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Lighting your home

How much light you would like in a room is entirely up to you and your personal preference so there is no standard rule to follow. However, if you need a starting point then our guide below will give you some tips, things to consider and our general rules of thumb.

How much light does my room need?

Brighter light is needed for tasking purposes whereas subdued light creates a sense of warmth and mood. Rooms that are multi functioning such as a kitchen, bathroom or utility room will require more light than a bedroom or living room.

Centrally placed ceiling or pendant lights will throw their light all round a room equally so are better for general tasking purposes, whereas a wall or ceiling mounted spot light can be angled towards you to give bright, focussed light where needed, or away from you onto a wall or ceiling to add to the general ambience of the room.

As a rough guide, around 400 lumens would be suitable for a bed-sized table lamp, whereas you might want between 1,500 and 3,000 lumens in total (from more than one bulb) for a good-sized living room.

You can work out the level of light you need by calculating your room size in square metres and multiplying it by 19 for LED or CFL bulbs and by 15 for halogen bulbs. For example, if your room measures 4m x 5m it has an area of 20 square metres. If you are using LED bulbs, multiply this by 19 (20x19) giving a total of 380 watts, or a light level of 3800 lumens. The lumen level of each bulb will vary depending on the type of bulb and manufacturer so check the specific lumen level of each bulb to ensure you reach your overall target.

This is only a rough guide as you may need to have slightly more light in a kitchen and slightly less if it is a bedroom.
General lighting lifestyle
Kitchen lighting heading
Kitchen lighting scheme

What do I need to consider with kitchen lighting?

A great kitchen lighting scheme has the power to transform an ordinary kitchen into a truly spectacular one. Now that we’re living in increasingly open plan spaces with kitchens at the heart of your home, they have to perform on a multifunctional level with lighting that needs to cater for tasking, dining, relaxing, office or homework and entertaining.

The  rules that apply to kitchen lighting can be applied to every room in your home in that cleverly positioned lights can make a small room appear larger, disguise awkward architecture or compensate for poor natural light.

Look at your room and think about the activities that happen in each area. Some spaces, like food preparation zones,  the sink and above the hob in a kitchen will require task lighting, as will a desk, study area or bathroom mirror. Other areas such as your dining space, living room and bedrooms call for mood and accent lighting.

Task Lighting

Task lighting refers to the places where you work the most so need the brightest lights, such as worktops, over the cooker and sink. There are lots of varieties to choose from, from compact fluorescent strips or LED under-cupboard downlighters that are slim enough to be recessed into the bottom of overhead units, to flexible LED strip lighting mounted on the underside of cupboards. 

Using dimmable bulbs with a dimmer switch is a fantastic way to achieve versatile lighting as you can choose to have bright light were needed and create soft, ambient light by decreasing power to the light source.

As well as creating a focal point in your room, ceiling lights are omnidirectional – casting their light equally everywhere – which is a must for tasking purposes. Alternatively, spotlights fitted directly above the hob, sink and chopping board will ensure bright, focused lighting.

Task lighting
Mood lighting

Mood Lighting

If you have a kitchen diner or family room adjoined to your kitchen you will need to create a softer ambience to make everyone feel relaxed. Start by looking at how much natural light comes into the room and where it falls and where you need additional lighting.

It’s worth considering dimmable wall lights or spots lights that can be moved alongside more decorative systems, as these will give a subtle background illumination. For high ceilings, uplighters on top of the kitchen cabinets or spot lights hung along beams will enhance the general light.

For island units or kitchen tables, consider a rise-and-fall fixture above the table that can be pulled down for a cosy candlelit supper or raised for everyday meals and other activities. If possible, make sure your lights are controlled separately so you can create different moods at the flick of a switch.

Feature Lighting

The final layer of lighting that you will need to consider is how to create character and mood in your room. This is done using accent or feature lighting that guides the eye and creates points of interest around the room as well as adding to the overall light.

Accent lighting could be subtle strip LED lighting on shelving, along the plinth of your kitchen island, in cupboards or in niches that highlights your room’s natural features It can also refer to the fitting itself, which makes a statement whether on or off.

A series of beautiful pendant lights or a fabulous single statement piece above a dining table will help differentiate the dining space from the kitchen’s work zones. Try hanging pendants low over the table for a feeling of intimacy or position them high over kitchen islands. This not only provides a great source of light, it also adds interest, breaking up the austere lines of cabinets.
Feature lighting
Living and dining rooms heading
Living room lights
First off, consider the direction your windows face to help to decide on the type of lighting you need in your living room. North facing rooms tend to be cooler and darker than south facing ones that are typically warmer. East and west facing rooms vary throughout the day.

If you get a lot of sunlight during the day you may only need ambient low lighting to relax with at night. In turn, a shady room may require a few lighting options to maintain a lovely light throughout the day.

Accent lighting created by wall lights, table and floor lamps, and dimmer lights, are great tools for creating ambience whereas desk or reading lamps are more practical when a brighter, more focused light is needed.

What size picture light should I choose?

Lighting pictures is not an exact science, but a basic rule of thumb is to position pictures on the wall with the centre at eye level - about 1.5m (5ft) from floor level and to position the picture light centrally above the picture. Most picture lights have adjustable heads that can be swivelled to direct the light correctly onto the picture below.
Landscape pictures - choose a picture light that is 1/2 to 1/3 the size of the picture not including the frame.
Portrait pictures - select a picture light that is as close to 1/2 the width of the picture as is possible, not including the frame.
Picture light

what size ceiling light do I need?

A ceiling light is one of the focal points in a room so it is important to get the size right or it will look out of proportion and detract from the look you want to achieve.

If there is a smaller light you like, you could consider hanging two or three of them in a row or a cluster to give the impression of size. This looks particularly good if hung above a dining table, worktop, console table or along a narrow hall or landing.

Living room ceiling lights

How low should I hang my pendant lights?

If you are hanging your pendants from a central point in your room, you need to consider the height of your ceiling as a first step. Many old houses have low ceilings and may require flush or semi-flush lights so you are not constantly ducking or hitting your head.

Always check the maximum height of the light that you can accommodate before choosing your lights and check our product information which gives the measurements of all our lights.

We recommend lights in sitting rooms, bedrooms and hallways should be hung at least 2m (7ft) above floor level to give adequate clearance, but it is your room so you can hang them at whatever height you feel comfortable with.

All our pendant lights come with either 50cm, or 1m of cable and chain that can be shortened. Another point to consider is that a light will look larger the lower it hangs and smaller if your hang it higher.
Ickworth & Lovell pendants

How low should pendants hang over a dining table or kitchen island?

We would recommend that a ceiling light over your dining table should be between 1/2 to 2/3 of the width of the table. Go bigger rather than smaller unless you are hanging two or three in a row.
The basic rule here is that the bottom of your ceiling light should be between 75 and 85cm from the top of your table. If your ceiling is taller than 2.5m (8ft) then add another 7cm (3”) for every additional 30cm (1ft).
Sussex Pendant above dining table
Hallway and landings heading
The same basic rules about hanging pendants at least 7ft off the floor applies to entrance halls and foyers, but if you have a double height ceiling over two floors, the light fitting should ideally not hang below the second floor. If you are hanging your light higher to compensate for the two story setting, you may wish to consider one of our multi pendant lights to ensure it does not look too small for the setting.

Vaulted ceiling lights

What if I have a vaulted ceiling?

Fitting hanging pendant lights from a sloped ceiling is generally not an issue as the pendants will hang straight regardless of the angle of the ceiling rose or track.

If you have a high ceiling, you may need to extend the length of the cables to account for this, and in some cases - if your sloped ceiling is particularly steep, or you are fitting your lights in a small space, or if you want them to hang at the apex of your ceiling (where the slopes meet at the top) - you may need to make adjustments to the ceiling fitting to account for the slope.

However, if you have enough space for your pendants to hang at least 3ft away from a wall, to minimise any harsh shadows, they should be fine.

Kindly note, our Butler Rise and Fall Pendant is not suitable for hanging on a sloped ceiling as it may affect the mechanism.

It is important to consider how you are going to change the bulbs if you have a pendant hanging from a high vaulted ceiling as it will become very expensive if you need to hire a scaffold tower every time a bulb requires changing.

Firstly, we’d recommend you invest in LED bulbs as they have a very long life – usually around 25,000 hours – so will not need changing often. A light that can be accessed by a ladder will make changing the bulbs a lot easier, as would be one that could be reached by the upper floors if you have a galleried landing.

If your light will be totally out of reach, another option is to consider installing a specialist winch or hoist. There are a number winches on the market which will enable you to lower your light fittings to the desired level for maintenance to be carried out in total safety. Most are fairly compact and can be easily fitted between joists.

How high should I hang a wall light?

As a very general rule, position your wall lights about 152cms or 60" above floor level.

If you are putting wall lights in a long hallway or corridor a general rule of thumb is to position them about 250 to 300cms or between 8' to 10' apart. The top of the wall light should be at eye level so that you are not looking directly into the bulb.

Shell wall lights