Subtle though it may seem, lighting has the ability to make or break a home build or renovation. From an energy use perspective, the right lighting can save a small fortune, whilst an incorrect lighting choice may see money run out the door. Lighting and light fittings are decorative features that enhance a home’s style; they can be the sparkle that draws you in the moment you walk through the doorway. Yet sometimes lights are overlooked in the overall budget, or they are the emergency after-thought at the end of the build, which is a paradox given the impact they can have.
Michelle Gontier from Liquid Lighting has for years supplied products and advised clients on how to get the most from their home lighting, both in terms of design and cost savings. We shone the spotlight on Michelle and share some of her invaluable advice with you so you can start planning early to ensure you budget the right lighting for your dressing your home…
Why is home lighting so important?
Lighting in the home does so much more than simply illuminate a room or an area. It has the ability to enhance a visual perspectives so that, for example, a small room appears larger than it actually is. Lighting is also ambient – by literally flicking a switch, a mood can be influenced or indeed an emotion can be evoked. Another great feature of lighting is its ability to enhance a space, so it can complement and highlight other details within the room, such as a delicate marble pattern, an exquisite decorative item.
What should you consider before making a lighting decision for your home?
When we go into client homes to assess their lighting needs, we take into consideration so many potential influences, challenges and considerations.
Some of these include:
- Natural light. What window access does the room have and how much of the room/ home is already lit naturally? Just how intense is that lighting throughout various times of the day?
- The Building Code of Australia sets guidelines relating to achieving energy efficiency, such as the watts per square metre, these have to be adhered to.
- Architectural challenges. For example – cathedral ceilings are something we encounter fairly regularly and they present specific lighting challenges.
- The direction the building is facing and its geographic location. For example a home in Melbourne, where winter lasts for a longer time and daylight is shorter, will have very different lighting needs to a home in Cairns.
How do we know what lighting we need?
Speaking to your lighting retailer is a really good place to start. It’s our job to know the very latest lighting technologies, designs and solutions. With the market always changing so fast, a reputable lighting retailer will be abreast of the most current options and ideas available to you. Another good idea is to walk through your space, all the while asking yourself what you do in each room and therefore what do you need to see? For example, do you read quite a bit on a specific lounge chair? Do you love spending time in the kitchen preparing food from an island bench? Do you spend a lot of time working from home and need your office to be well-lit at any point, day or night? Do you really need the hallway flushed with light, or will something more subdued be just fine? Toilets are another area that can usually afford less lighting. Each space will have different uses and therefore lighting needs will vary, so applying the same lighting design throughout the entire home is usually to be avoided.
What are the latest lighting trends here in Australia?
The lighting industry moves fast. What was coveted one year will may be superseded by a more innovative, cost effective, design focused product the following year. Energy efficient solutions are increasingly changing lighting options on the market. Right now for instance, LED lighting strips are a popular and beautiful way to apply a wash of light to a wall whilst still keeping costs in check.
If I am building or renovating to a fairly strict budget, what would you recommend in terms of lighting solutions?
Say for example you are planning to convert from halogen downlights to LED; the advice here would be to avoid disappointment and try before you buy – take a light bulb home, use it and see if it will do the job. Be aware there are different brightness light outputs in LED Globe replacements.
If I am building or renovating with a more flexible budget, what would you recommend?
A 10-12 watt LED Lamp with good 700 – 800 Lumens “brightness” output is a reasonable benchmark for those who are building or renovating with a more flexible budget. That said the decision is dependent on celling heights and size of the area.
Are there any common mistakes made when it comes to home lighting?
Light is not a tangible and tactile home feature, yet it really is something you should visualise and sense before you make a purchase. It’s also more difficult to monitor the quality of goods especially the LEDs purchased from overseas via online. If for example you purchase your lighting from a reputable retailer, they can objectively prove that the lights meet the standards required in Australia. They also provide a local presence to handle problems or warranty issues. That said getting online and doing research for all your lighting needs is definitely a way to save time. Traipsing all over the city to find exactly what you’re looking for is not a mistake – but it may not be the way you would prefer to enjoy your time! Purchasing lighting products such as decorative pendants online tends to involve less time however, you need to ensure the product matches your expectations, so research is the key to ensuring the product matches your requirements.
Check out the full lighting range from Liquid Lighting or, pop in and visit Michelle and the team at Liquid Lighting in Moorabbin, Victoria today!
The Team at House Of Home would like to thank Michelle for her time and terrific lighting tips for our readers.