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They say getting the lighting right in a room is the most difficult aspect of interior design. Why

01:00 Fri 08th Feb 2002 |

A.� For a start we are all surrounded by it during every waking hour, but there is a huge difference between how a room looks in daylight and how it looks under artificial light.

The only time we are in control of it is after dark, but light is not like fabric or paint; you can't get a sample or swatch and test it out.

Lighting is also a very personal thing and we all see it differently. Some people can't stand overhead lighting while others feel relying on lamps and sidelights make the atmosphere gloomy.

Q.� So when you are planning a room what are the basic principles for lighting

A.� Make sure you consider how you are going to light the space from the very beginning. It is a common mistake to forget all about it until the room has been decorated and the furniture chosen, only to find that you have to cut holes in that newly plastered and painted wall or ceiling because you want to install spot or up lights.

Think about what the room is going to be used for. Is it a place to relax or is it functional, like an office or a kitchen This will be a major consideration when it comes to choosing which type of lighting you need.

Q.� What are the different types of lighting

A.� Lighting in the home is generally split in to four different categories; ambient, task, accent and decorative. They all serve particular purposes or create different atmospheres, but in the average home you will probably mix them in at least some of the rooms.

Q.� So what is ambient lighting

A.� Ambient lighting is used to produce a relaxed atmosphere so it is most used in the living room and bedroom. Forget harsh overhead bulbs here, use table lamps, standard lamps, wall-fitted up and down lights to create a subtle, comfortable unobtrusive glow around and below eye level.

Q.� And task lighting

A.� This is strong, targeted lighting needed for close-up activities such as working at a desk or cooking. For this you want moveable, angled desk lamps or standard lamps or spots from the ceiling that can be trained on a particular area like an armchair used for reading or work surface.

Q.� Accent lighting

A.� Accent lighting is employed to draw attention to a feature in the room. It could be down light to highlight a picture, a small lamp put on shelves to brighten up a bookcase or overhead spots. Again, it is best to opt for spots which allow you to change their angle so you can move the room about without having to changing the lighting system.

Q. Isn't decorative lighting the same as accent lighting

A.� Not quite. This is where the lamp or light itself is the feature, not performing a specific task. Think of things like lava lamps, candlestick lamps or even different coloured light bulbs used to create an effect.

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By Tom Gard

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