November 2017 | The Home Design School

Archive Monthly Archives: November 2017


Christmas Interior Design

A few years ago, I had redecorated our living room to include lots of pale pinky- purples. I had replaced curtains, soft furnishings and even bought a lovely dusty pink-purple loveseat from

I was really pleased with the look, until it came to getting out our Christmas decorations. I love our Christmas decorations, and I have lovingly added to them year after year, increasing my carefully curated collection. I have items from all around the world, and many of them have unique and special memories for me.

So when I got the box of decorations out, the last thing I expected to feel was disappointment. As I looked at my carefully wrapped rows of baubles and ornaments, I realised that they were going to clash terribly with my purple and pink decor. 

Now I know that for many people, they wouldn’t care, but for me, having clashing decorations is a no-no. I just can’t do it.

So back in their box they went, and I traipsed off to the shops to replace all of my decorations with pinks, silvers and lilac decorations, straight off the shelf with a heavy heart.

Once I got to the shops, however, I realised that it didn’t cost as much as I thought it would to replace most of my Christmas decorations. Of course, they weren’t lovingly picked over a lifetime, and they had no sentimental value, but they were pretty and – most importantly – they matched my decor.

Fast forward a few years, and I now have a much more neutral, pared down scheme in my living room with soft creams and greys. The pinks and soft purples are a thing of the past and against my new neutral backdrop, I can happily bring out my beautiful red ornaments once again t have pride of place. 

If you are in a quandry this year about which colours to choose, or you just fancy a refresh, check out the top colour trends doing to rounds this year.

1. Traditional Red and Green

 Laura Ashley Laura Ashley

As always, red and green is a classic Christmas combination, and this year is no exception. Select a few red ornaments to hang on the tree, and wrap presents underneath in neutral paper with red bows. Choose gold metallics to complement the red, and hang tartan bows for that country classic look.

2. Scandi Inspired Red and White

 Homebase Christmas Tree Homebase Christmas Tree

A red and white colour combination brings a fresh take on the traditional red and green and lends a scandi vibe to your Christmas. Use a white flocked tree and stick to these two colours for a clean look.

3. Let it Snow!

 Marks and Spencer Marks and Spencer

You can’t get more wintry than an all-white scheme at Christmas. Install a white tree, and bring in white and silver baubles for a snowscape in your living room. Warm things up a little with black or wooden furniture, to stop the room from feeling too cold.

4. Warm Metallics

 Homesense Homesense

Over recent years there has been a real trend towards using warm metallics like gold, copper and brass, and this is now creeping into our Christmas decor too. Look out for lanterns, decorative stars and baubles in these colours, and complement them with pinecones. Choose a tree to help display them against an all green backdrop. 

5. Peacock Blue and Purple

 Poundland Poundland

If you’re into a more vibrant look, then go to town with a strong marriage of purple and peacock- blue. Dress your tree with angel wings and contrasting baubles, and ramp up the bling with gold metallics elsewhere in the room.

Once you’ve settled on your Christmas look, come and share your decorating efforts in our Facebook group.

Until next time x

Main Image Source: John Lewis

5 of The Best Outdoor Christmas Lights

Outdoor Christmas Lights

Now that the clocks have gone back, the dark winter nights can seem to go on for a long time, especially if you are leaving the house in the morning and coming home at night in the dark. 

But rather than just sulking our way through these dark months, let’s brighten up our outdoor space by choosing some great outdoor lights to welcome us home at night.

1: Create a  Canopy of Lights

 A canopy of Christmas lights by  Lights 4 Fun  A canopy of Christmas lights by Lights 4 Fun

Suspend a netting of outdoor fairy lights above the entrance to your front door to create a warm and welcoming walkway into your home. Set the lights on a timer, so that when you arrive home, it’s all been done for you. Who wouldn’t like to come home to this warm welcome?!

2. Line Your Pathway with Lights

 Luna Moon Outdoor Lights by  Babatude  Luna Moon Outdoor Lights by Babatude

Line up a row of different sized outdoor lights along the pathway to your front door. Use storm lanterns with battery operated tea lights, or for something more impressive, check out these luna lights from Babatude. 

3. Wind fairy lights into trees and topiary

 Battery opertated fairy lights from  Lights 4 Fun  Battery opertated fairy lights from Lights 4 Fun

Wind a string of fairy lights into topiary trees or plants and place them either side of your front door, or dot them around the garden. Choose weather proof, battery operated lights for a no-fuss solution. Green wired lights help them blend into the background during the day. 

4. Suspend a Chandelier (or Four)

 Starburst Lights by Lights 4 Fun Starburst Lights by Lights 4 Fun

Veer away from traditional Christmas lighting by hanging a surprising quartet of starburst chandeliers outside your home. With twinkling settings, these are sure to welcome you home in style.

5. Go to Town With an Outdoor Grotto

 A range of Christmas Lights from  Wilkinson  A range of Christmas Lights from Wilkinson

If you have little ones at home, or you just love the magic of Christmas, why not create a cosy grotto outside. Attach string lighting around your log store or shed, hang fairy lights from trees, and if you feel like pushing the boat out, throw in a woodland animal or stag head for good measure!

How will you be lighting your home for Christmas? Come and join us in our free Facebook group and share your lighting ideas for Christmas.


Living room with lights

Getting the lighting right in your home relies on having a good balance between shadow and light.

Shadow can be a good thing: if you want to create an atmospheric, moody corner, or if perhaps you want to cast a spotlight on a piece of art, then shadow has its uses. But shadows in the wrong place can ruin how a room functions.

So why do shadows happen, and what can we do to avoid having shadows in places we don’t want them?

Directional Light Vs Diffused Light

The way that light is emitted by a light source falls into two categories: directional light and diffused light, and each has a different purpose.

Directional lighting is the sort of light where there is a clear beam from a light source, such as a spotlight or a desk lamp for example. Most task lights cast a directional light by necessity. It is useful if you need to see what you are doing, rather than just having lights for mood or ambience. 

However, directional beams of light bounce off of reflective surfaces and can cause glare, and it is directional lighting which is to blame for creating shadows in places that you don’t want them.

The second type of lighting then, is diffused lighting, which means a beam of light which has been softened or spread out in some way, usually by using a lamp shade. Lights can also be shaded by using a dimmer switch to decrease the intensity of the light. Diffused lighting produces fewer shadows.

Ambient lighting (such as your main room pendant) is usually non-directional, and falls into the diffused lighting category. 

How to prevent shadows

Wherever possible, use diffused lighting to avoid reflection, glare and shadows. Use light shades and lampshades to soften the lighting from bulbs and install dimmer switches in your living, dining and sleeping spaces. 

Too much overhead lighting means that you get in between the light source and the surface, and so this will always cast a shadow.

Shadows are cast when you (or an object) get between the light source and the reflective surface. Too much overhead lighting can mean that any people in the room block the light source, so one way to avoid shadows is to ensure that you position your lights so that this doesn’t happen.

For example, placing a central ceiling light above a dining room table will mean that shadows will be be cast by the people sitting around the table, whereas using low hanging pendant down lighters above the middle of the table will mean that no shadows will be cast on the plates, or on the people eating.

 Hanging pendants low above a dining room table means that the light isn't blocked by people, and so no shadows are cast. Use dimmer switches to keep the light soft and ambient.  Image via Davey Lighting.  Hanging pendants low above a dining room table means that the light isn’t blocked by people, and so no shadows are cast. Use dimmer switches to keep the light soft and ambient. Image via Davey Lighting.

In areas where ambient light is used (such as a living area), this is fairly easy to achieve, but in areas where you need task lighting, it’s a little harder. 

Shadows can be a particular problem in the kitchen where you find that, no matter where you stand, you block the light, exactly where you need it. Prevent this by installing under cabinet lighting, directional spots or consider using lamps on the work surface.

In office space, use a directional lamp on the desk- make sure that you position it opposite your writing hand, or aim the light beam directly onto your keyboard, and not onto the screen to reduce glare.

So if you find that you are getting shadows in unwelcome places, check the tips above, and solver your shadow problems. 

If you’d like some extra help with lighting, click to download my 10 top tips for lighting your home. Just click the image.

Until Next Time x


Pendant lights for interior design

Getting the lighting right is often an after thought when it comes to lighting our homes, and yet the way that a room is illuminated at night can make a huge difference, both to how the room functions as well as to how it feels.

“Light is the magical ingredient that makes or breaks a space”

— Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, Designer

There are three main types of lighting for a room, ambient (the main light in the room), task and decorative (also known as accent lighting). You can read more about these three types here

The secret to lighting your room well is to use a mixture of all three types of lighting, at different strengths, and in different ways. Layering the lighting in your room by using a mixture of pendants/ chandeliers, table lamps, floor lamps and under counter lights gives depth and dimension to a room, highlighting key architectural features and setting the mood for the space. Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be! 

Identify your lighting needs

The type and quantity of lighting you will need will depend upon the purpose of the room. Generally speaking, you will need stronger lighting in rooms where you are completing tasks (such as kitchens), and more gentle light in rooms where you are relaxing (a living room for example).

Many of us live in open plan spaces these days, and this means that our lighting needs can change according to how we are using a room throughout the day. A dining room table, for example could be used for completing homework one evening, but for hosting a dinner party the next evening. Both of these activities require different levels of lighting.

This can be planned for, by ensuring that the light bulbs are strong enough for tasks, and then adding dimmer switches so that the light can be softened for entertaining. Side table lamps can also help to spread the light across the room.

How much light?

In last week’s blog post, we looked at how you measure the strength of light emitted by a bulb, by using a measure called lumens. Lumens are displayed on the side of the light bulb packaging. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the bulb will be. But how many lumens do you need?

Now this isn’t as straightforward as I’d like, but stay with me here as I explain.

A bulb of say, 1000 lumens might look really bright in a very small room, but in a much larger room, the light is going to appear dimmer because there is not enough brilliance to shine across the whole room. Make sense?

So lumens on their own are not enough to tell us how much light we need because we need to consider the size of the room that the bulb will be in too.

To work out how bright we want the room to be we use a measurement called LUX. LUX takes into account the lumens within an area. 1 LUX is equal to the light given off by 1 lumen over 1 square metre. 

As discussed above, different rooms and different tasks will need different lighting amounts. And so the first thing we need to do is to decide how bright (in lux) we want our room to be. Below is a rough guide to how many lumens you want to achieve in different rooms, or for different tasks.

The Ideal Brightness for Different Tasks in Different Rooms

Relaxation rooms (e.g. TV rooms) 120-150 LUX

For reading: 200 LUX

Kitchen: 150-200 LUX (ambient), 250-400 LUX (task)

Dining Room: 100-200 LUX (ambient)

Domestic Office: 150 LUX (ambient), 400 LUX (task)

Home Workshop or for Detailed Work: (e.g. sewing) 500- 700 LUX

Bedroom: 100 LUX (ambient), 200- 300 LUX (task e.g. reading)

Bathroom: 100-200 (ambient), 300-400 LUX (task)

So once you know how bright you want the room to be, you just multiply the brightness in LUX by the area of your room, and this gives you the bulb strength you need in lumens.

Let’s look at an example:

If you have a living room that is 3 metres wide by 4 metres long, you would have a room with an area of 12 square metres.

Because it’s a living room, where you’ll be relaxing and watching TV, you probably want the room to have a brightness of around 120 LUX.

So to know how many lumens you need, you just multiply the LUX by the area. So in this example, 120 LUX x 12 sq m= 1440 lumens.

So to light this room, you need either one bulb of 1440 lumens, or several bulbs which add up to 1440 lumens. 

If in doubt, buy a brighter bulb than you think you need, and install a dimmer switch. 

Share the Light Out

Once you know how many lumens you need for your space to be lit adequately, you then need to decide how many light fittings (lamps, pendants etc) you want to use. 

You could, of course, just use one bulb in a central pendant light and be done, but this rarely casts the best light around a room. The secret to good lighting is to layer the lumens you need for the room across different heights. So consider using table lamps, floor standing lamps and wall sconces as well as pendants.

Take the number of lumens and share them out across your different light fittings. 

So if your room requires 1000 lumens, for example, you could use two side lamps, each with a 300 lumens bulb, and a floor lamp with 400. 

If you’ve found this blog post useful, you might also like to grab my 10 top tips for lighting your home. Just click the image. 

Until next time x

Main Image Source:


Light bulbs

If you’ve been to your local hardware store in search of light bulbs recently, you could be forgiven for being overwhelmed by the choice available. Gone are the days when you could just walk in and buy a 60 watt incandescent bayonet and know that this would be suitable for most purposes. 

In today’s post, we are going to turn the spotlight (excuse the pun) onto light bulbs, and make your lighting shopping that little bit easier. Here are the 5 things you need to know, before you head out the door.

1. The Type Of Light Bulb

Light bulbs used to be almost exclusively incandescent. They emitted a yellowy light that was warm and inviting, but they were also horribly inefficient, costly and damaging to the environment. Incandescent bulbs have been phased out in most developed countries in favour of more environmentally friendly options (hooray to that).

The main options available now are Halogen, CFL and LED.

Halogen bulbs are the closest to the old incandescent light bulbs in terms of the quality of light they produce, yet they are also the most energy-inefficient. Although they are cheaper than their more energy efficient cousins (LEDs and CFLs) they don’t last as long either, so you’ll be replacing them more quickly – making them not such a cheap option after all.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) consume around a quarter of the energy of incandescent bulbs so they are a much better choice for the environment. The drawback of CFLs is that they often take a while to light up to full strength, although this technology has improved recently. They also contain trace amounts of mercury which means that they need to be disposed of carefully, at an appropriate recycling facility. CFLs cannot be dimmed, so if you have a multi-purpose room where you need to change between task and mood lighting, CFLs won’t be the best choice. 

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are the best choice environmentally, and the technology has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. They used to be available only in horrid looking energy efficient styles, emitting a harsh white light, but now they are much more versatile than before: you can buy LEDs with clear bulbs showing the filament, as well as buying strips for under kitchen cabinets, to flood feature walls or to hide behind curtain pelmets. LEDs don’t emit UV rays, which means they don’t contribute towards fading on fabrics. In short, LEDs are the best all-round choice.

2. The Fittings You Need

Some lamps and lights use a bayonet fitting whereas others use a screw fitting. These come in different sizes too, and to further complicate things, some spotlights and tube lights have pin fittings. Although a new light bulb will have the type and size of fitting specified on the box, you need to know what your old bulb was to make sure you get the same type to replace it. Before you head out to the shops, grab the old bulb and take it with you so that you can compare the size and type in the shop.

 1. Candle Bulb with Screw Fixing | 2. Small Globe with Screw Fixing | 3. Large White Globe with Screw Fixing | 4. Stick Bulb with Bayonet Fixing | 5. Spiral Bulb with Bayonet Fixing | 6. Spot light with Pin Fixing | 7. Mirrored Spot Light with Screw Fixing | 8. Strip Light with Pin Fixing.  1. Candle Bulb with Screw Fixing | 2. Small Globe with Screw Fixing | 3. Large White Globe with Screw Fixing | 4. Stick Bulb with Bayonet Fixing | 5. Spiral Bulb with Bayonet Fixing | 6. Spot light with Pin Fixing | 7. Mirrored Spot Light with Screw Fixing | 8. Strip Light with Pin Fixing. 

3. The Shape of the Bulb

If you are buying a spotlight or a strip light, then of course the shape of the bulb is predetermined for you, But if you are buying for a pendant or lamp, the shape of the bulb is largely down to personal preference. Bulbs mostly come in large and small globe shapes, candle shapes, spirals or sticks. If your bulb is going to be on view (inside a pendant for example) then think about the aesthetics of how the bulb will look. Edison filament bulbs for example are attractive, whereas a fluorescent stick light is a bit of an eye sore. Beware of the height of different bulbs too. A globe bulb is often best for table lamps, as a stick lamp would protrude above the top of the lamp shade!

4. The Colour Temperature of the Light

The colour of lightbulbs is on a spectrum, from warm orange-yellow at one end to cool blue-white at the other end. The ‘colour temperature’ is measured in Kelvins. To give you an idea, a warm, orangey candlelight would be around 1500 Kelvins, whereas braod daylight is around 5000 Kelvins and a cold blue light could be around 6-7000 Kelvins. So the higher the Kelvins, the cooler/ bluer the light. Generally, lower Kelvins are better for living and relaxation areas, and higher Kelvins are better for task orientated spaces such as bathrooms and kitchens.

5. The Brightness of the Bulb

The final factor to consider is how bright you want the bulb to be. Brightness used to be measured in Watts, but as this was a measurement of energy used, it’s no longer appropriate for energy efficient lights. Brightness is now measured in Lumens instead, and most light bulb packaging shows the equivalent lumens in the old measurement of watts. If you buy a dimmable bulb, the packaging will usually tell you the range of lumens you can achieve at its lowest and highest.

The amount of lumens you need in your bulb depends on a number of factors. Firstly, the purpose of the room. For example, you may want a brighter light in a room where you are carrying out tasks such as working or putting on make up, whereas you would want a less bright light in rooms where you were socialising.

The second factor to consider is the size of the room. A larger room will need a greater number of lumens whereas a smaller room will need fewer.

And the third and final factor to consider is how many light sources you have in your room. To give you an example, an average living room will need somewhere between 3-5000 lumens, but this can be made up from a combination of different light sources, such as floor lighting, lamps and pendant. In next week’s post, we’ll take a look at how to create a lighting scheme, making sure that you have sufficient lighting, spread between different light sources. 

A Quick Summary: Questions to Ask Yourself

1. Type of Light Bulb- Halogen, CFL or LED?

2. Fitting- bayonet, screw or pin? What size?

3. Bulb Shape- globe, candle, spiral, stick?

4. Colour in Kelvins- Yellow, white or blue light?

5. Brightness in Lumens- what is the purpose of the room (task or relaxation)? How many lights are you using combined? How large is your room?

So there we have it, everything you need to know about buying light bulbs for your home! 

If you would like to know more about lighting your room, grab my free guide, 10 top tips for lighting your home. Just click on the image to sign up.

Be sure to tune in for next week’s post, all about how many lamps and lights to use, to light your room properly.

Until next time x