Chance to be seen in the right light

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 January, 2011, 12:00am

Lighting your home is more than just providing illumination. When done well, it gives a cosy atmosphere and can even make you better looking.

William Kwan, from LUMIN8 lighting design, says well-planned lighting will feel inviting and offer lots of flexibility in terms of the number and range of lights, and control over brightness.

'Think about restaurants or bars that are dimly lit for atmosphere, whereby the light is directed only to where it needs to be,' Kwan explains.

'This results in a quiet ambience so that you feel comfortable in the surroundings and you can easily spend a few hours [dining in comfort].

'Compare that to a 'cha chaan teng', where all the lights are blazing and you want to be out of there as soon as you've finished.'

In the lounge or dining room, Kwan says it is preferable to have a combination of different kinds of lights - for ceilings, tables and floors - and dimmers that allow for different mood and brightness settings.

The bedroom needs lighting that helps you relax and wind down. This means that general lighting can be more discreet. 'Lighting that's soft, soothing and warm, that isn't harsh nor produces lots of glare, is what's needed,' Kwan says.

'For the bedside and for those who read before sleeping, go for lighting that's adjustable so that your partner isn't disturbed by lots of light bouncing off the various surfaces.'

He says a common complaint from women is that bathroom lighting is never sufficient - especially when applying make-up.

In addition to having enough light, it's also important to have lighting that doesn't create excessive shadows on your face (lighting from the left and right side will eliminate this).

His advice is to use lighting that accurately reflects your skin tone. 'Light that's too white can make skin look ghostly white or pasty,' he says.

In the kitchen, food preparation requires plenty of functional, or task, lighting, so lights fixed to the underside of overhead cabinets are always useful. 'For lighting the general space, the good old fluorescent is generally overlooked, but these create lots of good-quality, cost-effective light,' he says.

'And they now come in much smaller diameters, so that means slimmer and more stylish fittings, making them not as visible unless you want to make a bold statement. Another practical consideration to bear in mind is that Chinese cuisine usually involves lots of frying, which generates grease, so lights that can be wiped clean will mean easy maintenance.'

Environmental concerns are also a priority in the home, with many people asking for energy saving lights. But Kwan recommends that you look for the right colour temperature before contemplating making a purchase. 'Homes need to have warm inviting tones, not harsh bright blue tones which are hard on the eyes,' he says.

With the recent advances in LEDs (light emitting diodes), savings in energy can be considerable and exciting lighting effects can be produced that were previously unavailable with traditional lighting sources.

For instance, LEDs can offer colour changes that will completely alter the mood of a space. LEDs can also be placed into curved spaces so that the light appears continuous.