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The bright stuff: a guide to interior lighting

Ceiling pendants and floor lamps, dimmable LEDs and coloured bulbs… Nothing changes the mood of a room quicker than a new lighting makeover

Lighting up: soft focus, portable and directional, lamps will enhance the ambience of any room

Lighting can be used in many ways to transform and illuminate a home. It’s mood-altering and life-enhancing, and whether you’re looking to cast a cosy glow or light up your living space, it’s often the quickest way to refresh a room without lifting a paint brush. Even a stand-alone floor or table lamp can provide direct pools of light and a welcome glow where it’s needed.

The spherical design of Cult Furniture’s Abel 3 Globe floor lamp not only looks good, but will warmly illuminate the space. If you are balancing out grander fixtures, try more subtle and cosy lighting with directional elements, such as H&M’s gold cylindrical metal table lamp, or opt for the nifty design of the Bover Beddy LED wall lamp with its moulded shelf. It’s great for bedtime reading as you can angle the light wherever it’s needed.

Adding a playful and decorative flourish will also help set the tone. Channel a surrealist feel with unusual bases with Next’s Peacock floor lamp. Glare-free is usually the way to go, especially in a bathroom – nobody wants to highlight the top of their head in a mirror. Place lights evenly on either side instead. The Artemide Dioscuri can be used on the wall or ceiling. In the bedroom choose a warm and relaxing directional LED, or switch on to the current trend for portable USB chargeable lamps, such as the Marset Bicoca, which works well as a bedside light with three dimming settings and an adjustable shade. It’s perfect for picking up and plonking down wherever you are.

On your shopping list: 1. Tripode £518, Santa and Cole 2. Abel £129 Cult Furniture 3. Java £69, Made 4. Peacock £130, Next 5. Ribbon £45, Habitat 6. Cylindrical £35, H&M 7. Marset Dipping £197, Heal’s 8. Hector £150, John Lewis 9. Milano Tripod £66, Maisons du Monde

In the swing: pendants and modern chandeliers can be functional and practical works of art

If you don’t want your dinner lit up like a crime scene, you can shun LED ceiling spotlights above dining tables and turn on to designs such as the Secto Octo pendant. Handmade in Finland from sustainably sourced birch, it hangs as a trio over your table and will transform a flat, lifeless space into a calming dining den. Or choose a metallic finish, such as brass and copper. The long shimmering Bolha pendants from Heal’s will add some glam and help differentiate the dining space from the work zones.

Practical considerations often dictate feature lighting – oversize pendants and sculptural chandeliers demand high ceilings to avoid bumping your head. Jonathan Adler’s extraterrestrial Electrum Kinetic chandelier is guaranteed to turn heads wherever it hangs. But just because your ceiling is low doesn’t mean you can’t go for illuminations with impact. The Kolding Ball Cluster from BHS or Le Klint’s 161 pendant will cast a light through the geometric folds of the shade.

With advances in materials and technology, designers are now exploring more possibilities in lighting as art, with the bonus that the pendant looks as good when the lights are turned off. Ethereal glowing orbs, tubes and rings, often linked together like giant minimalist jewellery, softly diffuse light, with no obvious source, adapting to all rooms and styles of interior. Lee Broom’s Orion is a beautiful example. Each piece can be personalised to create bespoke constellations of light with infinite adaptations.

A less expensive but still luxe-looking option is Made’s Remi Pendant with its clouded opal white glass in a brushed brass ring.

On your shopping list: 1. Kolding £180, BHS 2. Orion £850, Lee Broom 3. Otton £130, Habitat 4. Scribble £199, Heal’s 5. Droplets £525, John Lewis 6. Romy £85, John Lewis 7. Octo 4240 £530, Secto Octo 8. Model 161 £296, Le Klint 9. Electrum Kinetic £1,095, Jonathan Adler 10. Bolha £299, Heal’s

Light bulb moments: the main types of bulbs and how to choose

1. There are three main categories of regular light bulb available: CFLs (compact fluorescent lamp – the energy-efficient alternative to the defunct incandescent bulbs), halogens and LEDs.

2. CFLs typically use 60-80% less energy than an incandescent bulb, halogens 20-30% less and LEDs an astonishing 70-90% less.

3. Don’t be put off by the cost of some LED bulbs, as they can last for more than 10 years, which means you’ll save money in reduced replacement as well as noticing your energy bills dropping, too. Don’t rule out cheap LEDs. Ikea’s Ryet uses about 85% less energy than a regular bulb and lasts up to 15,000 hours, all for just £1.

4. LEDs really are the lights of the future: Philips’ Hue White and Colour Ambience bulbs are smart LEDs that will radiate different colours and change in hue as they respond to the sound of your voice.

5. Get the right bulb brightness by comparing lumens instead of watts. The higher the lumens, the brighter the bulb. If you need help with conversion: 450 lumens = 40 watts; 1,000 lumens = 75 watts; 2,600 lumens = 150 watts.

6. Choose the right shape of bulb, as each one provides a different spread and angle of light. Also consider how the bulbs will look when they are switched off.

The way to glow: why we need to talk about Kelvins when it comes to warm LEDs

Gone are the days where the cold white light of LEDs meant your room was lit up like a surgery. Thanks to the new breed of coloured and dimmable energy-saving bulbs, you can now achieve a warm, welcoming glow at home.

“Lots of LEDs are now mimicking the filament style of the incandescent bulb,” says Clare Griffin, the lighting buyer at Habitat. “Manufacturers are also making decorative and coloured bulbs to help create that soft glow.”

If you’re not already up on your Kelvins (K), it’s the scale with which we now measure light colour or “colour temperature” – the lower the number, the more warmth and yellowness there is to the light.

To recreate the cosy glow of an old-fashioned bulb, choose an LED light with around 2,700K, such as the Celestia Opal LED (£39.99, Dowsing & Reynolds). LEDs around 3,000K are good for task lighting in kitchens and bathrooms, but avoid anything over 4,000K, which is a dazzling white.

Dimmable LED-filament bulbs produce a warm white light – try the Porcelain II (£25, Tala). Also see the Calex LED Globe (£20, John Lewis) with its curly filament and gold finish.

For a retro look, opt for the dimmable LED Teardrop (£20, Buster & Punch), which has an amber glow. Davey Lighting’s classic squirrel cage LED bulb, is also dimmable (£15, Hoxton Lights).

Coloured glass LED bulbs like Made’s range in brass and smoked glass also come with dimmable options and are great for a quick lighting refresh. The Emerald Green E27 (£30) outputs 2,200K.

Many integrated LED lighting products now use warm white LEDs and a white diffuser to soften the light, such as Habitat’s three head brushed brass and metal LED Hadley Floor lamp (£120).

As LED technology has advanced, many products now come with a function to “tune” the colour temperature, such as Philips Wawel Tunable LED Flush ceiling light, (£44.99, John Lewis). You can choose between three stages of warm white to cool daylight, without needing a dimmer switch.

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