A credit for Country Life and issued September 20, 2023.
The rights to the layouts and copy contained therein are held by Country Life magazine exclusively.
A credit for Country Life and issued September 20, 2023.
The rights to the layouts and copy contained therein are held by Country Life magazine exclusively.
From minimising glare in living rooms to zoning your kitchen, we asked lighting designers for their best pieces of advice for each room in the house
Even the most ardent of design enthusiasts can find choosing the right lights tricky. After all, wielding a paint chart with aplomb is one thing, but executing an effective lighting scheme is quite another. The temptation is to keep it simple, which is a pity because good lighting elevates, and can even transform a space.
As creative director and co-founder of Porta Romana Andrew Hills explains: ‘Lighting is all about layering. A good lighting scheme is always a blend of architectural lighting, functional lighting and well-positioned decorative lighting that adds character and beauty to the room.’
So be bold! We asked some top lighting designers for their advice for each room in the house, including Luke Thomas, design director at John Cullen Lighting, Jo Mann, founder and design director at Light House Designs, Andrew Molyneux, co-founder of art lighting specialists TM Lighting, and Sally Stephenson, design director at Owl Lighting. Their easy-to-follow tips are the perfect place to start.
Dramatic staircase lighting by John Cullen
Phos is part of a family group of UK based engineering companies called The Cadisch Group, founded in 1883, spanning five generations.
Our deep understanding of metals has been passed down through generations, successfully demonstrated across multiple industries and sectors, including supply to the world’s most reputable aircraft and automotive brands, the Ministry of Defence and even gaining a Royal warrant.
This manufacturing experience combined with the latest LED technology allows us to create some of the most functional,customisable and beautifully crafted luminaires in the world.
A SUSTAINED APPROACH
For the past 12 years Phos has employed the principles of a circular economy in their manufacturing processes. They have always given an unlimited duty of care on all the components they manufacture. As a British manufacturer, they are supported by a local community of suppliers of services, components and products, thus reducing their overall carbon footprint. This also enables Phos to reduce delivery times, maintaining better control of their manufacturing process and most importantly, gives them the ability to easily repair or adapt fittings after installation, ensuring they preserve the planet’s vital resources.
Since our inception in 1979 we have been repairing and upgrading large and interior focused products. Repairing miniature exterior rated products on the other hand, has been more difficult and previously only involved re-using the bezel, disposing of the rest of the fitting.
To tackle the issue of material waste and circularity on our miniature fitting range, in 2019 we began designing our replaceable light engine solution.
The main challenge during development was ensuring high IP ratings were maintained, as our products are often used in harsh marine settings and over 40 years of experience has gone into our unique method of sealing them against water ingress.
In June 2022, after extensive testing, we launched our exterior rated RLE1 system across 15 products, with this number set to increase imminently. RLE1 joins the existing RLE2 and RLE3 systems, which have been available on our LD42, LD43 and miniature downlight range (LD71DR, LD71M, LD72DR, LD72M) for several years.
The system is an original and innovative design which provides customers with an unlimited ability to repair and upgrade LED fittings at any stage in their lifecycle, renewing them for decades, with minimal material waste as a result.
We are the first manufacturer to implement an innovation of this kind across a miniature range of exterior products, that maintain an IP67 rating.
All the systems are based on a single modular engine insert consisting of the LED and optic, which reduces project lead times and can be easily disassembled at the end of life for recycling.
Physical repairs and upgrades can be conducted onsite, removing the need to return the fitting to us to await repair and halving the shipping emissions associated with this.
Not only can RLE reduce waste at the end of a fitting’s life, but it also reduces waste generated through error, if an incorrect beam angle or colour temperature has been specified on a project.
Samples requests also benefit from reusing the same body and engine insert, simply swapping the optic to test different beam angles or the engine insert if various colour temperatures are required.
Tackling the miniature range is just the start of our RLE initiative and we look forward to continuing its integration across more product groups. With over 90% of our fittings repairable currently and most featuring similar RLE systems, we are swiftly working on the remaining 10%.
Here at Light House Designs are very proud to partner with responsible manufacturers such as those with continued commitment to sustainability and reducing waste with an ethical approach which is aligned with our beliefs and our customers desires to ensure a sustainable future.
What’s the problem?
The world has pressing environmental and societal problems, like pollution and global warming.
But the problem is much wider than this. We live in an increasingly unstable world caused by extreme inequality, both within individual countries, and, even more starkly, between the developed and developing world.
One important contributor to the problem is the single use of virgin materials.
The role of virgin materials
Most manufactured products use finite virgin materials such as copper or oil.
In developed countries we use virgin materials thoughtlessly. Our rampant single-use consumerism extracts virgin materials from the land and sea, which we then process into single-use products such as takeaway cartons or light fittings, before disposing them in recycling or landfill.
There is a huge environmental cost to this throwaway consumerism. And there is a further cost to developing countries. Virgin materials are scarce. Every time the developed world uses finite virgin materials, we drive up the price, making them less affordable, ultimately restricting the developing world’s ability to progress.
The extraction and processing of virgin materials is increasing inequalities across the world, as well as being perhaps the largest cause of environmental degradation.
How did we get here?
The race to become wealthier and satisfy immediate consumer needs has meant that we, in the developed world, have moved from a repair model to a short-term, throwaway consumer mentality.
We use a product once and then throw it away. This has suited manufacturers as well as consumers. Manufacturers like this linear throwaway manufacturing model as they can sell more products – made cheaply overseas – to consumers who are addicted to cheap sticker prices.
The problem is that the planet and poorer countries are paying the price.
The washing machine example
Consumers will often purchase a new washing machine, for example, based on a low sticker purchase price. Manufacturers then design to that price, producing models that won’t last as long, and aren’t easily repaired. We use the machine for a short period, say two to three years, then dispose of the product into landfill, before buying another equally throwaway replacement.
What is the circular model?
The circular model recognises that we must value virgin materials and not treat them as single-use materials.
In practice this means using less virgin materials when manufacturing products, but more importantly, designing products to last much longer, with spare parts and which are fully repairable.
The aim is that the materials have a longer life and that the materials re-enter the cycle when no longer needed, meaning we use less virgin materials.
In what way are Orluna’s products circular?
All Orluna products are circular:
– Less virgin materials in primary manufacture
– 20-year spare parts and repair
– End-of-life service where we take back fittings, repair and test returned products so that they can go back into standard stock.
We at Light House Designs are very proud to partner with responsible manufacturers such as those with continued commitment to sustainability and creating a circular economy within the lighting industry, this ethical approach is aligned with our beliefs and our customers desires to ensure a sustainable future.
Although we have five fantastic senses, we tend to experience our environment mainly through our vision. And there is so much to see: your smartphone, the computer screen you are reading this on, the corridor you walk through, a billboard, a window display you passed, the pavement (watch that poop; why do dog owners not collect that!?), the person you are talking to, your phone (again), watch that cyclist!! (phew), your phone (again??)… our eyes are very busy from the moment we open them in the morning to the time we close them at night. But do you actually look around?? Really observe your surroundings?
For example, when was the last time you observed light?
Look outside – is it day or night? Can you see Sunlight or are the skies overcast? What is the difference in the type of daylight you see? Did you notice that direct sunlight produces strong, sharp shadows whereas overcast daylight produces very soft, diffused, evenly distributed light? That is why we refer to light during the daytime as daylight not just sunlight, because there can still be plenty of light even if the sun is hidden behind clouds.
And if the clouds are scattered, and there is some wind, I highly recommend you take time to look at how the daylight changes over time. How the sunlight morphs from direct (=cloudless/clear) to indirect (=cloud/overcast) and what it does to light as it hits various objects around you, for example trees or buildings or people. Make sure you notice both the light and its close companion, the shadow. Their relationship is the stuff of imagination and storytelling. And remember, this is not a series of finite states, of still pictures, but an ever-changing, constantly evolving action movie you are seeing.
And this is just during the daytime. Between day and night we have the joy of seeing a spectacular display of light that passes through three main stages: Dusk (transition between day to night), Twilight (time between day and night when there is still light outside, but the Sun is below the horizon) and Dawn (transition from night to day). There are also different states of Twilight depending on whether you are in the city, countryside or at sea that defines how dark the environment is. It is very interesting; I encourage you to look it up.
As you can see, daytime illumination offers so much to the willing observer, wait until we look at the magic of human-made, electrical light.
Consider some of the differences between daylight and electric light:
For example, think about illuminance (simply put = the perceived brightness of a space): is the daylight brighter or dimmer than electric light? Do you perceive your street to be bright or dim? What about your car interior – is it bright or dim? Have you ever looked out at night during a cloudless, full moon and marvelled at how bright it seems? It is fascinating to observe how little light we actually need to navigate our surroundings.
How about the colour of light? Daylight is confusingly very cool (blue) by definition (around 6500K CCT), whereas electric light, certainly in domestic environments, is usually perceived as warm (around 2700K CCT or below). Recent research has reiterated for us that the colour of light (or its Spectral Distribution to be precise) does impact our wellbeing, so very broadly speaking we are “energised” by cool white light and “relaxed” by warm white light.
What about direction of light? Where is the electric light coming from: ABOVE (e.g ceiling downlights, spotlights or pendant) SIDES (e.g wall light) or BELOW (e.g in-ground uplight or floor light)? Daylight originates above us, in the sky, though you could also argue that because daylight gets reflected by everything around us, the cumulative effect is omni-directional (=multi-directional). The direction of the light will impact how objects are perceived, and instinctively create a certain mood or perception based on our evolution. For example, uplighting is often dramatic (think campfire or old scary movies) whereas wall lights are typically quite warm and reassuring (because we can see faces more clearly).
Observing the world around us is a key part of what we do at Light House Designs. It guides our choices, informs our decisions, not to mention inspires us. From the dapple effect of sunshine passing through a tree, to the warm glow of a fireplace and the countless stars in the skies. There is so much to see, if we just stop, and look around.
Some people prefer to cruise through life without a care in the world; “don’t sweat the small stuff” they say, “chillax”… whereas others need to have a tight handle on every, single detail of every, single thing. And you? Somewhere along that scale, I imagine.
Lighting control is quite similar – there is a range of options to choose from depending on your preference, budget, the size of the lighting installation and its technical complexity. And yes, it also depends on how much control you want to have: little / some / complete control. So I ask again: are you a control freak?
For simplicity, let us divide lighting control solutions into two main categories: manual and automated.
Largely speaking, manual lighting control will involve a switch that operates lights. It may be a dimmable switch (to increase and decrease the brightness) and it may control more than one light fitting. But that is pretty much the extent of functionality we get – the lights come on and go off. Very simple.
By contrast, an automated lighting control system will have more components including some sort of “brain” which will do most of the control work in the background for us. All we need to do is press a button to recall the settings. Also, simple. The reason for having the “brain” is because there can be a whole lot of things that happen in the background, both relating to lighting as well as integrating with other systems, so the automated lighting control system becomes essential to simplify the operation for us.
There are no hard and fast rules about when to use one lighting control solution verses another, however from our experience you might want to ask yourself the following questions as a guide:
There is a lot to think about, and one solution rarely fits all, so we talk with our clients through their thought process to better understand what is truly needed.
We are often asked for “simple” lighting control, because in truth life is complicated enough sometimes. However, if certain functionality is needed then an automated system may end up being the simple solution because it is the right solution. In our experience, “simple” is sometimes a reaction to a negative experience with an automated control installation in a previous home or workplace. And the root of the negative experience can be varied, for example: over-specifying a system that ends up being too complicated and ill-suited for its purpose; poor setting up during the commissioning period; poor handover – not taking sufficient time to explain and teach the client how to use the system.
The projects we are invited to work on at Light House Designs are a mix of both manual and automated control solutions, and they may not split as obviously as you might expect.
For example, we have some very large private country houses, with multiple floors and rooms including sizeable external spaces which suggest the use of an automated lighting control system. However, some of those are entirely manually controlled. A considered selection of non-dim and dimmed switches are located in particular places to control rooms, corridors, staircases and the exterior lighting.
By contrast, we also have a much smaller, dual-level city project comprising an open-plan living/dining/kitchen, master bedroom with dressing room and bathroom. Such a contained space is unlikely to have a large circuit count and therefore lends itself to a manual system. However, the client asked for an automated control system because of its added benefits.
So, whether you are a control freak or not, hopefully you will not freak-out by lighting control anymore.
Once upon a time, there was a boy; he was young and quite a lot shorter than most kids, but he was clever, kind and had lots of friends.
One day a parade came to town and all the people ran to the main road to watch. The boy ran there too, but when he got to the road, he realised he was stuck behind all the taller people and could not see a thing.
So, the boy called his friends and asked them for help; one brought a large basket, another a long rope and the third took them all to his house which had a walled garden with a tall tree right by the main road.
Together they tied one side of the rope to the basket, and the other side they flung across one of the tree’s strong branches. The little boy climbed into the basket, his friends pulled the rope together, and the basket went up the tree. The boy could watch the parade over the fence whilst sitting comfortably in the basket. Later, the friends took turns in the basket, so they all enjoyed watching the parade.
* * *
There are many forms of collaboration all around us; between countries, between companies and of course between individuals. We also know that there are wonderful examples of collaboration in nature too, between animals and even plants.
A construction project is a great example of collaboration; the client wants to build something, but they do not know how, so they contact an architect. The architect designs the shell of the building and in doing so contacts various specialists to collaborate on different aspects of the design, for example; structural engineers, mechanical and electrical engineers etc. The client also wants to design the interiors, so they contact an interior designer. The interior designer considers each space in terms of the walls, the floors and the ceilings as well as the furniture. As part of their design, they contact a lighting designer to design the lighting scheme. The lighting designer will consider the building’s exterior shell and interiors, the furniture, the mood etc and will contact various lighting manufacturers to understand more about their light fittings and what would best suit the project.
All these professionals, and more, are referred to as the design team, and once they have agreed on the design for the building, they contact the construction team.
The main contractor, even if a large and capable company, will contact various sub-contractors to offer specialist building knowledge in various trades that may be required to make the design a reality.
A building site is another excellent example of collaboration: lots of people from different places gathering and bringing their different skills in order to realise the design put together by the designers, who in turn crystallised the vision and dreams of the client. One could not work without the other and even if they could, the result would not be half as good as it is through the contact and collaboration of all these people.
At Light House Designs, we place great value on collaboration; internally we enjoy sharing ideas, suggestions, thoughts and experiences. Externally we value our collaboration with our many partners – designers, architects, engineers, installers, manufacturers and of course our clients. You can see some of them on Our Collaborators’ page on the website. We learn and grow from all these interactions to become better designers and better collaborators.
Congratulations, you are starting to work on a construction project. This could be anything – a house, an office building, a shop or a restaurant, and in any case, it is going to be amazing!
Who are you?
You might be a professional, a business owner or a homeowner; you might have a personal investment in the project, or you may be appointed to it by someone else. Regardless, there is going to be a lot that needs to be done in order to make your project a reality. You will need help.
You will need to put together a team to help you realise your project.
For example, you are likely to need a contractor to build your project. They will need to know a vast amount of information about what to build, where to put it, what to make it out of etc so you are going to need a professional team to advise (design) that for you. That is usually an architect or an interior designer depending on the project. In addition, there may be a need for additional input from other professionals regarding planning permission, structural, electrical and mechanical engineering and (if you are lucky) landscape design, audio-visual etc.
You might be thinking – “that sounds like a lot of people to pay, and it all adds up!”. You are right, but in order to do things properly, and only once without having to pay more money for fixing problems, it is worth it. Besides, you may not need all these people all the time.
What about a lighting designer?
“Thanks, I’m already paying all these people, I don’t need another designer. I’ll get one of the people I’m already paying to do this too.”
Sounds reasonable, certainly sounds cheaper, but is it right?? A lighting designer is a specialist profession; it requires the perfect combination of creativity, highly skilled technical knowledge, project management and people skills. There are many factors to consider about how to light a space both qualitative and quantitative, spatial, visual and psychological. There are countless light fittings to consider, each with numerous related components to specify to make it all work.
Therefore, as you are unlikely to get a decorator to design your furniture or a doctor to check your car, why ask an electrical contractor or an architect to design your lighting scheme!?
Good lighting design has many benefits, and a professional, independent lighting designer is the best choice to help you realise them all. It starts with enhancing the space and everything inside it after dark (why buy expensive floors, paints and furniture if they are not lit properly?), but there is so much more to it.
Recent research has shown that light has a profound effect on our bodies. Getting it right has never been so important for our physical and emotional sense of well-being. A professional lighting designer will be up to date on the latest technologies to advise you.
Cost saving: lower your energy bills
It is much more than simply “energy saving bulbs in your cupboard”. A holistic approach that considers fittings, controls and how you use your space can have a real impact on your bill. This is especially true if you have an old property. A professional lighting designer will assess your space, learn your needs and provide expert advice based on a multitude of factors to offer the most suitable solutions.
Your space can be so much more with the right light! Focused and productive, relaxed and cosy, inspirational and meditative, fun and crazy?! All of this and more. It can be achieved with lighting, and we have plenty of ideas for you to choose from.
Working from home
Whether a spare room turned home office or a state-of-the-art back garden GCHQ, the right lighting is essential to get you productive and at the top of your game.
Years of knowledge and experience are put in service of your project. We call upon many different lighting suppliers across the world to find the most suitable products on a budget that is right for you.
Our initial quote is free-of-charge, so you have an idea of how much our fees are likely to be. On a project, we charge hourly and only for time spent, plus we have different rates for different levels of designer, not a blanket charge. Most importantly we offer a flexible and tailor-made approach to suit your needs.
So why do you need a lighting designer? Because it is the right thing to do for yourself, your project and your investment.
Bulbs, not the kind you plant in the garden but light bulbs or lamps.
With recent climate change legislations announcements hitting the news, the ban on sale of halogen lights is to be enforced by 2023 within the UK, it is now time to understand their alternatives.
The professional lighting industry currently drives LED technology, pushing for better performing lights in terms of energy efficiency and physical lighting attributes. This however does not always immediately transcend down into the consumer market and LED lamps for retro fitting within our homes.
Within the consumer market there are plethora of lighting lamp manufacturers, brands, re-sellers and distributors each with their own specification of LED lamps, and each with pros and cons. The unregulated or standardised market for LED lamps creates a huge variety of lamps in all shapes, sizes, costs and importantly specification, this can often become a minefield in selecting the right lamp for the right job and it is down to the detail.
Here are some key points to look out for on LED lamps:
Spring is abundantly upon us. The hedgerows, a mass of little green buds full of hope. (more…)
A video of a selection of work we are extremely proud of. (more…)