Expert advice - planning a lighting scheme

A well thought through lighting scheme can make a huge difference to the finished look of your home. However, often the lighting scheme is one of the last things considered and not given much thought until the builder asks how many spotlights in the kitchen you would like! 

So whether you are planning the lighting yourself or if you are fortunate enough to work with a lighting designer, Jo Mann from Light House Designs shares some advice.

Kitchen lighting plan by Light House Designs

When in my renovation should I consider the lighting plan?

The sooner the better! All aspects of a room/house will be taken into account when designing the scheme, so it is best to do it at an early stage when you can add/omit/adjust areas without it being a costly exercise. 

An example of this might be the addition of a niche in a stud wall, a coffered ceiling or changing the string on the stair case to allow for step lights. It is important to agree the architectural details, where the light fitting needs to be concealed prior to building work being carried out in those areas. However, it is a balancing act as you will need to know where your furniture is going to enable you to carry out the design.


Bathroom lighting by Light House Designs

With open plan living so popular, do you have any advice with the lighting to make it feel homely?

Using layers of light is a good way to create an interesting, homely feel to a space. Consider the following:


  • High-level - Recessed directional downlights, pendant or uplight above joinery
  • Mid-level – Wall lights, table lamps, under counter lighting, joinery lighting
  • Low-level – Floor recessed uplights, joinery or step lights

Split the circuits so you can control individual areas and think about using a simple control system if you end up with more than 4 circuits. 

Often open plan areas have large glass doors/windows leading onto a terrace or garden, remember to think about external lighting to avoid the glass becoming a ‘mirror’ at night time. The external light will draw your eye through the reflection and beyond, giving you another room.

Lounge lighting plan by Light House Designs

Do you have any advice for what works best in the bathroom?

Bathrooms require two types of lighting, bright/functional and also a relaxing setting. 

For mirror lighting, use a downlight for punch, make sure it is set in front of you, and two wall lights either side of the mirror to counter act the shadows created from above.

Think about adding one or two low level lights which can be used for the relaxing setting and also for a night light if you need the loo in the middle of the night and do not wish to turn all the lights on.

Setting downlights close to the wall in a shower (150-175mm away) can look more interesting as the light will skim down the tiles but make sure the plaster/grout is neat!

Add a niche by a bath or in a shower and light it with either an IP rated downlight or IP rated LED Tape. Not only is a niche useful for holding shampoo bottles/decorative objects but can also provide some soft mid-level lighting to the room.

Bathroom lighting by Light House Designs

What's the best way to make dark spaces warm, particularly when there is no natural light?

Using reflected light is most sympathetic in dark spaces, particularly basements. As the light hits a surface (wall or ceiling) and is reflected back into the space it has lost its ability to create shadows, the result is softer than that which comes out of the ceiling and hits the floor. It will also make the space feel bigger and more welcoming.

Creating hidden walls of lights, such as a ceiling slot running along a wall then concealing LED tape to wash light down the wall provides a second dimension given the illusion of a larger space.

New rooms with no natural light can often feel more contemporary than the rest of the house, adding decorative lighting such as wall lights and table lamps can make a room feel more inviting and warm, as well as helping connect the space with the rest of the home.

Are there any popular lighting trends at the moment?

We base our designs on the style of the house and individual client therefore it comes down to whatever is appropriate for that particular project.

Bathroom lighting by Light House Designs

Are there any new technologies that can help with the lighting in my home?

Good quality dedicated LED light engines/fittings – it is so important to purchase the right fitting. The ‘cheaper’ versions may look the same but the internal electronics are so important when it comes to output, colour rendition, dimming quality and longevity.

Who would I work with to pull together a lighting scheme?

A successful lighting scheme requires coordination between the design team and the contractors to implement the requirements at the necessary stages of the build.  

Do you have any other tips for anyone doing their own lighting plan?

Use a dimmer! It is the easiest way of introducing different moods, even with the simplest of schemes.


Published: February 14, 2019

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