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

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