The lighting low down

Welcome to a fun and fabulous month of blog posts. We’re launching January with my very own AA design-ometer. All month we’ll be going through makeover tips to make uninspiring rooms an incredible space to hang out in! Follow all the design-ometer makeover posts here.


Morning, I’ve just come off a pretty crazy working weekend. Having shot all our products on Thursday and Friday I spent the weekend designing the brochure, laying out all the shots and generally making the whole collection look fabulous. I wish I could show you but there are still tweaks to make and all the pics are now in post production I’ve just been playing around with the low-res. By next week it should all be nailed, I hope.

Today I wanted to concentrate on lighting. We are on week two of my AA design-ometer blog posts. Going through make over tips that turn uninspiring rooms into fabulous ones and lighting plays the hugest part.

I am absolutely obsessed with lighting, it’s my own personal design crusade. I didn’t realise the importance of lighting until I converted to the dark side but now I’m fanatical about it! It has magical powers, highlighting, adding depth and intrigue, drawing the eye, making a space look bigger, cosier you name it.If you’re wondering why your room doesn’t feel right, I would say the number one all time mistake which I see all the time is recessed down lights. Too harsh and soulless by far, which is why they rank a big fat zero on the design-ometer. I have them in my place so the issue isn’t with recessed per se, just that you can’t have them as the only light source.

Chandeliers and pendants should never be the only light source in a room either, because it’s way too unflattering. Think of your overheads purely as co-conspirators – you’ll need oodles of lamps and sidelights to help them out. The absolute golden rule is to have at least 8 light sources per room. Sounds a lot I know! Look around your room, count up the lights and lamps and award yourself half a point for each one. So hopefully you’re now convinced to load up on tons of lighting, here are my top tips for pulling off the look:

Ambient: These are your overhead lights – recessed, pendant or chandeliers. They should never be the only lights in the room though. You need to put them on dimmers, so you can change the vibe of a room by lowering the light levels. No one wants their house all lit up like an airport lounge!

Task lighting: These are the practical lights you need in the room, so desk lamps, reading lights, under cabinet lighting for preparing food in the kitchen, mirror lights in the bathroom, motion sensor lights in cupboards and drawers etc. Task lights are practical and functional, but they also make a room feel more beautiful and harmonious because you get little pools of light dotted around the room.

Accent lighting: These are the lamps that you can load up on everywhere in the room, and my favourite design trick. I’ve got lamps everywhere on side tables, consoles, on central islands, on the floor, on benches on a pouf even. Everywhere and it’s beautiful. These little glowing pockets of light create atmospheric, cosy, intimate spaces  – you enter a beautifully lit room and you immediately get that feeling of squishy contentment.You can also use them to highlight architectural features. Think a soft glow above in alcoves or along stairtreads – I’ve also seen hidden lights tucked behind headboards and above kitchen cabinets for that extra layer of glow. Or the lighting can be a feature in it’s own right, like a fun floor standing lamp or a cool neon wall sign.

Candlelight: Don’t forget candles! They’re one of the easiest and most effective ways of adding an intriguing glow to a room is with candles. Make sure you have several clusters at different heights to create a warm atmosphere with oodles of depth. I’d stick fairylights and lit fireplaces in here too, as they create the same effect.

So there you go! Get more lights in now, there’s really no excuse. With so many light sources in a room it’s super important to have bulbs that are relatively low in wattage as they create a far more beautiful atmosphere. And I know I’m telling you to go overboard with the lighting but please please don’t eradicate all shadows completely. It’s the contrast between the light and shadow that makes all the magic happen. It will make the biggest difference to your space. A good lighting scheme is so cosy and beautiful, particularly at this time of year when we’re still waiting for the sun to come back!

I’m off for a swim, its cold, dark and windy out there and on looking at the image above of my bed where the two M’s are currently snoring I kind of want to climb back in not set off in my pj’s to the outdoor pool. Bonkers do you think? Right now it seems so but there is something about swimming under the stars in the dark that is a bit intoxicating!