The importance of lighting

In the design process, at least in Poland, lighting is usually the last consideration- ironically it is the first element of the “fit out” process.

In Poland, typically a new home is purchased “shell and core”–this means it is empty- literally a cement box.

The first works a construction team will do is the electrical and white installations- moving the wires to accomodate the lighting and doing the rough in.

This means you need to plan exactly where your lighting will be in relation to the furniture that will be in the house.

Types of lighting:





Ambient or General lighting is usually mounted on the ceiling and illuminates the entire space.  It can also be wall mounted but the key is that it lights the entire room.  A dining room chandelier for example.

Accent lighting is the drama lighting.  It is used to create a focal point or add interest to a small area of a room and to highlight what is in that small space. Recessed down lights are a good example of accent lighting.

Task lighting is a stronger light that is located where people work- for example, under cabinet lighting in the kitchen or a desk lamp.

Natural light, of course, is lighting that comes from our sun.  It varies in strength based on the season we are in.

So….what does all this mean?

Well, in order to make your living space work for you- you should have a few types of lighting.  A room needs a general illumination but also if work is done in the space there should be a stronger lighting source to aid the person doing the task.  Accent lighting is an easy way to create drama- by simply adding a picture light it is possible to highlight what is hung on your wall.

Here are a few samples from my home.  This is a new construction home- the photos above were how we bought the house.  We dropped the ceiling in almost every room to accommodate recessed down lights.

The down lights are installed in the hallway and are centred to the closet doors.

 I designed a vignette picture wall behind the sofa that has four pin lights to accent the photos there.

When the general lighting of the room is turned off this accent lighting creates a great ambiance in the room.

This is my kitchen lighting.  I have quite a small kitchen with very little upper cabinets.  I wanted to highlight the marble on the wall but also wanted decorative task lighting.  The exhaust hood has two lights in it to help with the task of cooking.

The chandelier I would consider the Ambient or General lighting.  It is in the centre of the room and illuminates the entire space.  My living/dining/kitchen are an open floor plan so it was important during the planning process to make sure all lighting sources complimented each other.

This is the stair lighting.  There is one going up and one going down.  I just love the pattern of the glass but also the shadows it creates on the wall.

My bathroom lighting.  The hanging glass ball also creates a great atmosphere and the sconce over the mirror help to highlight the good and the bad of those looking in the mirror 😉

Above is a plastic chandelier that hangs in my six year old daughter’s room.  There is nothing wrong with feeling like a princess every so often!

This is the chandelier that hangs in the upstairs hall.  As you can see I really like clear glass with interesting decorative elements.  I like having functional lighting but also something that creates an interesting shadow on the wall.

Most of these lamps, with the exception of the chandeliers, were purchased second hand.  A lot of thought went into the lighting in this house and I am pleased with it.  We had a house warming party and one of my husbands friends told him that the lighting in the kitchen didn’t go with the rest of the house.  That is ok.  He didn’t hurt my feelings- but the lighting reflects those who live in the house.

We are a bit of a mix.  Two cultures, two languages- my house is lived in.  I like old and I like new and I am happy with the outcome!!

So how does lighting relate to store design?  Well…it needs to effectively highlight what you are selling from all angles but it also needs to be attractive enough to entice people to want to visit the store.

The first shot is a picture of the kitchen display wall in the store.  You can see half of the chandelier, the second photo gives you a better idea. (I am working on more photos- please be patient!!)  I have four chandeliers installed in the store front.  They compliment the style of the store and are strong enough to highlight everything in the store.  I have gotten a lot of compliments on them and  a few people actually wanted to buy them!

So……remember your lighting!  There are so many factors to consider when designing or decorating a home but lighting is both functional and beautiful- it can highlight what is in your room, allow you to work properly and add a general character to the design of a room.


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