usually placed within the centre of the space or an area and help define the function of the space itself. It can be a chandelier above the dining table, a narrow beam highlighting the living area coffee table or ceiling lights giving plenty of task light onto the kitchen island.
Directional lights are great to enhance the vertical surfaces you want to see and create a soft ambient light bouncing back into the room. Good examples are to highlight the artworks on the wall, illuminate the kitchen cupboards and other architectural features or focal points.
Decorative lights at low level can be a great way to warm up and to change the mood of a space. These can be the table lights upon a console table, the reading light near the armchair or the sofa, the wall lights in the hallway.
Linear lights recessed into the joinery units are great to give depth and enhance surfaces in case of bookshelves or wardrobes, to give a discreet task light onto the worktable from within the kitchen hung units, or within the bathroom mirrors as they give a flattering light on the skin.
Colour temperature plays a huge role in determining the mood of a space, with warm light being more relaxing, cozy and intimate while cold light being more adapt for working, cooking or exercising. There are so many temperature variations and it is within the designer flair to chose the right one for your particular project.
There are a few other factors which are more technical, such as lighting controls, dimming, color rendering index (CRI) and more, which can’t be treated in a single post.
Ultimately, for a quality residential lighting design it is important to understand the specifics of the space, to create different zones, to avoid undifferentiated grids of lights, to become creative and highlight features, to layer lighting by using a mix of focus, ambient, task and ambient lighting for good depth.
I hope you’ll have some fun in experimenting with light for your residential project and please stick around for more tips on lighting design for commercial spaces.