Welcome to the wide and wonderful world of lighting. At this point in history we are lucky in that we have a huge and ever expanding selection of products, fittings and bits and bobs to decorate our homes and workplaces with. The lighting world is no different; there are literally thousands and thousands of different individual lighting options for you to choose from. While choice is great, it can often seem overwhelming to have a thousand great things to choose from and know that you are going to nail the choice.
Lighting is so exciting. While often overlooked by many, lighting can add that x-factor to any space. It can take your dining area from average to sublime. It makes all the different to the mood and feel of a small bar or restaurant. Do you want to give your house or workplace a change without going through a major renovation or redesign? Look up. If all you can see is an evenly spaced collection of down-lights, it’s time for a change.
We’ve put together this guide to help you get on the road to successfully selecting the right lighting to suit your needs. We’re going to do this by question and answer because…well why not.
The first question you need to answer is what do I use this space for? Or what are the main things that will happen in this room?
These questions will help to determine the types, or, combinations of lights that you will need to fill the room that you are looking to light.
As an easy example we will look at the dining room. You will obviously enjoy meals in this room, often with a group of friends or your family. The focal point for these activities will be the dining table. You may also say that you will display a number of precious artworks in this space. This will lead you to the knowledge that you will need the focal point of your lighting to be the dining table but that depending on the size of the room, you may also consider specific lighting to highlight your art.
Or for a bedroom you might say that you will sleep, relax, share intimate experiences with your partner and read. This should tell you that while you will need lighting, for the most part it should be softer more ambient lighting than you would use at the dining table. You will however need to consider how you will provide enough light to read a book when needed.
So, by answering question 1, we then move into question 2. What sort of light do I want or need?
Ambient/general light: Ambient lighting is for those spaces where you just need light but not for any specific purpose or task. Typically this is what you would find in most bedrooms or smaller living spaces. General lighting could be provided by a number of different types of light including pendant lights, down lights or even lamps.
Feature Lighting: This is probably my favorite and is really an offshoot of ambient/general lighting. This is where you are looking for a light that in and of itself is a feature and holds pride of place in the space it occupies. This could be a large chandelier or a cluster of pendant lights. You are looking for the structure and beauty of the light itself, the light it emits is secondary. In this space you are really looking for chandeliers and pendant lighting but lamps are also relevant here too.
Task lighting: This is lighting that you set up with a particular task in mind. For example, hanging a low pendant light next to your bed to provide light for reading or, using wall lights to illuminate your favorite artworks. For every space you are working on, think carefully about what you will using it for and whether you have specific task lighting needs.
Combination: In some spaces you may opt for a combination of task and general lighting. For example you may choose in your kitchen to have task lights over your bench and/or sink backed up by strip lighting around some of your cupboards. Or you could have a large living space with a pendant light or chandelier in the center and down lights directing light specifically at art on the wall. If you go down this road we recommend that you also install a switching arrangement that will allow you to have the task and general lighting on and off independently of each other.
Ok, so you know what sorting of lighting you want but how many lights do you actually need in any given space. This is not a straightforward answer I’m afraid as there are a number of variables that must be taken into account. To get you started on answering this question you need to know;
Once you can answer the above list give us a call at Chic Chandeliers on 1300 85 12 02 or email us at email@example.com and we can provide individual advice on what level of light and what types of light will suit your needs best.
So you’ve decided that you want to go with a chandelier(s) or pendant lighting. Before you rush out and buy, buy, buy, you need to answer an important question. How low can you go?
You need to know how far from your ceiling can the bottom of your desired light sit without braining someone or being completely useless. We refer to this measurement from ceiling to the bottom of the light as “total drop”. While many chandeliers and pendant lights on the market have an adjustable total drop, not all are able to be easily adjusted to fit.
To answer this question, first, work out how high your ceilings are. Second, decide whether there will be a table, bench or other work surface under the light or whether people will need to be able to walk under the light.
Walking height. Using these measurements, even a goofy 6’4 person like me will be able to travel underneath with comfort. If you have any giants in your family, you may want to consider close to ceiling options only. Your aim should be to maintain at least 210cms under your light fittings.
Bench top, dining table or other work area.
Using pendant lights over kitchen benches is hugely popular at present and hanging chandeliers over dining tables is a timeless display of class and sophistication.
To work out your total drop in these situations, work out the height of your table or bench and subtract that from your ceiling height. Split the resulting measurement in half and you have your total drop. This will mean that the bottom of the light will sit evenly between the top of your surface and the ceiling while still enabling people to see each other if sitting on either side.
Ceiling height: 3m
Table height: 1m
3 – 1 = 2m
2/2 = 1m
Total drop = 1m
Close to ceiling: If you have tall people regularly in your space and still want to fit chandeliers, keep in mind that there are close to ceiling options that will still give you a magnificent effect.
Pro tip: There are situations where you can freely ignore all of the above when fitting pendant lighting. Let’s say you plan to fit a pendant light on either side of your bed, in place of bedside lamps. Or maybe you want a low hanging pendant above your work desk or coffee table in your living room. In these situations you can go much lower… how low is really up to you. Just make sure that you don’t need to see through the pendant if you want to have it low.
So, you’ve worked out what your maximum total drop can be. If you are after a chandelier you may also be thinking about “how wide should a chandelier be for the space I have available”.
This is really something that is up to personal taste. The team at Chic Chandeliers tends to lean towards “a bit bigger than you think”. Chandeliers are supposed to stand out, they are supposed to be magnificent and command attention.
Therefore, don’t feel shy about going for a bigger chandelier than you think necessary.
As an example: If your room is 5m square or larger try to go for a chandelier close to 1m in width. If your room is a bit smaller, say 3m x 4m, go for a chandelier around 50 – 60cm in width.
How do I successfully shop for lighting online?
While we could write a complete post on this topic alone (and I think we will) we thought it important to address this in your lighting buyers guide. There is obviously some self interest here but currently over 50% of Australians at some point or another shop online and this trend is increasing. There is no reason why you can’t have a great experience shopping online for lighting and there are some distinct advantages over shopping for lights in retail shops.
Here are some tips to make sure that you are successful online;
So that concludes our lighting buyers guide for now. Do you still have questions? Let us know by dropping a comment below. We plan on expanding this guide over time so ask away and we will add your questions to the guide.
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