How to choose the right lighting for every room
There are many different types of lights for each room, from chandeliers and ceiling lights to pendant lights and standing lamps. We explain the differences between lights – and how to choose suitable lighting for your home
The lighting in your home can really make or break a room. It's important to remember that every room is different - the kitchen might benefit from brighter, whiter lighting, whereas the living room deserves a more warm, cosy glow.
Bathe your home in mood-enhancing light, with a combination of discreet task lights and carefully chosen showstoppers
Here are a few of the different types of lighting you can use, and a few recommendations for each.
Using statement antique lighting, such as an opulent chandelier, is one of interior designer Henriette Von Stockhausen’s favourite ways to add impact to a room. ‘Antique lights are the perfect decorative piece, providing light, while also being beautiful in their own right,’ she says. ‘Try to choose one with several bulbs and if you can see the bulbs, use gathered fabric shades or beautiful candle bulbs, as modern bulbs can ruin the look.’
Peyton 1 light pendant satin nickel and textured glass
Keats large pendant in Snow
Large globe pendant in brass and opal glass
Floor lamps & table lamps
Floor and table lamps are a great way to add light to a room. The provide comfortable light at eye level as well as offering a decorative element to a room.
Fin Queen table light
Melon Vase table lamp
Hanover cordless lamp in bronze
Swing articulated standing lamp
If you want a softer glow in a room, you might want to opt for wall lights rather than ceiling lights. Not only do they provide a more subtle ambience, but they also create a relaxing mood, perfect for cosy evenings.
Wall lights are also good for lighting your artwork at home if natural light isn't abundant.
Ledbury contemporary wall light with ribbed glass shade and polished brass finish
York glass wall lights in opal glass and weathered brass
Ledbury contemporary wall light with case glass shade and antique brass finish
For any fans of antique lighting, you might be interested in reading our guide to buying antique lights and lamps and what to look out for.
Boston single arm library light in hand-rubbed antique brass by Chapman & Myers
How to use lighting for atmosphere
Henriette Von Stockhausen of VSP Interiors explains how to use lighting to create relaxed environments, intimate spaces and wow factor
When thinking about lighting for your home you absolutely need three or more levels, meaning ceiling lights, wall lights, and table lamps or floor lights, and it’s vital that everything is on a dimmer so you can adjust the lighting for different moods.
The function of ceiling lights is for general light during the daytime. If you choose to install spotlights, which I am not keen on in historic interiors, make sure you don’t have huge grids like Heathrow Airport. Only install as many as necessary, and only in areas that need task lighting, such as kitchens.
Wall lights are for atmospheric lighting. Together with picture lights they are very useful. They give a comfortable glow and, in the case of picture lights, light a subject rather than the room.
Table and floor lamps are the most essential and most flexible form of light as they’re at a level that is most comfortable to the eye, especially when sitting. Lights like these create a relaxed mood and living rooms should have as many as possible. Make sure you include them on the same circuit so they all come on when you switch on the main light, otherwise you will have to turn on each light individually.
The lampshade you choose is also important. Silk or papyrus give the most flattering and comfortable light. Red shades tend to be beautiful in the evenings.
In a bedroom, always have a pair of bedside table lamps. If you have a four-poster bed, put your wall lights or reading lights inside and make sure they can be switched on and off from either side of the bed. Vaughan makes perfect flexi reading lights. Robert Kime’s Paris light is also a favourite of ours.
Dining room lighting should be extra flexible so it can be combined with candlelight. When entertaining, the right lighting is crucial. Too much light will make guests feel uncomfortable and self-conscious, and it’s simply unflattering. Too little will hinder everyone from seeing their food!
I adore using antique chandeliers, with a crystal or alabaster dish, over the centre of a dining table, along with wall lights and picture lights that create a glow. Try Jamb for beautiful reproduction dish lights.
For reading and other tasks, good light is essential, but it needs to be flexible so that it can be switched off when the task is done. I always add wall lights to either side of the mirror in a bathroom for extra light when doing makeup etc, but I put them on a dimmer so you can create a relaxing atmosphere when having a bath, for example.
Unless for totally utilitarian areas, I’m not a fan of solely using ceiling lights, even in halls and corridors. Instead, think about using ceiling pendants like globe lanterns or lidded urn lanterns. They give the same effect without looking too modern, and they diffuse the light in a more comfortable way.
Remember too that lighting is decorative! A chandelier or large pendant can look fabulous over a kitchen island or as a statement piece over a special bathtub.
Special Christmas offer- Save over 50% when you subscribe today
Treat yourself or a loved one this Christmas with a whole year of Homes & Antiques magazine for only £31.99! That's 12 months of unique editorial that champions antiques alongside stylish and eclectic interiors. Lock in the best prices today!