Perfect lighting: What to do, and what not to do to get it right

Interior designer Henriette von Stockhausen of VSP Interiors shares her secrets for getting the right lighting.

Mix it up

Try to include at least three different layers of light in a room, choosing a mix of table lamps, wall lights, picture lights and pendants. Unlike light from only one source, the layers will make the room feel more comfortable and offer you the flexibility to tailor the level of light to your mood and the time of day

Don’t go mad with downlights

Avoid creating a grid of a dozen downlights in the ceiling. It looks so unattractive and simply isn’t necessary. Much better to be selective: for example, if you want to light a hall picture with a ceiling down-light, put in the one required, but don’t pepper the length of the corridor with more. If you light the entire hallway from the top, it can feel uncomfortable. Instead, add some wall lights or table lamps on a console to create the layers of light you need.

Use dimmers – everywhere

Put every light on a dimmer switch. This is particularly important in enter-taining areas, such as the dining room, where you may wish to dim lights to allow candlelight to take precedence in the evening.

Exercise restraint with lampshades

Don’t put patterned lampshades everywhere, because your eye won’t know where to settle. Try to create balance by mixing in some plain shades, ideally with gold lining, so that they reflect light and cast a warm, rather than cold, glow.

Add a few magic touches with hidden lights

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Use hidden, indirect light to add a little magic, if you can. Tuck a small floor spot behind a beautiful object, at the base of a fireplace hidden behind a coal bucket or in the floor of a bay window behind a desk to create a gentle glow.

Get lamps that are big enough

Steer clear of lamps that are too small, because they can throw a whole room scheme out of balance. If in doubt, always opt for the next size up.

VSP Interiors –

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