Say it with light by interior designer Celia Sawyer

As one of my favourite interior designers, I was delighted when Celia Sawyer offered to write a guest post for my wonderful readers. The ‘Four Rooms’ dealer and celebrity designer tells us why lighting should be the first item on your to-do list when curating a new home, and I couldn’t agree more. Here’s her blog post and photos of her recent décor projects – enjoy! Lighting is one of the most important yet often most overlooked elements in good interior design. Lighting is key as it is the one single ingredient that affects all others; there is little point creating a beautiful home if it is insufficiently lit and your well-thought-out furniture and accessories not represented in the best way. Lighting can be quite technical but it is a wonderful medium to work with.

Never skimp on lighting as it is essential to creating ambience and depth in a room. Great lighting can be used in many ways and should be layered to suit your needs. For example if you have features in your room you wish to stand out and display, or areas you wish to highlight, position recessed ceiling spotlights to enhance these.

Work round the room the way you would walk through; observe how the lighting changes. Are your ceiling lights creating enough impact? How are they hanging? Do you require table lamps? These are all questions you need to ask yourself. An amazing chandelier will give your room the “wow” factor and could be the star feature of your room. Art-deco inspired lighting is a having its renaissance. Think geometric shapes, bevelled glass, gold chintz and reflective surfaces. Typical lighting fixtures include an illuminated ribbon running down the middle or the edge of a recess, which creates a streamlined glow, with a circular light placed in the centre of this area acting as a focal point. 

Table and floor lamps will add that extra warmth and dimension to your room, but also with so many beautiful lamps available now, can become a sculpture in themselves. If you are looking for chandeliers or made-to-order lamps, you will need to give yourself at least eight weeks lead time. Many companies have a range of stock lighting however if you want something really unique, you will most probably be ordering from overseas or a dedicated fabricator in UK who will need longer lead times.

Practical lighting is also important, if you need an area to read or work, then you need to plan this accordingly and in the first wave of your lighting design.  I always use dimmer 5 amp systems these days so that throughout the day as the light changes outside, I can adjust the room lighting to suit the required mood.  You can also use different types of brightness, depending on the amount of light that you want to let into a room. Softer light provides a calmer atmosphere, where brighter lights are ideal for schemes that are busy, like an entertainment area. Think of lighting a little like adding a jacket (your wall lights) to your everyday dress (your practical lighting), and then adding jewellery and great shoes, (structural and feature lighting such as positioned spots and table lamps) and if you have the courage, an amazing hat (your star piece chandelier in the centre of your room).

Various layers of light can be incorporated into a bedroom suite, from spotlights in the ceiling providing a warm glow to LED’s embedded into the shelves by the reading corner. Lights highlight each item on shelves drawing attention and adding an area of interest. The ceiling spotlights bounce light off the reflective surfaces such as the bronze wardrobe panels, bevelled glass and crystal. Finally the bedside lamps offer practical lighting for reading or similar in bed.

Kitchen lighting is always an interesting topic of conversation. A trio of hanging lights above breakfast bars or kitchen tables are a thing of the past and can quickly look dated. There are a lot of clinical looking hanging lights on the market; avoid these. If you do prioritise lighting from the offset make sure downlights and fantastic spotlights are incorporated into your plans early – this is all you really need in the kitchen.

Directional lighting plays a significant role in the home. This is the science behind your selected lighting; either to provide illumination for the entirety of the room or to highlight very specific elements, even to distract from a certain area in some cases. Track lighting is the perfect example of positional lighting, where you can use beautiful wall lights with adjustable necks pointed at specific elements. Often people use track lighting to highlight stunning artwork or collectables.

Another reason to insist on getting lighting right from the offset is because it affects colours and fabrics. You would be surprised how natural light versus man-made can throw a whole different meaning to your selected tones.

It is clear lighting provides magic and theatre in the home whilst being extremely practical in helping create a visually larger space. Taking lighting seriously will enhance the environment and complement your décor so there’s no excuses, this should be your first priority, and I hope you agree.

Thanks for sharing this inspirational design article with us Celia! For more information you can check out her website

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in Lifestyle Promotion Studies and is trained in Personal Money Management. She loves to ‘get the look for less’ so regularly shares thrifty-living advice, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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