Choosing stylish lighting for your youngsters is child’s play

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of any room’s décor. It not only provides the illumination needed to see in the evenings and dark mornings but also adds atmosphere, giving much-needed ambience to your living and sleeping space and helping to create the right feeling in every room.

Nowhere is this more important, perhaps, than in your children’s bedrooms. Having the right kind of lighting in a child’s room is essential – when they are younger, it helps them to go to bed – and stay there! – while older children need efficient lights to play and do their homework.

You will need to adapt and change your child’s lighting depending on their age, so here is a rough guide to the choices you may want to make.

The nursery

Babies’ rooms need subtle, gentle lighting. Dimmable lights are ideal, enabling you to put low levels of lighting on at night when you need to check on your little one without waking them up with the glare of a lightbulb.

Touch lamps are also a good idea. They are fantastic for nursing babies in the wee small hours without waking up the whole household.

Of course, no one can resist the huge range of adorable character lamps, or those shaped like rocket ships, dragons or animals. There is something for everyone’s taste.

Troublesome toddlers

When your baby has grown a little, and is protesting when put to bed – and don’t they all? – it may be time to adapt their lighting to something a little more ‘grown up’. Getting your toddler to choose their own table lamps or lamp shades as part of a redecoration project may help them to realise that their bedroom is a place specially for them, and help them stay there once it Is bedtime.

There are plenty of lamps and shades based on TV or film characters, and a plethora of fabulous abstract designs in bright colours.

Schooldays

Once your child starts school, you may want to ensure their lighting includes something good enough to do work by. Buying them a desk and chair at a young age – complete with easy-to-use table lamp or spot lamp – will help them to get into the habit of doing homework in the proper setting.

Teens

Once your child reaches their teenage years, they will probably have set ideas about their lighting. Whether this is pretty fairy lights or spotlights to do their makeup by, or colourful and fun LED lighting, your teenager’s lights should reflect their growing personality.

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A light bulb moment: everything you need to know

Light bulbs are one of those household essentials we hardly think about. Until they stop working, plunging us into darkness, they quietly get on with their job, reliably keeping our homes illuminated and providing us with the means to go about our daily business.

Yet light bulbs have had a renaissance in recent years. No longer are our choices limited to the simple, traditional incandescent bulbs of yesteryear, when one of the biggest decisions to make was which wattage to buy.

The old, energy-eating light bulbs have largely been consigned to the dustbin; today, we have a dazzlingly bewildering array of different bulbs to choose from, all marked by their ability to save us energy and, in the long run, money on our energy bills.

A little light lesson

The brightness of the old light bulbs was measured in watts, which is actually a measurement of power, and many people still speak in watts today when considering which bulbs to use.

Today’s energy-saving light bulbs use a lot less power to achieve the same level of brightness as the old, energy-gulping ones, so wattage is no longer an accurate way of measuring how bright a bulb is.

Instead, the newest light bulbs are classified by lumens – the higher the lumens, the brighter the bulb. If you need a brighter light for your reading lamp, for instance, go for one with a higher lumen rating.

Fitting is everything

Naturally, the light bulbs you choose will need to fit the lights you are buying them for; for example, there is no point stocking up on bayonet bulbs when your lights require screw bulbs. Make sure you check your lighting properly before forking out your cash. Be aware that there are two different bayonet sizes, and two screw sizes, so make sure you choose the right ones.

Which bulb is best?

Another thing you need to consider when buying light bulbs is that there is more than one type to choose.

Standard bulbs speak for themselves and are perfectly adequate for most purposes; however, you can also buy halogen and LED bulbs to fit most lighting.

Halogen bulbs use halogen gas to provide the light. They are often more expensive than standard energy-saving bulbs and tend to give a brighter light than the standard version, so they may be good for places in which you need extra light; however, they create more heat than other types of bulb, so would not be suitable for children’s lights, for example.

The most efficient form of lighting, LEDs are longer-lasting and are great for everyday use.

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No window? No problem

In most cases, it is usual to want each room in your home to be lit to its fullest, enabling you to maximise its usage and create a pleasant and airy atmosphere; however, if a lack of windows means there is very little or no natural light in the space, it is crucial to consider how your lighting scheme can be used to counteract these deficiencies. Fortunately, there are a number of tricks and tips you can use to make even the darkest of spaces feel light and welcoming.

Lighting layers

One of the key issues to manage when lighting a windowless space is achieving a good balance of lighting. Without a background level of ambient light, it can be difficult to make sure that the whole area is lit. If one part of the room has very bright lighting, this can throw the rest into shadow and make it appear even darker in comparison.

Spotlights are a great solution for providing targeted light, but it is crucial to make sure they are correctly angled. In addition to illuminating any task areas, spotlights should be used to brighten potentially dark corners and prevent a dimly-lit space becoming dingy. Allowing the beam of each spotlight to overlap just a fraction with the next will make the lighting more evenly distributed. If there is no natural light, it is even more important than usual to have several light sources to create a layered effect. In addition to utilising a combination of ceiling and wall lights, think about areas such as plinths or alcoves where light can be created at different heights.

Daring décor

The illumination of a windowless room is a perfect example of how important it is for your lighting and decorating schemes to work in harmony. Keeping walls pale and with a neutral pattern is well-seasoned advice that certainly holds true; however, if you would prefer to use bright, bold colours, just ensure they are balanced with some light-enhancing accessories. Bringing in lots of mirrors will make the space feel larger and brighter, while picture lights positioned near these will help to reflect a diffuse glow around the room. You could even light an alcove sealed off with a stained-glass pane to create the illusion of a real window.

In some ways, having no windows can be very liberating. There is no need to take existing patterns of shadow into account, leaving you with a completely blank canvas. Embrace the challenge and you will find new and creative ways to illuminate the room.

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Practically perfect pendants

When it comes to lighting, one of the most popular options is the pendant. This kind of ceiling light is easy to use in any room, with virtually all initial lighting installations based around this type of fixture. Although this is a common option, it is certainly not a boring choice. There is such a huge variety of shapes and style available that you are certain to find a pendant to suit your home, whatever your taste.

Sophisticated shapes

Whilst all pendant lights feature a single shade suspended from the ceiling, this is where the similarities end. The shade can be one of an almost infinite number of shapes, each of which can be chosen to complement a different interior.

Pendant fixtures traditionally comprised the classic lampshade design, usually made of fabric. These are still a popular choice with those who appreciate their clean, simple form. A more contemporary twist on this classic design is the drum pendant. The vertical edges of these shades mean they give out more light, with the wider, open top allowing light to be reflected off the ceiling and diffused back into the room. Also popular are globe pendants, featuring either a solid casing or an orb made of intricate metalwork. Lantern pendants are perfect for use outdoors in porches or on patios, adding a touch of classic elegance.

Fabulous finishes

Where pendant lights really come into their own is the huge range of materials they can be made from and the vast array of finishes available. The type of material you opt for will be influenced by the style of decor in the room you intend to illuminate.

Fabric is the classic covering for a pendant shade, which may have briefly gone out of fashion but is now back on trend. This is in part due to its sumptuous feel and in part due to the current passion for all things vintage. Glass is another versatile material that works brilliantly in a range of interiors.

Extravagantly detailed shades such as the Tiffany-style lamps, which incorporate elaborate colourful designs, are ideal for those wishing to bring in an element of classic art nouveau opulence. Coloured, etched or frosted glass give a more contemporary look that makes a bold statement in a modern setting, while materials such as bronze, aluminium and chrome give a pleasing utilitarian feel that works brilliantly with pared down industrial-style designs.

With so many style options to choose from, pendant lighting is the smart choice for virtually any space.

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Get ahead with your winter lighting prep

The summer will soon be distant memory, so now is the perfect time to start thinking about how your home’s lighting will work throughout the winter. This may not be something you have previously considered; however, your lighting requirements throughout the winter months will be quite different to when the days and nights are lighter. Get ahead now to make sure that your home illuminations work effectively to provide the perfect welcoming atmosphere when the darker evenings draw in.

Shadow play

The shorter days and lower sun mean that parts of your home that are adequately lit during the summer may not be so as the seasons change. To combat this, you will need to include some extra lighting. Quick solutions such as adding extra table or floor lamps are easy to implement. You could also consider making some adjustments to your existing fittings, such as replacing any dark shades with paler ones to allow the maximum amount of light to be diffused across the room.

You can also change your lightbulbs for ones with a higher wattage to increase the amount of light emitted. The colour of your bulbs can also have a significant impact. Those with a higher Kelvin rating – between 4,600 and 5,600K – have a slightly blueish tone and are the best for simulating natural daylight conditions; alternatively, choose ones with a lower rating for a warm, cosy and welcoming yellow tone.

Safety first

One of the most unwelcome aspects of winter is having to come home from work and find your way into the house after the sun has set. A motion-activated exterior light will ensure that locating your front door key is less of a chore at the end of a long day. These can be fitted outside the door, in a porch, or on the side of your home to be activated as you park on your drive. Make sure that you also illuminate any walkways or decking to minimise the risk of tripping or slipping, especially as the weather turns snowy or icy.

The very latest smart home lighting systems can be programmed to switch on and off remotely. Ensuring that your lights come on before you get in is not only a key part of home security but will also make your house feel more welcoming on your evening return.

Adding extra lighting and adjusting existing fixtures and fittings will ensure that your home is ready for the darker months with optimum levels of illumination.

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