How to nail the art of lighting

There’s a very good reason you walk into a posh restaurant, ritzy hotel foyer or beautiful resort bedroom and immediately feel special.

Sure, it’s the overall luxury and design, but you can be sure there’s a very well thought-out lighting plan that is integral to the inviting mood.

There will probably be a bit of wow factor (think chandeliers in the hotel lobby); task lighting (so you can see what you’re doing as you check in); and then the general lighting that allows you to get about without tripping over furniture or falling down stairs.

General lighting in the form of ceiling downlights; a feature light over the stairs; and task lighting over the kitchen bench perform the three important functions.

When it comes to your own home or renovation project, this is exactly the mix of lighting you should be thinking about – especially if you have the luxury of planning from scratch. Otherwise, think about what you can update or supplement in your current lighting set‑up.

The three cornerstones of a lighting plan

There are three categories of lighting you’ll need to consider.

1. General lighting

This is the most common type of lighting: the one installed during a renovation rather than added afterwards as part of furnishing or styling a home. It provides the overall lighting and covers a broad range of lighting, including ceiling lights, wall lights, track lighting and down lights. It’s more often than not a combination of a few of these.

Table lamps on the bedside tables balance out the overhead lighting.
2. Task lighting

This is the brighter lighting designed for specific tasks such as preparing food on a kitchen benchtop or reading or eating at a table, etc. Task lighting could be under-cabinet lights in the kitchen, track lighting, pendant lights over a dining table or breakfast bar, or lamps used for a specific function.

Pendant lighting is a good choice over a kitchen bench.
3. Accent lighting

Accent lighting provides the opportunity to create mood and drama. Resorts, in particular, make fantastic use of accent lighting: highlighting artworks, uplighting trees, and wall scones in bathrooms that create washes of light.

Nothing creates mood and drama like an eye-catching feature light or two. It can make a bedroom feel seductive or turn heads in a living room. And you don’t have to fork out a fortune for spectacular feature lights these days. Shops like Bunnings, Freedom and IKEA have plenty of great ones to choose from for under $50.

Feature lighting can add real wow factor to a bedroom.
Favourite lighting tricks
  • In a master bedroom, low-hanging pendant lights either side of the bedhead are perfect, as it’s both a focal point and an alternative to side table lights, which take up precious space. If the room is big enough, a beautiful feature light can really add wow factor.
  • Over an island bench or breakfast bar in the kitchen, two or three pendant lights provide a focal point as well as task lighting.
  • A fancy feature light over a dining table can really help to define a space, particularly in open plan.
  • Table and floorstanding lamps are great for adding atmosphere, especially in living areas, which serve a multitude of purposes, from morning right through to bed. And don’t forget the magic of dimmers!
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