Designers see the light

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 July, 2012, 12:00am


When it comes to home lighting, the trend is towards larger fixtures and softer, warmer design elements.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been the buzzword for some time. Manufacturers are embracing them because they are compact, which means it no longer limits designers of decorative fixtures.

It is now possible to design and fabricate fixtures in new shapes, sizes and configurations that couldn't be done before with incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs.

There is also a movement towards industrial style - a re-imagination of the past, with an eye towards the future. One of these styles is the cage light, originally used in workshops and factories, and featuring a single bulb with a protective wire cage on the outside.

Despite their industrial history, contemporary cage lights can create an intimate feel in the home, with new designs in finishes such as bronze, deep rust and chrome patinas. These lights work especially well in kitchens. Also in kitchens, oversized pendant lights can add a dramatic look and a modern restaurant feel.

In contrast to singularly large pendant lights, clusters of smaller mini-pendant lights can be just as effective. These work well in a dining room and can be hung precisely for a refined look, or mixed and matched at varying heights for something more eclectic. When it comes to materials, cool, polished metal has been popular for the past decade, but this year tones are warmer and softer with bronze, gold and copper taking centre stage.

In addition to metallics, texture is big news in the form of natural fibres, such as raffia or leather, and woven or recycled products, such as plastic and rubber.

Lighting fixtures made from eco-friendly materials are also in demand. Wood, stones, crystals and other renewable sources have all been used.

When looking at lighting your home, take advantage of its natural light by opening the curtains or using light, bright colours on the walls and soft furnishings.

Try using compact fluorescent bulbs that last a lot longer. Dimming lights can quadruple the bulb's life. So-called 'smart' dimmers, driven by microprocessors, offer convenience.

Smart dimmers can be set to provide lighting to suit various functions.

Press one button for dining, another for lighting up homework, and another for party time. Motion sensors or timers are also an energy efficient lighting option and are good for home security.

The finishing touch in a well-lit kitchen or bathroom is what is hidden - the under-cabinet light which adds a sense of depth and texture. Try using an LED for an energy efficient light that's bright and easy to work beneath.