Interior Design Lighting Plan

Lighting your home is not something you should think about after the renovation process has started - it should be before you begin. Any mistake you make in deciding how many built-in lights go into your space, and where, could lead to a costly and unnecessarily extended renovation. This is because rewiring means having to hack walls or false ceilings, delaying your original schedule. But how do you know when you have too little - or too many - lighting fixtures? And where do you place them? We have the lighting interior design experts.

Identify your activities

If you know that your dining table is also going to be used for homework for tuition, one central pendant light may not be sufficient. Your activities determine the type of lighting you need: ambient, task or accent, ambient (also known as general) lighting is the room's main illumination - usually in the form of daylight and florescent or CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs in ceiling-mounted fixtures. Task lighting is brighter, focused illumination for activities like homework, reading or cooking. Accent lighting is decorative and is meant to highlight certain features in a room, like artwork.

The quantity and quality of lighting required have a direct correlation to the function of the room. For instance, a lounge requires mainly ambient light and does not require the higher-intensity task lights a study or kitchen needs.

Design Caters to Users

Older person’s perception of the brightness of a room is much dimmer than that of a younger person. More lighting is needed generally to do the same work with increasing age people. Older people require a higher level of brightness of approximately 1,000 lux, if you have a light meter to measure with. This is twice the lux level that people in their 30s or 40s need for reading. Don’t sweat it if you don’t have a light meter, as the lux level is not something regular homeowners should be concerned with.

For multi-generational homes, lights that come with dimmer switches are recommended so as different users can select their desired light level.

Consider the Room’s Design

Floor area, ceiling height and surface (floor and wall) finishes all contribute to how much light you need. These factors can swallow up or reflect what light you have - for example, if a 23w CFL bulb shines at 1,500 - 1,600 lumens (light perceived by the average eyes), it will be too bright for a 43 square feet room (the size of a household shelter) but just right for a 100 square feet room (the size of a HDB bedroom).

A higher ceiling will mean that your light bulb may be further from the object is meant to illuminate; a lower ceiling may cause direct glare from the bulb. Higher ceiling allows a higher wattage light to be spaced further apart.

If you have dark brown walls, the colour will “absorb” the light, whereas white walls will reflect it and make the room seem brighter, Cement creed, stone and raw brick walls will also absorb light, while glazed homogeneous tiles will reflect it.

Specify the mood of the room

The lighting points provided in a HDB flat or a private apartment are usually adequate for ambient lighting purposes, so designers usually focuses on the mood the owner wants the room to portray.

This entails looking at the colour temperature of your lights. Designers will choose cool white with a colour temperature of about 4,000 kelvin (the unit of measurement for colour temperature) for a living room, and a warmer hue of 3000 kelvin, conducive for the bedroom for resting.

Suit the Visual Comfort

When you are ready to shop for your light bulbs and fittings, consider two things: colour rendering and glare control.  Colour rendering measures the ability of the light source to reproduce the colours of objects as seen in ideal lighting conditions, that is daylight. The different colour rendering index (CRI) of fluorescent and incandescent lights explains why skin tones look lifeless under the former and more natural with the latter. Incandescent lights have a CRI of 100, which means there isn’t a change in appearance.

Incandescent lamps, halogen bulbs like the halogen MR16 lamp, which has a CRI of 100 per cent, and CFLs with a tri-phosphor coating, offer a colour rendering of over 80 per cent.

Choose fittings with good glare control - either a reflector, diffuser or shade. Good Interior designers make a clever lighting plan to create a good ambient that is also comfortable enough for the occupant of the room to carry out their desired activities.  But ultimately, lighting is a personal and subjective matter. Some homeowners prefer dark, moody caves while others might want their homes as bright as possible.


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