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As lighting determines how you use your home and feel about it at night or when it is dull outside, it is difficult to overestimate its importance. The subject is sometimes made needlessly complex, with much bandying-about of technical terms such as lumens and kelvins, but fortunately it is easy to distinguish between good and bad lighting. Good lighting relaxes and warms you, blending into the background and leaving you free to enjoy spaces and the people within them. Bad lighting competes for your attention, making you jumpy and tense.

The right lighting can reveal space that was formerly hidden. It can make rooms look bigger and turn awkward or unused areas into intimate corners. It can enhance architectural details and decorative fixtures, reducing the need for additional furnishings and clutter. It can even alter colours and textures.

Lighting needs to be considered from the earliest stages of planning a room. In fact, the position of the major light sources should be determined at the same time as the furniture layout. A scale plan of the room and the main items of furniture is invaluable as it allows you to work out the best positions for built-in sources, such as recessed downlighters. And it suggests where you might safely and usefully locate plug-in fittings, such as reading lamps and floor-standing uplighters. As many rooms are multi-purpose, a key requirement of any lighting system is that it should be flexible.

Most lighting needs can be met by a mix of three different types of light. Ambient or background light, from uplighters or wall-washers perhaps, helps you to move around a room and creates a little extra brightness on dull days. Task lights, such as desk lamps, bump up the brightness level in those areas where you work, read or pursue hobbies. You may also need display lighting to draw attention to favourite objects. Light fittings that are more beautiful than useful, such as chandeliers and candelabra, are sometimes referred to as decorative lighting.

It also helps to vary the direction and intensity of light fittings. A desk lamp with a pivoting head, for example, can be used as a small uplighter or wall-washer when it is not required for task lighting. Dimmer switches are ideal for changing the mood of a room from bright and business-like to softly relaxing and most designers regard them as essential.

There are plenty of ways to improve the quality of existing lighting without having to endure the mess and upheaval caused by chasing cables into walls or running them above ceilings. If your current arrangements consist simply of a central pendant fitting, try replacing the existing flex with a longer piece, so that the fitting can be moved to where it will be most useful, perhaps over a dining or display table. Alternatively, for greater flexibility, replace it with spotlights on a track system.

The range of plug-in fittings includes picture lights, clip-on spots and wall-washers as well as floor and table lamps. Of course, the flex is usually exposed but some modern designs turn it into a feature. In many cases it may be possible to play down the flex by running it along a skirting board, around a corner or behind furniture. There should never be any danger of someone tripping over it, however, and if there are no power sockets nearby, compromises may have to be made.

If there are several light sources in a room, but you are still unhappy with the effect, check the bulbs. They may simply be too bright, or dim, for their surroundings, or glare could be reduced by replacing a standard bulb with a crown-silvered one.

Changing shades also makes a big difference. Dark colours glow softly when the light is turned on, while translucent materials allow more light into a room and thereby help to make the space seem brighter. Those with a spreading shape cast a wider pool of light than upright examples. Repositioning a shade in relation to the bulb can help: the closer the bulb to the bottom edge of the shade, the larger the pool of light.

If adding extra power sockets or rerouting cables and conduits is inevitable or if you think the wiring system in your home might need to be updated, call in a qualified electrician. The installation of electrical systems and the use of fittings near water are governed by safety regulations. You may also be prevented from using certain types of fitting in very old buildings if the heat they emit cannot be sufficiently well isolated from the surroundings.

Designing with light

As well as working out which types of light fitting would best suit your needs, it is vital to ensure that they are correctly positioned. If you adhere to the principle that good lighting is efficient yet unobtrusive, it follows that fittings should be placed where they can do their job without casting unwanted shadows or creating glare.

Indirect lighting

One way to do this is to shine light indirectly into a room by using an uplighter to bounce it off the walls and ceiling. To do this effectively, the light source needs to be far enough away from the ceiling to create a broad glow yet high enough to be above the eye level of anyone standing in the room. Most floor-standing models are tall enough to satisfy these requirements but the more elongated designs can look awkward in low-ceilinged rooms. If you plan to use wall-mounted fittings, try holding them about 170cm   from the floor to begin with and adjust the height from there.

Glare-free lighting

Local pools of glare-free light can also be produced by fittings that encase the bulb in a translucent material, such as frosted

glass or paper, or by traditionally shaded lamps. These are best used in places where you can get away with low levels of background light, such as bedrooms or dining rooms. They are not really suitable for lighting your path through a space or for use as task lighting.

When used on its own, however, indirect lighting can make a room look flat and uninteresting. Visible sources of light, such as ceiling spots, some pendant fittings and even candles add sparkle and life; perhaps they remind us of man's original light sources, the sun and fire. But they need to be carefully controlled to avoid glare, which can be done in a number of ways: by reducing the size of the fitting's opening, as in an eyeball fitting; by using reflective material around or inside the bulb; or by making them appear less bright, by using low-wattage bulbs and dimmers.

Direct lighting

Special care needs to be taken with task and display lamps, as the bulb is more than likely to be exposed. When a table or floor lamp is being used as a task light, the bottom edge of the shade should be positioned high enough to allow light to fall on your work area or lap, but not so high that the bright inner surface of the shade can be seen.

Light distribution

The distribution of light around a room matters too. The areas where you are likely to sit and relax or work should obviously be brighter than the background, so that you are drawn into a pool of light. And displays need to be highlighted, but not to the same extent that they become distracting. In general, it is best to avoid over-dramatic contrasts of light and shade, especially if you are reading or working in a space, as this causes eye strain.

Of course, compromises will have to be made, especially if you are furnishing on a tight budget or find your options severely limited by a tenancy agreement. If the only source of light is a centrally-placed bulb on a flex, consider replacing it with a surface-mounted track or 'bare wire' system positioned close to one of the walls — this allows you to use several smaller light sources to wash the wall, and perhaps highlight an item of furniture such as a dining table. You will need to run a longer piece of flex from the centre of the ceiling to your new fitting, but this can be concealed in a channel painted to match the background.

Make the most of plug-in fittings too. Look out for designs that will take tungsten or halogen bulbs, as they can be used with dimmer switches. Consider also whether you can improve on existing or inherited lamps; replacing lined fabric lampshades with examples made from a light-diffusing material, such as paper, does much to brighten up a gloomy room, and don't forget that a simple change of bulb — from pearl to crown-silvered, for example — can do wonders for the efficiency and attractiveness of a fitting.

Selecting fittings

Finally, consider the style of the fittings. Choosing all the fittings from a single range or made in the same material can help give a co-ordinated look to a room scheme. But there is absolutely no reason at all why you shouldn't select the fittings on an individual basis, especially if they are attractive objects in their own right. However, bear in mind the overall look and feel of a room as well as the uses to which the fittings will be put. While a table lamp with a pleated silk shade may look cosy and elegant in a living room, it will seem incongruous, to say the least, in a busy, steam-filled kitchen.

Display lighting

As well as drawing attention to objects and pictures, display lighting subtly adds sparkle to interiors. Picture lights and cabinet fittings are two of the fixed or built-in options but a plug-in mini-spot or clip-on lamp often work just as well if you do not want to go to the trouble and expense of permanent fittings. To light a picture, the lamp should be angled towards the image to minimize awkward reflections and glare. Decorative objects are best lit from above or the front to accentuate their shape and texture. Large areas of displayed books or CDs should be evenly lit, so that their covers can be read easily.

Pendant fittings

As they are often to be found hanging from a single central point on a ceiling, pendant fittings echo the old-fashioned practice of lighting rooms with chandeliers. Unfortunately, a single overhead fitting produces a directional light that is both difficult to adjust and unflattering to faces and should not, therefore, be relied upon as the main source of light in a room. Instead, fit it with low-wattage bulbs so that it merely glows decoratively and add extra background light with wall lights or free-standing fittings. Simple pendant lamps and lanterns look best when they are grouped in some way. Try hanging two or three in a row over a kitchen counter, desk or dining table.


Compact and unobtrusive, downlights can be fixed directly onto the ceiling or partly or totally recessed. If they are fixed to a track, they can be removed

or repositioned, which is an advantage in areas where the furniture is regularly moved around. A row of downlights may be used to provide a wash of background light while individual lamps can be turned into display lights with the help of lenses and cowls. It is easy to recess downlights into a ceiling, as fittings are supplied with a template for cutting the hole and the wiring is the same as for a pendant lamp. Apartment dwellers may not be allowed to install these types of fittings, however.

Table lamps

Modernists may well sneer, but old-fashioned table lamps are among the most versatile fittings available. They are portable, need little room, provide a useful mixture of task and ambient lighting as well as elegantly underpin the style of your decor. The shade is the business end of the lamp, as the material from which it is made diffuses and colours the light, and its shape dictates how much light is cast below it: those with a spreading shape cast wider pools of light. When combining shades and bases, aim for a well-proportioned  and  balanced  look. Candlestick-style bases suit shades with a small diameter, while solid bases go better with wide-angle examples.

Wall lights

Wall lights have obvious advantages in areas where floor space is limited and need not involve chasing cables into the wall if the flex is attractive. The output of wall lights is usually directed up at the walls and ceiling, making them a good source of ambient light. As they are on display, their visual impact can be significant. A sconce can be used to give a bare patch of wall a sense of purpose while a row of lamps in a hallway adds rhythmic pattern.

Floor lamps

As much of the furniture in a room tends to have a strongly horizontal feel, the vertical lines of floor lamps often add a welcome contrast. They vary enormously in style and function, and range from traditional standard lamps which provide both ambient and task lighting, through spindly uplighters, to tough and powerful studio lights. Floor lamps are easy to move, some are even mounted on wheels, but for safety try to avoid having trailing flexes across thoroughfares and do not place the lamps in a position where there is a risk of causing an obstruction.

High quality Designer Lighting.

ADS are now stocking Franklite lighting in Northampton. The nation's top decorative lighting producers and suppliers. If in search of Traditional or Contemporary you're sure to see something in Franklite's latest collection. Franklite have produced the highest quality quality lighting products for household and trade use since 1973. Being a member of the Lighting Industry Association, you can be sure that all of the lights are examined and electronically subjected to testing to abide by all existing and applicable industry requirements prior to leaving the manufacturing plant.

Designer Ceiling & Wall Lighting

Abstract 460mm Flush Cream laser-cut flush ceiling shade with a white inner shade and base to conceal the lamp

Aphrodite 10 light Fitting in chrome finish with crystal candle pans. Supplied with integral transformer and G4 halogen lamps which are only suitable for dimming with a trailing edge dimmer..

Artemis 5 light Fitting in chrome finish with a crystal glass column and sconces. Shown with translucent silver fabric candle shades which have black tied thread detailing.