Perfect lighting for blissful bathrooms

There can be few things nicer than relaxing with a warm bath or shower at the end of a long day, especially when the weather is cold, dark and damp. Making your bathroom into an oasis of calm will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, which is exactly what we all need at this time of year.

The right bathroom lighting will be hugely beneficial in helping you to create this soothing atmosphere.
An overhead light is a common option in bathrooms and this will provide much of the key illumination for the room; however, the glare of an exposed bulb can be too bright if you would like to create a relaxing ambience. Opt instead for a frosted glass fitting, which are available in a range of styles to suit all types of decor and provide a softer, more diffuse glow.

If you have a suitable-sized bathroom and you want to add a luxurious touch, you might decide to fit a chandelier. These glamorous light fittings are the last word in decadent bathing; however, remember that bathroom lighting must conform to strict safety standards. Only use lights specifically designed for bathrooms and make sure you follow the guidelines regarding the safe zones and the relevant IP ratings. Exposed bulbs near a bath or shower are definitely not a good idea; instead, an enclosed fitting should be used.

You will need some task lighting in the bathroom to help with jobs such as shaving, styling your hair or putting on makeup; however, placing your lighting overhead is not the best way to achieve this, as it will cast shadows in the wrong places. A better option is to install a mirror or mirrored bathroom cabinet with integral lighting. Bulbs placed along either side will give you the best amount of light without casting shadows that obscure your reflection, while using these near a mirrored surface will help to reflect more ambient light around the room. You can also use spotlights in the bathroom to great effect, with tracks or clusters of directional spots angled to give you illumination exactly where you need it.

You can also use lighting in different ways to create atmosphere. The bathroom is the perfect place to experiment with coloured bulbs, such as cool blues for a soothing ambience. Another option is to fit a dimmer switch to your lights; in this way, you can have bright illumination when you need it but can also turn them right down if you want to simply relax in low-level lighting as you bathe for total bathroom bliss.

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Switched-on switches

The lighting switches we use in our homes can all too often be something of an after-thought; however, as they are a feature in every room and are usually situated quite prominently on the wall, it is a good idea to choose light switches that look great.

Clean and contemporary

If you want to give your home a modern look, opt for sleek switches in metals such as brushed steel or chrome. These could feature elaborate and intricate designs or simply be smooth and stylish. For the ultimate in contemporary decor, opt for switches that fit flush to the wall. These are not mounted directly onto the surface; instead, they are slightly inlaid into the wall, giving a glossy state-of-the-art finish to this most humble accessory. You can even fit switches that are mounted with no visible screws to further enhance their appearance.

The contemporary features of these switches are not limited to their design. Many modern switches have high levels of functionality to enhance their use. Fit dimmer switches to your home to allow you to create a range of levels of illumination, perfect if you use a particular space for a variety of purposes. You could even opt for switches that are motion-activated or operate on a timer.

Ornate opulence

At the other end of the design spectrum, lavish light switches can become an integral part of a traditionally-styled decor. These look fabulous with a brass or antique gold finish, especially if the plates have scrolled or scalloped edges. Art deco interiors are complemented by toggle-operated switches, which not only look great but are effortless to use for those who find traditional switches too awkward. For a really retro feel, Bakelite switches mounted on a wooden plate add plenty of charm. These switches are all designed to be decorative features, adding sumptuous interest to your home’s interior and fitting seamlessly with the type of lighting scheme you have chosen.

If you are still hanging on to your old-school light switches in white plastic mounts, be aware that these can look incredibly dated; in addition, the plastic can become discoloured over time due to exposure to light or smoke, leaving them an unattractive yellow shade. Luckily, it is quite easy to swap them for something much more appealing – just remember to switch off the power before you unscrew the facings.

With just a few simple changes, you can ensure your light switches become a stylish part of your decor.

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Instant impact with industrial chic

Contemporary light fixtures are a fantastic way to add an instant boost of eye-catching style to your home. One of the hottest decor trends is industrial chic, which can immediately make a bold statement whilst looking absolutely stunning.

Original idea

Industrial chic, sometimes known as warehouse chic, takes its inspiration from the large warehouses and factories that were so prevalent during the industrial age. The vast buildings were by necessity functional, with their interiors left largely undecorated. Exposed brickwork and beams were common, pipework was clearly visible, and floors were left bare. Any fixtures or fittings were chosen for practicality rather than their ornamental appearance, leading to a style that is elegant in its simplicity.

Contemporary applications

Industrial chic found favour as a style of interior design when developers realised that disused factories and warehouses made excellent accommodation. Converting these old buildings into flats, or sometimes offices, they realised that this stripped-back style was highly desirable. Rather than covering up bare brickwork or the unusual lines created by metal pipework, these architectural oddities could be made into design features.

Getting the look

The industrial look is easy to achieve if you live in a converted warehouse or factory, but works equally well in other types of accommodation. The key is to incorporate lots of metal accessories, combining these with minimal decorating. One of the main advantages is that this style of interior should not look too perfect, with any unfinished bits simply adding to the charm.

Whilst ideally walls will be in part exposed brick, any sections that need to be painted should be neutral tones such as greys, creams and pale blues. You can always add a small splash of brighter colour, perhaps with cushions or a rug, to enhance this palette. Bare concrete flooring may not be a practical option, but wood is a good alternative.

Lighting is a key feature of warehouse chic. Vintage-style pendants with large glass globes look spectacular, particularly those surrounded by metal cagework. These can be hung in rows or clusters over features such as sofas, dining tables or kitchen islands; alternatively, they work effectively as single fixtures. Another option is over-sized bare bulbs, with their iconic shape effortlessly giving a nod to the industrial look.

Industrial chic is one of the most popular design trends and is as stylish as it is versatile. Whether your home’s interior is completely furnished in this style or you simply wish to include a few well-chosen lighting elements, industrial chic will give your home instant appeal.

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Small is beautiful

When it comes to your lighting, bigger is not always better. In some cases, a smaller fixture not only looks better but can also light your space more effectively, especially when used in partnership with other lighting to create a layered effect. Before you instinctively reach for the largest possible light, think about whether this really is your best option.

Smart chandeliers

You might think that chandeliers are only an option if you have a large room with high ceilings to illuminate; however, there are many options that can be used in smaller spaces. Traditional chandeliers with exposed candle bulbs may look a little out of proportion in a very small space but there are plenty of beautiful designs that will work. Look for ones with smaller beads or crystals, as these will give you a lovely shimmering effect without requiring lots of space. Alternatively, contemporary starburst designs give off an appealing halo of light and can often be found on a smaller scale.

Get the height right

Hanging your fixture at the correct height is crucial to ensure the most effective distribution of light. Too low or too high and the light will not be properly diffused, misleading you into thinking you need a larger light. The base of a ceiling pendant or chandelier located over a dining table should be hung at a height of around 1.65m from the floor. This will give a decent amount of light when guests are seated around the table; however, a light in the middle of the room will need to be a little higher to allow clearance above your head when walking underneath it.

Lovely layering

You will get a far better effect if you use several small lights rather than one large one. This applies both to ceiling fixtures and to general room lighting, where a combination of ceiling, wall and lower level task lighting are most useful. Use table and floor lamps to enhance illumination levels without adding more brightness overhead, which is probably not needed. The base of your table light shade should rest at the same height as your shoulders when you are sitting down to allow maximum illumination without an exposed bulb.

You might find that a smaller light can more effectively meet your lighting needs than a large one. Light fittings can often look smaller than they really are in a crowded showroom, so check the dimensions of the light very carefully and make sure it will be the right size. This will ensure the light fitting perfectly complements your interior.

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How to embrace the art of hygge

If you have not already heard of hygge, you soon will. This Scandinavian word, pronounced hoo-ga, is currently to be found in every newspaper and lifestyle magazine. It even made it into the Collins dictionary this year, showing just how important a cultural phenomenon it has become. What does it mean, why do you need it in your home, and how can you use your lighting to embrace the concept?

Hygge is a concept common in Scandinavian countries such as Denmark and Norway and refers to a feeling of cosiness and contentment. Whilst a direct translation is difficult, one of the best ways to describe it is the feeling of listening to the rain and wind howling outside whilst you are tucked up in the warm with a hot drink, happy and relaxed. According to lifestyle experts, finding this elusive sweet spot is beneficial to our wellbeing, particularly in Scandinavian countries where the winters can be very long and dark.

There are many elements that can contribute to achieving this happy state, from drinking sweetly-spiced wine next to a wood burner to curling up under a blanket with a good book. The most important aspect is to create a warm and cosy atmosphere in your home, which is where good lighting comes in.

Central to the tenet of hygge is spending time with friends and family, with food playing a central role. Sharing a meal together is a key feature; therefore, your dining area needs to be as welcoming as possible. The type of lighting you use here needs to be good enough to see your guests but not as bright as you would use in a kitchen. Hang pendants or chandeliers low over the table to create a feeling of intimacy. Small glass globe pendants look particularly good clustered together at different heights for extra impact. Wall lights are far more flattering than overhead downlighters; however, if you do need a ceiling light, fit a dimmer so you can control the brightness level.

Candlelight is another key feature of hygge, but you can create a similar effect with the inclusion of lots of small table lights. Not only will these add lighting layers but also they will increase the cosy ambience. For the very best effect, use bulbs with a low temperature on the Kelvin scale – around 2,700. These give off a diffuse yellowy-orange light that perfectly imitates the warm glow of candlelight, creating that magical effect. Happy hygge!

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