How to avoid spoiling your room decor - 5 common lighting mistakes.

So February is upon us and we’re heading towards spring at last. 

Spring. That time of year when the days start to stretch again. The gloom finally begins to lift and we’re feeling inspired to spruce up our home decor.

Have you ever spent ages freshening up the decor in a room, stood back to admire your handiwork and then thought ‘Hmmm…something’s not quite right’.

You reckon you did a good job with the colours. The brand new rug looks fabulous. The accessories you chose complement everything perfectly, and yet…..there’s definitely something not working.

The problem could very well be your lighting.

Lighting can often be a last minute thought when decorating a room when, in fact, it should be one of the first things you consider. It’s especially true when doing a large project - anything involving building works, new kitchen, new bathroom etc. where cabling, sockets etc need to be planned well ahead and often fitted early on in the process. There’s a lot which can’t be fitted retrospectively.

Get it right and it can be the star of the show. Get it wrong, however, and it will spoil the whole look of the room.

Make sure you’re not making one of these lighting mistakes in your home. 

1. Single Central Ceiling Light Fittings

Mistake - The ‘big light’ is routinely on. 

This light should only be switched on when either -

  1. You’re decorating
  2. You’ve lost your contact lens

Light from a central ceiling fitting is sterile, harsh and usually far too bright for the room. By all means buy a trendy shade or fixture to dress it with, but don’t rely on it routinely for daily use.

2. Under Unit Lighting

Mistake - It’s entirely missing from the design.

This should be incorporated into your room at every opportunity. 

In a kitchen it offers great task lighting or floor level lighting when fitted to your kick boards.

In a bathroom it gives great mood lighting under a cabinet - relaxing low-light soak in the tub anyone?

In a lounge area it could really add to the soft ambience if fitted under a shelf.

Use it. Lots.

3. White Light Bulbs

Mistake - Choosing the wrong colour of white light bulb.

Did you know that light bulbs come with a colour temperature guide on the side? They vary enormously from a blueish ‘cool’ white to an amber ‘warm’ white - make sure you choose the right one for your needs. Here’s a great article by The Lightbulb Company to help you decide.

4. Mood Lighting

Mistake - Not enough available options.

Think of your lighting as ‘decor’ layers in the room. How many layers does your activity need?

In this era of open plan, multi use living space, you’re going to need a variety of light levels available for all the different activities that take place there. From cooking to dining, watching TV to curling up with a good book. Chances are they may all happen within the same room and need a range of available light levels.

The ideal solution to this (and worth considering if you’re remodelling completely) would be to install a pre-set lighting control system. This allows you total flexibility to change the mood of the room completely, at the touch of a button. Systems, such as those offered by lutron, are worth checking out.

However, if budget doesn’t allow or you’re not remodelling any time soon, you can achieve a lot by adding a few dimmer switches, some under shelf lights, table lamps at varying heights and dotting around a few candles. 

Something like these Starburst Lights could add a unique twist to your mood lighting.

5. Size of Light Fixture

Mistake - Choosing the wrong size completely.

A tiny chandelier over a huge dining table or an oversized table lamp on a narrow side table and the whole area will look odd.

There are some great guides here from Wayfair and The Spruce to help you out.

So here's what to do next...

When the light fades outside, grab yourself a pad and pen and take a critical walk through the rooms inside your home. It's time to audit your lighting.

Ask yourself some questions and make lots of notes.

What do you see?

What do you like? What's working well?

What don't you like? Where could you improve?

What are the easy fixes?

What solutions might need a bit more investment in time and budget?

From there you can put together a plan so that your painstaking decorating efforts are not utterly spoiled by poor lighting choices.

Let's talk!

What crimes against lighting are your biggest bugbear? I'd love to know your thoughts. 

What solutions did you come up with to improve the ambience in your room? We'd all love to know!

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments sections below.

Let's keep in touch! 

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Written by Lynn McMurray
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