Skip to main content

Beginner’s guide to lighting

By November 2, 2018October 2nd, 2019Design, Home Staging, Lighting, Knowledge & Tips

Absolute Project Management’s beginner’s guide to lighting

Lighting should be one of the first things you (or your designer) consider when renovating or redesigning your home.

  • Lighting can make or break a design scheme (Too bright?  Too dingy?) AND
  • The electrics to be moved/ changed will be one of the first items started when work commences on site.

Light fittings & places to put them

You might want to consider:

Ceilings lights – commonly:

  • Recessed downlights – check there’s a ceiling void into which to recess them – can be difficult in concrete ceilings
  • Pendant – from simple paper shade to opulent chandelier and anywhere in between
  • Ceiling mounted light – suitable for low ceilings or certain sorts of task lighting
Lighting Pendants by Original BTC, Squint and Tom Raffield

Ceiling Pendants from L-R: Subtle porcelain by Original BTC / Opulent fabric chandelier by Squint / Warm & dramatic wood by Tom Raffield


Wall lights

These can be used for task lighting (picture lights are a classic example, or bedside reading lights) but are commonly used decoratively to very good effect – these are usually switched centrally but can be locally controlled.

Wall lighting casting angular shadows on blue-grey wall

Simple plaster wall lights give a decorative wash of light


Concealed lighting

There are numerous options – with the development of good quality, flexible LED strips and bulbs in endless shapes and sizes.  We’ve used them to wash a wall with colour, provide task lighting beneath wall cabinets, highlight a beautiful architectural feature (moulding, etc.), provide subtle but essential task lighting in a windowless bathroom

Shelves with concealed lighting either side of a window seat

Concealed LED lighting in shelves give a lovely glow



Next, consider how to turn your lights on.  Some helpful jargon:

  • Circuits – the ‘set’ of lights controlled by one switch
  • Switching options:
    • On/ off from one place
    • On/ off from more than one place
    • Dimmable
    • 5 amp (usually, decorative floor or table lamps controlled centrally and locally)
  • Programmable – Lutron, etc. – that’s part of a different post…(watch this space)
  • ‘Plug in and play’ controllable by remote/ phone app – for amazing flexibility (but NB risk of trailing wires)

Here’s an example of an electrical symbols ‘key’:

Key showing electrical lighting symbols for interior planning

Here are some examples of the electrical items we consider when planning


Colour of white, and Kelvin

There’s a whole separate article (again, watch this space), if not thesis, to be written on this subject but put simply, the colour of (white) light is measured on the Kelvin scale – lower Kelvin is yellower, warmer light; higher is bluer and starker/ colder. The choice is an important one, influenced by how the space is to be used, and prevailing natural light among others. We tend to use high 2000s of Kelvin for most living and sleeping spaces. We’re very allergic to the trend when LEDs were first introduced for using high, bright, blueish light for all spaces – certainly very bright but you probably don’t want your dining space to be lit like an operating theatre….

Cosy nook with recessed downlight and wall lighting

Warm white bulbs in the recessed downlight and wall light keep this nook cosy


Obviously, once you’ve chosen the sort of fitting, how it’s switched and the colour of white, you’re sorted – only joking, you now have to confirm:

  • The actual fitting – how big is it?  Will it fit physically and proportionately to the space?  How is it cabled?  Does it need a transformer – if so, where will this be fitted?  Does the ceiling/ wall need to be reinforced before hanging it?
  • Style of face plate (of the switch itself – white plastic, polished brass, transparent glass, rounded edges, square edges, the profile of the buttons themselves…)

Expert help

As you can tell from the above, lighting is both important and complicated, so it’s well worth getting expert advice.

We design beautiful lighting schemes and source gorgeous fittings, across a range of price points, for clients. We work with skilled electricians to install and commission the requisite cabling, switching and safety features and ensure compliance with the CDM regulations 2015 and the industry current updates to the Building Regs, chiefly Part P.

If you have a renovation project in mind, get in touch.

For advice lighting your home, read our Lighting series:

Share this: