Tips and tricks to light your home

Five useful tips for enhancing your living space with light

Start by taking a close look at your interiors: some areas may be sufficiently lit, but do they have the atmosphere and quality of light that you’re looking for? Could you activate a left-over space, perhaps turning a dark corridor into a cosy reading corner?

Also, keep in mind that many different activities may take place in a particular location. Through the course of the day, your kitchen counter may start out as a breakfast bar, but then turn into a home office, and later be used for cooking, homework or a gathering of family and friends.

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You should also consider your space’s dimensions. As a rule of thumb, rooms with low ceilings benefit from a combination of ceiling, wall and floor lights, while pendant lights can add a sense of structure to rooms with higher ceilings.

Zones

Large spaces can be broken down into smaller ones by the use of light. Creating zones with their own individual identities will help to increase the sense of generosity and variety in a room, and in your home as a whole. Islands of light in the centre of a space will attract the eye, making it seem smaller. By placing light fittings around the perimeter, you can make the room feel more spacious.

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Vary Heights

To animate the entire spatial volume of your room, light fittings should be positioned at different heights. Take into account the heights of elements such as windowsills, furniture or built-in joinery to avoid unwanted overlaps and clashes when finalising the locations of your fittings. You should also take vistas across and in between rooms into account.

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Play With Arrangements

It is worth trying out various arrangements when choosing the position of your light fittings. To illuminate a larger space or surface, several fittings may be lined up or grouped together. Alternatively, a cluster of lights can act as a sculptural presence, giving both structure and identity to a room.

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Play with shadows

A dramatic shadow can add a striking note to a room. And dappled light through a window can create a beautiful, shimmering pattern. But when too few fittings are used or when light is coming from only one direction, the room can seem small and lifeless. Instead, try to generate a lively play of light and shadow by building up your light from various sides and heights.

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Control reflections

If handled with care, reflective materials can add a nice touch to a room. But, more often, reflections from surfaces such as polished table tops or marble kitchen counters create an irritating glare that becomes tiring over time. In these circumstances, use a soft, diffused light source or perhaps a mirror-headed light bulb. In addition, matt paint on surrounding walls will reflect light in a gentler and more even way than gloss paint.

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The halo effect

Some lights – for instance Artek’s A110 ‘Hand Grenade’ or A330S ‘Golden Bell’ – have perforated rings or rims at the base of their shade. Designed to diffuse light and prevent glare, these create a beautiful circle of light around the fitting, known as the ‘halo effect’. To experience this elegant play of light and shadow, make sure to use clear glass bulbs – frosted or pearlescent ones will produce an attractive diffused glow, but will not cast shadows.

Choose the right light for the job

Most light fittings have been designed to suit a specific purpose: general luminaires spread ambient light across the entire room, while accent luminaires focus light on a specific object or area that you wish to highlight. Task luminaires are optimised to support an activity such as reading or working.

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Understand the interplay of light

It is important to choose your fittings according to the light they emit, and not just on the way they look. The way that a luminaire casts light into space and onto surfaces can often have a much greater effect on your interior than its appearance alone.

Many of Artek’s luminaires are specifically designed to create an interplay between direct, indirect and diffused light. When light is emitted sideways, it will usually be filtered through finely perforated steel rings or a translucent material, preventing glare. In addition, a quantity of indirect light is emitted through the top of many Artek fittings, producing a soft glow that enhances the ambience of the room.

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Experiment with sources

Test different light sources to find the ideal intensity and temperature for your particular setting or task. The range of different light bulbs on the market can seem overwhelming, but always take into account the materials that define your home when selecting your bulbs. If your home is dominated by warm colours and natural materials, bulbs that emit a soft, warm light will be your best choice. If you are surrounded by cool colours and materials, opt for slightly brighter, cooler bulbs. For most applications, we recommend matt LED bulbs with a uniform light that is soft and glare-free.

Avoid mixing temperatures

It can be beneficial to vary the intensity and character of the light within a defined space. However, you should keep a certain consistency in the temperature of the light – sticking to bulbs with similar temperatures will help create a harmonious ambience. In most circumstances, the direct juxtaposition of warm, neutral and cool lights in one room will create a disagreeable atmosphere.

Control your lights

The ability to dim luminaires gives you more control over a room’s ambience, whether you are performing a particular task or creating a specific mood. When you refurbish your home, consider installing dimmer switches. Also, consider installing sockets that can be controlled by wall switches in key areas – if you have several accent light fittings plugged into your sockets, this will make those lights easier to operate.

How to use Artek lighting to best effect

What to consider when installing lights in different spaces throughout your home

The dining table

Single luminaire

The key to selecting the right light fitting to hang above a dining table is to consider how you will be using the table. If it is mainly intended just for dining, choose a luminaire that emits a soft, atmospheric light onto its surface. Will the dining table also be used for working? Then make sure that the light fitting emits a generous amount of relatively bright light across the table top.

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  • If your dining table is relatively small, you can hang a single luminaire above its centre.
  • As a rule of thumb, your luminaire should be at least 25–30 cm smaller in diameter than the width of the dining table.
  • Take your table’s material into account, choosing a luminaire and bulb that prevent glare if necessary.

Multiple luminaires

Depending on the size and shape of the table, you may want to use one or more pendant lights. A row of luminaires can be a good choice above a big table, use three or more set at the same height.

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  • The number and spacing of the lamps depend on the size of the table. When installing a row of luminaires, keep a distance of about one and a half times the width of the lamp shade between the individual lights.
  • The installation height of pendant light fittings depends on the position of the bulb within the luminaire. As a rule of thumb, the base of the shade should be about 50 cm above the table top.

The kitchen table

Hanging the right luminaire above your kitchen table will allow you to use your kitchen in a more versatile way. When light is distributed evenly, the kitchen table can double up as an informal home office, or be a great place for your children’s homework.

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  • Hang the luminaire about 50–55 cm above the table top. You should raise this height a little if you are very tall – if so, you might wish to minimise glare by choosing a mirrored bulb or a luminaire that emits filtered light.
  • Remember to take the width of your table into account – you will want to avoid hitting your head on the lamp shade.

The kitchen counter

Kitchens often suffer from an uncomfortable atmosphere due to technical light fittings such as built-in cupboard lighting. There are a variety of alternatives to create a more pleasant environment.

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  • Instead of installing harsh neon strip lights underneath high-level kitchen cabinets, you can achieve a good distribution of light on kitchen counters by installing wall luminaires.
  • Hanging heights should usually be around 90 cm above your work surface. If you are tall, raise your lights an additional 10–20 cm above your counter to avoid blocking your view. Use a partially mirrored bulb to prevent glare for other family members.

The living room

If you have a favourite reading spot in your living room, you can enhance it by placing a beautiful light fitting nearby, maybe picking up on the materiality of its surfaces and textiles. This will add another layer to the lighting of the room, and also increase the cosiness of your space.

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  • A floor light can be the simplest choice if you’re creating a cosy reading corner, and can be easily controlled from your armchair.
  • Choose a bulb that is bright enough to support your eyes, but soft enough to prevent glare. 400–500 lm can work well, but you should adjust this to your particular environment.

The bedroom

Hanging pendant lights that match your decorative scheme on either side of your bed is a simple, effective way to create a calming and comfortable atmosphere.

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  • Switching on these lights when you wake up will allow your eyes to adjust before you turn on the main light or open the curtains. Equally, they can help you relax when going to bed. Make sure you choose a bulb that is bright enough for reading.
  • Centre the pendant on your bedside table, hanging it around 40–50 cm above the surface of the mattress.

The home office

An increasing number of people is discovering that working at home may not always need to take place in a home office. A sofa, armchair or dining table can prove equally suitable, depending on the task at hand. However, appropriate illumination is needed if you decide to work in these spots.

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  • Choose luminaires and light bulbs that direct sufficient light onto your chosen area, allowing you to concentrate on your work.
  • Make sure that the light is not coming from a direction that results in a shadow being cast across your work.

The hallway

Depending on the size of your entrance area, you may want to embellish it by installing a pendant or ceiling luminaire, creating a specific identity for a space that might otherwise be overlooked.

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  • If the ceiling height is lower than 260 cm, install a ceiling- or wall-mounted luminaire to maintain sufficient head height. Repeating the same luminaire in an adjacent room will help unify the two spaces.

The accents

Sideboards

Sideboards or credenzas are often positioned alongside seating or dining areas, allowing for the display of artwork, decorative objects or plants.

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  • A pendant or wall light can be positioned to accentuate the entire sideboard or just an individual artwork on its surface.
  • Keep the fixture at an appropriate distance from adjacent surfaces, and in particular from walls, to avoid harsh ‘scallops’ of light being cast across them.

Seating

The seating area in your living room is likely to be a relaxing and cosy. A pendant luminaire centred on a coffee table can help to create the appropriate atmosphere.

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  • Hang the light fitting at a height that is low enough to avoid glare, but high enough to ensure the view to important objects, such as a television, fireplace or artwork, is not blocked.
  • If centering the pendant light above the area would block your view, you can hang it in an alternative location, for example above a low table to the side of the sofa.

Walls

Depending on the size of your living room, install a number of matching wall lights, positioning them in empty areas. These can help enhance the ambience of the room, giving it a comfortable, warm feel.

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  • When positioning your wall lights, place them on plain surfaces that have few or no technical installations, so they reflect light in an even way and don’t create disturbing shadows.
  • Avoid getting too close to other objects, such as televisions, wardrobes or doorframes.
  • In rooms with standard ceiling heights of around 260 cm, position your wall lights about 180 cm above the floor. If you have very high ceilings, increase the hanging height proportionally, but no higher than the top of your door frame.