Let there be light!
A good lighting scheme is the result of a mixture of light sources and may include ambient or mood lighting, task lighting for close-up work or accent lighting to highlight special features. In interior design nothing makes a space feel more uninviting than bad lighting, therefore, a few things to consider are: the sources of light, their position in a room and the temperature of the light. .
Sources of light
Light sources can vary from wall lights to ceiling lights, table lamps and pendants. In each room it is important to have multiple light sources. Pendant lights are great for creating a statement piece in a room but be careful to limit them to rooms with tall ceilings otherwise you may find your room feels like it’s closing in on you! The exception for this would be pendants placed directly over a bedside table that give the effect of a table lamp, without taking up precious space. A pendant light can also work over a dining table but remember the correct proportion is important as it may block the view beyond and become more a distraction than a statement. Task lighting via either table lamps or spotlights are key for areas where good lighting is essential and may be useful where food is prepared or where reading takes place.
Temperature of Light
The temperature of light has a great impact on the ambiance of a space and refers to the colour it emits. With so many light bulbs on the market, everything from fluorescent to compact-fluorescent (CFL’s), incandescent and halogen, as well as hundreds of colour temperatures it’s no wonder so many people are bamboozled by lighting options. While they all have their pro’s and con’s, when it comes to interior design halogen bulbs are preferred over incandescent for a longer life and higher energy efficiency.
They also produce a warmer light and are generally friendlier to skin tone than the cool and often harsh light produced by fluorescent bulbs. A new version of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL’s) trump halogen in the energy-efficiency stakes, however the new breed of Infrared coated halogens are 30% more energy efficient than their predecessors.
Now for the fun part
Now that you have all the basics in place you can have a little fun with the finishing touches. Cushions, throws, rugs, chairs, mirrors, artwork, lamps, and much more will help to bring your scheme together.
While cushions are the perfect accent for a bed, armchair or lounge, remember not to over-do them. A few scatters of different shapes, textures or patterns create a burst of colour and add another layer of depth to your lounge. Remember, if you can’t sit comfortably on your lounge or you have to pile them sky high to make room, you may want to re-consider your options.
While also adding a level of comfort, a throw is great for creating texture and colour in your space. Drape one over the side of the lounge or at the end of the bed in a contrasting colour or texture. Don’t be too contrived with the placement, the ‘thrown on the bed’ look creates variation and a feeling of effortlessness.
Rugs are great for creating texture and adding dimension to a space. When selecting a rug, after comfort, size and style are the most important factors. In a living room a rug should be large enough so that all the furniture sits at least half on it, whereas in a dining room the rug should sit so that a person can comfortably pull their chair out and still remain on the rug.
In a bedroom if the bed is against a wall use an irregular shaped rug which should fit at least half way under, and if the bed is in the middle of the room you want enough of the rug to be seen either side, but not so much that it looks like ill-fitting carpet. Resign postage stamp sized mats to the bathroom and front door only and don’t be afraid to layer rugs or use them over carpet.
Chairs are a great way to create interest in a space and with so many on the market, have some fun with them. Remember the rules of proportion and scale when making your selection and consider their appropriateness for the space. Use a combination of styles around a dining table for an eclectic look and to create a sense of fun. A vintage or industrial chair can look great in the corner of a room or try one made from Perspex for a subtle look.
Last but definitely not least, finish off your walls with carefully selected artworks. The correct piece of art will help tie the scheme together and create a focal point in the room. Art is also perfect for breaking up large walls, injecting colour or a sense of drama to a space. Remember when hanging art you don’t want to crane your neck to see it. The centre of the artwork (for large format pieces) should be around 1.5m off the ground. In a living room keep art a bit lower so that it remains a comfortable height when seated. If above a sofas or sofa beds, the art should take up approximately 2/3 of the size and start about 20cm from the backrest or headboard. Be careful not to dot your walls with small pieces, these will just get lost and look out of place. Instead, group smaller artworks collectively to create a feature. In addition to art, mirrors are a great way of creating the illusion of a larger space and can also double as a sculptural piece, just remember to assess what it is being reflected and if it’s worth duplicating. Experiment with other elements such as wallpaper, unframed prints, clocks and even tapestries for interesting alternatives.