Design dilemma: Tips for fantastic lighting

Interior designer Medy Navani explains why lighting is the cornerstone of any design scheme

A bare bulb attached to a well-worn piece of wood are the features of this lamp from Flamant
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What are your top tips for getting the lighting right in an interior?

Lighting is probably the most important aspect of architecture, interior design and landscaping, because of its power to influence the mood of a room and impact the perceived size of a space.

Lighting is one of my favourite parts of the interior design process - it's like magic, and small actions can create big results. With so many unique and interesting options to choose from, well thought-out lighting can completely change the look and feel of your home or office. It can highlight elements, change proportions and forms, create illusions, hide certain elements or create peace in a space. If architecture is the body, light is the soul.

As a starting point, lighting should always be kept soft and inviting, so dispose of those harsh fluorescent bulbs and replace them with bulbs that offer a hint of amber warmth. This can be achieved with a quality LED light bulbs of around 3000 kelvin. To create real cosiness, always try to keep your light as close to the ground as possible. The lower the light source, the more romantic the effect. That is why we always select candle light for special events. Stay away from spot lights and big chandeliers, and instead try standing lights or table lamps.

Lighting design is a game of light and shadow, and to create atmosphere, you should aim to incorporate dark areas and light areas. Consider choosing light shades that project a certain mood via their structure or texture. Affordable fixes include hanging bamboo weave baskets or translucent light oak shades. Introducing a concealed floor lamp is also the perfect way to create mood lighting behind certain room features or furniture. Smaller reading or atmospheric lamps are a great way to add more depth and cosiness to a room.

A shell-inspired lamp from Zara Home
A shell-inspired lamp from Zara Home

If you have ceiling lights, try to direct them towards important objects like paintings or sculptures, or even fresh flowers. I would also always select lights that are dimmable, so you can avoid over-lighting areas. Keep in mind that in kitchens or more “operational” rooms, we usually want to have no shadows at all.

As rule of thumb, if you want to keep lighting low and create a romantic atmosphere in your home, your best option is always candlelight. The soft glow of a candle is one of my favourite ways to create a sense of romance and warmth in the home. Display candles on your coffee table, side tables, bookshelf, windowsill or kitchen tables, and burn to complement the soft light of your floor or decorative lamps, keeping overhead lights dimmed or off. Essential oil-infused candles are a nice option to consider, so you can sit back and enjoy the subtle spa-like fragrances wafting throughout your home as you wind down. Remember to be fire safe, use your good sense and obviously don't leave open flames near curtains or in other potentially flammable spots.

Lights are becoming increasingly smarter, and adapting to our needs. A very practical option that allows you to play with light is the LIFX colour light bulb. This smart bulb can be controlled via an app on your phone, which allows you to turn the light on or off, and change its colour. With these kinds of tools at your fingertips, there’s no excuse not to get the lighting in your space just right.

Medy Navani. Courtesy Medy Navani
Medy Navani. Courtesy Medy Navani

Medy Navani, creative director and founder of Design Haus Medy,; Instagram: @designhausmedy

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