The secrets of good lighting, from plug placement down to dimmer switches

Interior designer Charlotte Crosland reveals the secrets of a well-lit home.

Why is lighting so important?

The wrong lighting can ruin a beautiful room in a second, so I’m fussy about getting it right. Sometimes, more consideration is given to lighting’s practical purpose than to the atmosphere it creates, but there needs to be a balance of both.

Any tips on planning?

If you can, plan the lighting at the start of the project and ensure there’s plenty of wiring to lend flexibility to move fittings around if you need to. In a sitting room, it’s useful to include some sockets in the floor where the sofa and armchairs will be, so you can add lamps on side tables and floor lamps for reading, close to the seating.

Charlotte Crosland

Spots or pendants?

In a sitting room, avoid any recessed ceiling spots, Instead, add a pretty pendant in the centre of the room, Elegantly lit: a pendant light, set off by table lamps, works well in a drawing room plus wall lights, picture lights for illuminating artwork, table lamps and so on, to create an even spread of light. This will create a smarter look than spotlight holes in the ceiling and ensure there are no dark areas in the room. Keep the spotlights for the kitchen and bathroom, areas where you need efficient task lighting.

What about shades?

Be wary of white-card lampshades, which can create a cold light. It’s worth spending a little money to find the right shade, such as a silk design that has more translucent qualities or one with a gold interior that will create a warm glow. Try the shade out over a bulb to see the effect before you buy.

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Charlotte Crosland

Are you a fan of pendant lights?

Pendant lights over a dining table can look very striking; often, I will hang a row of three above a rectangular table to light its length evenly. Make sure the lights are not hung too high above the table surface or they just look silly.

Of course, the best height for the fitting will depend on its size and the dimensions of the room in question, but – as a general guide – the three pendant lights above my dining table hang about 85cm (33óin) from its surface.

Are dimmers important?

Definitely: they allow you to alter the mood of the room as you please.

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