Why lighting a room is more complicated than it seems

July 20, 2021

Lighting your room effectively can be tricky. The number of lights and their positions in a room can make or break the whole atmosphere. And a lot goes into deciding where you should install lights. For example, you may have to consider different lighting placements depending on whether the room will be functional (kitchen), social (dining room), or for entertainment (cinema room). Often, you’ll simply be at the mercy of how the builders decided to install your lights in the first place. So, how can you use lights to get the most out of your home?

Throwing shade

The sad truth is that, a lot of the time, builders won’t be overly concerned about light placements. Because of this they will often install lights in the dead centre of a room using a very predictable grid pattern. And that’s not always a problem. For some rooms, having the main light source in the centre can work just fine. However, it can become an issue if a room has large, attractive doors or windows which will naturally grab attention. Any lights that don’t work in harmony with those features will just seem strange.

Another thing that can change a room’s ambience is a large piece of furniture, particularly if it is the centre point of that room. A fireplace will often dictate how a room is used, and the lighting in that room should be built around it. As a fundamental, you’ll also want to make sure that large pieces of furniture don’t clash with your lights to create dark spots. Fortunately, there are a few ideas to follow depending on which room you’re working with.

Room by room

A basic rule to follow is that lights should centre over the main attraction in the room. This is not only to ensure proper lighting for your activities, but to focus attention on the main attractions. This will change depending on which kind of room you’re lighting:

  • Functional rooms: Your kitchen and bathroom should be very well lit in general. Often, this will include an array of lights to allow for proper use of that room. Overhead lights can also be used to focus attention on breakfast areas, if your kitchen has one.
  • Social rooms: In your dining room, your main light source should hang directly over the dining table. Anything else can create shadows and harm the ambience. If you have a fireplace, lights should draw attention to it.
  • Entertainment rooms: In your living room or home cinema, lighting should help focus your attention on your screen; that’s what you’re in there for. Softer lighting accessories can help create an atmosphere but should not be the main focus of the room.

If you are working with a very large or odd-shaped room, you’ll want to consider multiple light sources and plan how those interact with each other.

How to make it happen

So, you’re looking to make your lighting work for you? There are a few ways you can make changes. If you are creating your room from scratch, then rewiring and planning perfect placement is the best way. You’ll be able to get the absolute most from your space. If a full rewire isn’t an option, then you can look to complement existing lights with cleverly placed secondary lights. In rooms where attention needs to be on one spot, such as a dining room, you may be able to use longer leads or chains, along with hooks, to make your light hang exactly where it needs to.

Light up your life

Lighting can sometimes be a bit of an afterthought when it comes to planning your rooms, but it can be critical for creating the right mood. Ask the team at SONA about how our experts can help you get the most out of your space.