Lighting is a huge part of interiors, both in form and function. There is a plethora of light fittings available, from budget to extortionate, but I have to say that much of it (dare I say – the majority?) is not actually very nice. In the last chapter, we looked at hidden lighting which demonstrated the impact and effect of just the light itself. Today we consider the more tangible aspect of statement lighting and how light fittings can create a stunning design statement as well as offering a practical purpose.
Feature image: Norm 06 shades, £72.00 from Rume
Chapter 3 – statement lighting
Most of the time, statement lighting means pendants so I’m going to concentrate on these for this post. From delicate chandeliers to raw industrial fittings, there’s nothing quite like a ceiling pendant to add a bit of drama to a space. If you’re going to make a statement then make sure you mean it. It should slap you in the face when you walk into the room (in a nice way). Despite its simple design, this classic Vita Living shade certainly holds its own against the bold wallpaper and vibrant upholstery of this dining room. A half hearted attempt simply will not do.
A common mistake that people make is with the size of their pendant fitting. Size matters people! And in this case, bigger is most certainly better. You’d be surprised at how big a ceiling fitting should actually be. Depending on the size of the room, height of the ceiling and style of fitting, you should be looking at no less than a 45-50cm diameter. When you’re looking at it in your hands or on the ground, it will seem quite big. Probably too big. You will be scared and doubt yourself. You will worry it will look stupid. Trust me, it won’t. Once it’s up, it will seem much smaller and if you caved and went for a smaller size, it will suddenly look a bit lost in the space and you will be sad. So let this be a lesson to you not to give in to self doubt.
The truth is, generally speaking, pendant lights do not offer good lighting unless directly over the place you need to be lit such as a dining table or counter top. In this case, a pendant is a wonderful thing. Hang it low to really make the most of it.
You can make a statement with more than one fitting too. A row of smaller pendants also works well over a breakfast bar or long dining table to spread the light and create a feature.
Pendants are usually the go-to option for lighting as the easiest and simplest way to light a room. You can appreciate the logic – it’s up high in the middle of the room with no particular direction, and of course it will provide a sort of general light, but a single pendant will never be sufficient lighting for a room on its own. Fact.
Pendants are more about how they look and creating a point of interest, be it a focal point, introducing colour, or simply something beautiful to draw the eye up and add height to a room. Take this lovely entrance hall with a beautiful pendant emulating a cluster of butterflies. It’s a striking focal point and offers a lovely diffused light but you will notice that subtle recessed spotlights and wall sconces offer more useful light at the mirror and down the stairs to support it. The pendant alone would not be sufficient to effectively light the whole space and the visual impact of the fitting is more significant than its practical purpose.
A room needs areas of light and shade to give it a sense of dimension and structure. Light should be used to highlight the areas you want to accentuate and if you just have a pendant, you’ll just have a single pool of light (probably on the floor in the middle of the room) and dingy corners. It’s no good for creating a mood or providing any useful task lighting as, invariably, the light will either be too far away or you’ll have your back to it.
In order to complete your design scheme, you will need different lighting levels to enable you to create different moods and looks in the room as well as making sure all areas are covered by the lighting plan. A kitchen is a good example as you’ll need it bright when in full use with useful task lighting but may want a softer level at other times of the day.
There are no hard and fast rules here. You don’t have to have statement lighting and you don’t have to have a pendant. If you do have statement lighting, it doesn’t have to be a pendant. There are some stunning wall lights and lamps that will serve the purpose very well and this brings on swiftly onto the next chapter – accent and task lighting. Watch this space!
Read on: Chapter 4 – accent lighting