Essential safety tips for your outdoor lighting

A well-lit outdoor space is an invaluable addition to your home, allowing you to make the most of the space long into the evening. You can also use outdoor lighting to accentuate interesting features in your garden, including ponds, flowerbeds or pagodas; however, it is vital to remember that lighting used outside is exposed to the elements and needs to be handled carefully. Follow these key tips to keep your fittings in good shape and your household safe.

Choose the correct fittings

The lights you use outside must be specifically designed for this purpose and cannot be substituted by ones you would use inside the home. Even those that will be sheltered from direct rain or snow, such as those used inside a shed or under a carport, will be indirectly exposed to higher levels of moisture than interior lights can tolerate. It is essential to opt for fixtures and fittings that are suitable specifically for outdoor use. In the same way that specialist bathroom lights are designated for use in wet areas, outdoor lights feature heavy-duty seals to prevent moisture building up inside and causing a risk of electrocution. The same guidelines apply to your bulbs, which must be specially designed for outdoor use to ensure performance, durability and safety.

Routinely check all cabling

Your outdoor lighting may remain in position all year or may be stowed away during the winter and only brought out during the warmer, lighter months. In either case, it is vital to check that all cabling is maintained to the highest standards. Cords that have been packed away for the winter should be checked for any cracked, burned or melted casings and any frayed wires. This is also the case for your exterior extension cords, which should be fit for purpose.

Position carefully

it is sensible to think about the location of your fixtures to minimise risks. Try to avoid situating them too close to large amounts of water and think about any potentially flammable material nearby, such as wood chippings, which may present a fire risk.

Following these guidelines will ensure your garden lighting looks great and remains risk-free.

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Adding elegance with striking art deco lighting

Of all the lighting styles available, art deco-inspired lamps remain firmly amongst the most popular. First in circulation in the 1920s, the various designs are still as fresh and appealing today. Perfect for a whole range of interior styles, these lights look fantastic in virtually any home.

This style of lighting first emerged almost a century ago and represented a significant move towards the types of interior lighting we use today. Art deco interior design is characterised by its use of geometric shapes and clean lines, with most patterns featuring at least some degree of symmetry. There are strong Egyptian and Eastern influences, which can be seen in both the shapes and colours. Unlike art nouveau, which emerged a few years later and featured lots of stylistic elements echoing themes of nature, art deco is recognisable by its elegant simplicity.

The materials used in art deco lights were novel at the time, but have weathered the decades well and remain popular. Finishes such as chrome or brushed metal were a new and exciting contrast to those used previously, such as copper and brass. The inclusion of frosted glass was also an innovation and could be utilised in a number of interesting ways. Experimentation with acid etching and sandblasting to create unusual patterns resulted in the creation of designs that were unlike anything previously seen.

One of the reasons art deco lighting remains so popular today is that the classic lines and bold techniques not only work perfectly well in period homes but also lend themselves comfortably to more contemporary interiors. Using glass and metal in fixtures as opposed to fabric instantly gives a modern feel, while the sumptuous patterns and sophisticated symmetry are perfect for adding a touch of grandeur to any room.

Art deco ceiling lights are available in range of styles. Rather than featuring numerous crystals, the chandeliers are typically formed by a central glass bowl uplighter suspended from the ceiling. Other options include flush-mounted ceiling uplighters in geometric shapes, such as circles, ovals or squares, often made from patterned glass. Complementary wall lights, especially those featuring multi-faceted panelling, complete the look.

With its simple, luxurious elegance and use of techniques still admired today, it is no surprise that art deco lighting remains one of the most popular choices for home illumination. It is the perfect solution for anyone wishing to add a touch of timeless opulence to any interior.

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Slick statement lighting for outdoor opulence

When the evenings stay lighter for longer, it is great to be able to remain outside until well into the night; however, you will need to install lighting outside to really make the most of this space.

Recent years have seen huge advances in outdoor illumination – the lights used here are no longer simply functional but also beautiful. They can be used in a dramatic way to highlight key features, enhance seating areas, and make your garden an exciting extension of your home’s entertaining space.

If you have a seating area, illuminating this effectively will enable you to use it well after sunset. Floodlighting is a popular option, not least because it is usually motion-activated. The bright illumination is extremely convenient and can double up as security lights; however, there are plenty of other styles to choose from.

For those seeking privacy, sand-blasted glass screens make ideal partitions. You can choose for these to be opaque during the day but feature colour at night, creating an eye-catching display. Another option is to consider lighting your furniture from below, which is particularly effective if you have solid benches or tables built into a steel or concrete base. Bright white or blue lights underneath will create the impression that the furniture is floating for the ultimate in contemporary design statements. Alternatively, choose freestanding polycarbonate lights in contemporary shapes that can be moved around to wherever you most need them.

As dusk falls, it is crucial that you can still safely navigate your way around the outdoor space. Pathways can be lit in a variety of creative ways that not only look great but also provide practical solutions to this requirement. A further advantage here is that many pathway lights are solar powered. Not only does this make them extremely easy to install, with no need for outside cabling, but also they are cheap to run, saving you money on your energy bills. Sticks lights, which can be planted in lawns or flower beds running alongside a path, are a simple option. They are also easy to relocate if you decide to place them elsewhere. Alternatively, you might opt for small solar lights embedded in artificial rocks or LEDs mounted flush into the pathway itself.

There is so much more to outdoor lighting than floodlights, fairy lights or lanterns, so opt for a cutting-edge solution to give your garden some after-dark impact.

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Lighting your stairway the heavenly way

The lighting of your hall, stairs and landing may not be top of your list of key features; however, the illumination you choose for this area can be surprisingly significant. In addition to providing essential lighting to help you safely navigate this space, the fixtures and fittings used here can have an impact on the feeling of flow as you and your visitors move throughout your home. There are a number of different options you can choose from to make the most of this often-neglected space.

Safety first

The primary function of any lighting on the stairs should be to safely illuminate the staircase. In many homes, there is no specific stair lighting; instead, there is simply a pair of ceiling pendants situated in the downstairs hallway and upstairs landing. Whilst this is undoubtedly the easiest option, it is not always the most effective in terms of ensuring optimum illumination. A more beneficial solution could be to opt for a track of spotlights in the hall that can be angled towards the stairs. Fitting a similar feature on your landing will allow light to be angled down the stairs, which will improve visibility. If your staircase turns a corner, it is particularly important to ensure it is sufficiently lit both top and bottom to minimise the danger of tripping. Carefully check where you existing light casts shadows to make sure that each step is safely lit.

Additional feature lights

Due to the sloping nature of the ceiling above the stairs, it is not usually recommended that fixtures are fitted here; however, installing wall lights can be a great idea. Not only do these look most appealing as you walk up or down the stairs but also they provide useful additional light. Choosing fixtures that complement your overhead lighting scheme will enhance the feeling of flow throughout your living space.

Another option that has become increasingly popular is to include additional stair lighting at floor level. This is a contemporary stylish look that can be achieved in a number of different ways. Small individual LED lights, either round or square, look great on alternate steps and are ideal for narrow or curved stairways. A bold look can be achieved with a continuous strip of lights positioned just above a stepped skirting board. For a truly dramatic effect, fit individual downlighters to the base of floating steps so that each casts a pool of light on the stair below.

From simple tracks of directional spotlights to individual stair fittings, the right lighting will enhance the safety and appearance of your staircase.

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Quick tricks for slick lighting

If you want your interior lighting to work effectively, it is worth taking the trouble to think about what fixtures and fittings you want to use and where they should be located. Luckily this is a simple task that you can manage in a short amount of time. With just a little planning and a clear idea of the look you want to achieve, you can ensure your interior lighting scheme works perfectly to meet all your requirements.

A lighting plan

This is a really easy way to see what lighting you already have and where there are potential areas that could benefit from further illumination. Simply draw a plan of the room and all the existing lighting. Add details such as windows or skylights that enhance lighting, and mark the location of all sockets. Consider what the room is used for, and at what time of day, to determine whether you need specific task lighting or additional wall lighting. Planning now will help you to avoid decisions that could be costly or lead to inadequate lighting.

Keep it simple

If you are looking for a fast way to gorgeous interior lighting, you might consider using one style of fixture or fitting throughout your home. This can work especially well in contemporary-styled properties and will give your decor a coordinated, cohesive look. One way to differentiate between spaces is to opt for a clean simple style but in different shades to suit each room’s colour scheme; alternatively, you might decide to choose a variety of styles but all in a similar finish. Mixing and matching can give a dramatic eclectic look; however, if you find a style that you love, utilise it throughout your home. Not only does this save you having to make lots of lighting decisions but also it will enhance the feeling of flow between the various spaces.

Easy fixes

If you are unable to make major changes to your lighting arrangements, there are several quick ways to give your home a fresh new look. Installing dimmer switches instantly allows you to create a range of effects and gain control over the ambience you wish the room to have, while changing the wattage of bulbs can add more illumination or create a softer glow. Fitting coloured bulbs can also make a huge difference with very little effort.

It takes minimal time and effort to pull your lighting together and create a series of impressive unified illuminations that will enhance your home.

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