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Design Ideas

We all accept the practical importance of lighting, but we must appreciate its creative potential. Good lighting can make the difference between a dull, bland room and one that is sparkling with life.

The most important element of good lighting is the quality of light; its colour, direction, and intensity. Your aim when lighting your home, should be to use light to enhance your surroundings, generate the correct lighting levels for the tasks performed, create the correct mood for each area, and above all appreciate the important contribution that lighting can make to your home.


  • A light source creates a pool of light, but it also has a secondary effect, which is produced when the light reflects off surfaces. Consider the lighting effect that you are trying to create, bearing in mind the surfaces in the area. Light hitting a highly polished light coloured material will reflect light back very well, whilst light directed to a matt dark surface will be almost totally absorbed.
  • Therefore if you are lighting a room that has dark matt painted walls and dark furnishings and carpet, you will need to add more light to achieve a well illuminated space, likewise a room with high gloss light coloured paint, will require less light to illuminate the same space, due to the reflective capabilities.
  • You can create atmosphere in a room by combining types of light, use direct lighting for reading, highlighters to create pools of light to accent pictures or art work and occasional lighting to create cosy areas within the room.
  • When choosing the type of light you wish to use, it is necessary to know what type of light is emitted from what lamps.
  • Tungsten lighting produces a warm comfortable light, which is ideal for areas to relax in.
  • Halogen lighting produces a much whiter crisp light, closer to sunlight, which is especially ideal for kitchens and bathrooms, but can be used in all areas. Halogen lamps also show up true colours, which make them ideal for artwork, craft and reading tasks.
  • Low voltage halogen lighting in the dichroic form, produces 30% more light than the mains voltage equivalent and produces a nicer, warmer, ambience of light. When there is an option choose low voltage for performance and ambience.  
  • Fluorescent lighting can be whiter than tungsten, but not as white or crisp as halogen, but fluorescent light, unlike tungsten and halogen, starts to deteriorate in colour and brightness from the first day of it’s operation. If you want fluorescent lighting for a particular application and you want whiter than white, try to obtain white tubes with a high phosphorous content.
  • LED lighting can be used for guide lighting, marker lighting, or feature lighting. LED technology is moving fast, but their general levels of illumination are low compared to other light sources.


How much light do you need?

  • We all require different levels of light to perform different tasks in the home.
  • Determining the correct light level is not an easy task, but if you use a simple  “Rule of Thumb” calculation, it is possible to arrive at a figure that can be used as a guide.
  • Measure the area of your room in square metres and multiply this figure by; 25 for standard tungsten lighting, 15 for halogen lighting, or 19 for compact fluorescent lighting.
  • Example for a Living Room
  • If your room measures 26 square metres and you wish to use tungsten lighting, you would require a total wattage of 650wts; you can achieve this by using:

2 x 3 light ceiling fittings with 60wt bulbs              =   360wts

2 x 2 light wall brackets with 60wt bulbs               =   240wts

1 x table lamp with 60wt bulb                                 =    60wts

Generating a total of:                                                =    660wts


For Halogen lighting you would use the same calculation, but use the figure 15 as your multiplier.


The above can be used as a guide, but some people require more light and some less, it is often better to over estimate the amount of light required by up to 25% and fit a dimmer to give you the most flexibility.



  • All tungsten and most halogen (low voltage or mains voltage) domestic light fittings can be dimmed with the correct dimmer.
  • A Dimmer unit has to be compatible with: The total wattage and type of lamps that it has to control. If you exceed the maximum wattage capacity, the dimmer will fail.
  • All Dimmers have a maximum wattage capacity and a comfortable working range of minimum to maximum, which varies amongst manufacturers. It is important to select the correct dimmer for the task.
  • The Dimmer must to compatible to the electrical components of the light fitting.


What Type of Dimmer to use

  • For normal tungsten Lighting: Use a Resistive Dimmer
  • For mains voltage halogen lighting: Use a Resistive Dimmer, (but read the Dimmer manufacturer’s instruction leaflet, some manufacturers state that: When using their dimmers with mains voltage halogen lamps, you will need to down rate the maximum wattage capacity of their dimmer by a certain percentage).
  • For Low voltage lighting with a Leading Edge Electronic Transformer: Use a Leading Edge Resistive Dimmer.
  • For Low voltage lighting with a Trailing Edge Electronic Transformer: Use a Trailing Edge / Phase Lagging Resistive Dimmer.
  • For Low Voltage lighting with a Wire Wound Transformer: Use an Inductive Dimmer.     
  • All Dimmers will produce some buzzing noise, either at the dimmer or at the light fitting, this is usual, but should not be audible so as to cause annoyance to someone with a normal quality of hearing.
  • If the correct dimmer has been installed and you experience a resonating noise from the light fitting, one should first check to ensure that the fitting has been securely mounted to the ceiling or wall and that there are no loose components on the light fitting, such as loose glass shades, as the resonance will cause these to vibrate.
  • Excessive noise and / or pulsations indicate a non compatible dimmer.
  • Beware of Dimmers claiming to be suitable for all types of lighting


Lighting your Home

  • Use separate switching circuits in all rooms, where you can, to enable you to separate different types of lighting, levels of light and zones within a room, to obtain maximum comfort and diversity of light for your lighting scenes.
  • Example for a Living Room
  • Use a four-gang lighting switch on the wall to control:

1. Central ceiling light; main source of illumination.

2. Uplighter wall lights; mood lighting.

3. Table and Floor lamps; occasional lighting. (Using a 5amp plug and   socket circuit).

4. Recessed Floor lamps; feature lighting.



  • Your hallway is the first introduction to the rest of your home; you should use this space as a taste of what is to come.
  • Pay special attention to the lighting in the hallway. Use spotlights to accent pictures, install a fitting that commands presence and provides good illumination.
  • The hall light is the first light that your visitors see and it doubles as your welcome light, it should make the Hallway warm and inviting.
  • If you are going for the minimal “look”, with recessed lighting in the ceiling, consider recessed lighting in the wall near to the floor to provide feature or supplementary lighting.

Position rectangular (longitudinal) recessed lights in the wall approximately 200mm above the floor level for a good effect.



  • For a long narrow dark corridor use recessed lighting in the walls to great effect, by creating a tunnel of light

Use a particular type of recessed light unit, (they are usually square or rectangular) that has a built in reflector; capable of scooping the light up and out and using the same fitting, scooping the light down and out, by simply rotating the fitting through 180 degrees. (The fitting must be suitable for this installation; i.e., heat up or heat down).


Position a pair of lights in the wall, one near the ceiling, scooping the light up and the other directly below near the floor, scooping the light down, now repeat the positioning directly opposite on the opposing wall. You now have the basis for the tunnel of light, by repeating the process down the corridor.


For this type of installation the best effects are achieved by using halogen light sources.


Landing and Stairs

  • If you can view the first floor light from the hallway use a matching or co-ordinated fitting on the first floor.
  • The Light on the Landing usually provides the illumination for the stairs. For safety reasons the stairs should be well lit, with the light defining the edges of the steps.
  • Some households leave the Landing light on, all night long, in these circumstances you may wish to consider using a low energy lamp. 
  • When considering your choice of ceiling and wall lights for the hallway and stairs, consider what you see of the light fittings, as you descend the stairs. Halogen Uplighters are great, but we do not want to see inside one on the way down the stairs.



  • Use recessed lighting in the wall adjacent to a staircase as a feature and guide light.

Small round LED lights are most suitable for this type of application.

Position the lights in the wall, on a line midway between each stair nosing.



  • The kitchen requires a higher level of illumination to avoid accidents.
  • Halogen recessed lights are particularly suited to the kitchen, as they provide a clean crisp white light without creating glare. Positioning is very important to achieve an overall level of illumination.
  • Downlighters should be used to provide general illumination.
  • Low voltage recessed lighting performs better than mains voltage recessed lighting, in terms of ambience of light, generation of light, life span of the lamp and efficiency of running costs. (Based on a like for like basis; 50wt Dichroic versus 50wt Gu10).
  • Recessed ceiling lighting (low voltage in particular) can dramatically change the feel of a room.
  • When you replace a central light fitting with recessed lighting, there is no longer a central nucleus of light, but multiple lamps positioned closer to the perimeter of the room, spreading the light out to the perimeter walls and thus opening up the brightness of the room and giving the effect of a more expansive room. This is also helped by the fact that there is no longer a surface mounted, or hanging fitting in the middle of the ceiling – the ceiling is now flat and expansive, also great for narrow corridors, small bathrooms and the like.
  • By using recessed ceiling lighting correctly, you can give any room the Wow factor, whether it be modern or traditional, no matter how nice the room is, you can improve it, with the correct lighting.
  • The considerations for that Wow factor on recessed lighting are: installation of the correct type of recessed fittings, the position and number of them and the lamp wattage and beam angle.      
  • If your ceiling is artexed, smooth out and remove the area of artex behind the fascia of the recessed unit, otherwise you may get unwanted light spill from behind the recessed unit. 
  • Working out how many recessed ceiling lights you require, without having any technical information to hand, you can use the following “Rule of Thumb”:
  • Example for a kitchen
  • Draw out a plan view of a simple rectangular room (forget about doors and windows), now draw in a perimeter line equidistance from all walls, this perimeter line would be 600mm from all walls (the depth of your floor cupboards).
  • This perimeter line represents a line on the ceiling of where you position the recessed lights. Position one light at each of the four corners of the perimeter line, now work out the position of the other lights by spacing them at intervals of 900mm to 1200mm approx.
  • This system works well for good illumination, using 50wt medium beam low voltage lamps, for room widths up to about 4.3m with light coloured painted walls, without causing a dark area in the middle of the room.
  • Obviously you can amend the spacing to suit your particular needs, but the 600mm (or the depth of your floor cupboard) spacing is important, to ensure, that when you are working on the counter top, you are not standing in your own light.
  • This “Rule of Thumb” can be modified and used in the other rooms of your home. 
  • Use only good quality transformers and lamps, for good performance and reliability.
  • Other suitable lighting for the kitchen ceiling would include; spotlights, track lighting, cable lighting and other halogen light sources, such as flush and semi flush fittings and pendants, but where tasks are to be performed, you should also install under cupboard lights to create light in front of you, as you will be working in your own light.
  • If you eat in the kitchen install a pendant light over the table to create a cosier atmosphere.


Living Room

  • The living room is where we spend most of our time and care should be taken when deciding what lighting to use.
  • Use a combination of lighting: Wall washers to the perimeter of the room to create drama, occasional lighting to frame seating areas.
  • If your living room is small in length and you find you have two ceiling points, relatively close together, say within 2.5m of each other, you may consider changing the two points to one central point, as one 5 light multi arm fitting could be more suitable than two 3 light multi arm fittings close together. The single 5 light fitting would also be more of a feature.
  • If your walls are not papered but painted, consider using wall uplighters to create feature and mood lighting.
  • Uplighters (the true definition) are designed to throw all their light upwards only (unless they have small windows or apertures in them), The light then hits the ceiling, which hopefully is white in colour and then the light is reflected back down creating mood effect lighting.
  • The amount of light created from an uplighter will be less than that created by a glass wall light, using the same bulb.
  • In the main, there are two types of wall uplighters, those that you paint to match your walls and those that already have a decorative finish. The ones you can paint are usually of unglazed ceramic or reinforced plaster construction.
  • The paintable wall uplighters should also be considered as a wall light option, when you have many wall lights in one room, relative to it’s size; too many decorative wall lights may dominate the room. This paintable type of uplighter is excellent to use in this type of application.
  • The uplighter once on the wall and painted the same colour as the wall, then blends into the wall and is no longer a feature, but the light from the uplighter will be the feature.
  • You can use these “blend to the wall” uplighters, without clashing, with most styles of ceiling light, leaving the ceiling fitting as a feature, as it is not replicated on the walls.
  • “ Blend to the wall” lighting is also great for minimal décor themes.
  • Use separate switching for the ceiling fittings and uplighter lighting, as they generate different lighting levels and effects.
  • Consider using small canister uplighters on the floor, behind a chair or plant, to create a pool of light and add interest. Not to be used where there are small children or pets – the lamps get hot.
  • Consider using a floor standing uplighter in the corner to create extra light and atmosphere, most of them have halogen light sources and are dimmable; some of them have task lamps attached for reading.  
  • The use of a dimmer is ideal for the living room, as you can create your own atmosphere for different times and events.
  • It is also useful to introduce a 5 amp circuit of plug sockets operated from a lighting switch, (this will enable you to switch your occasional lamps on from a light switch on the wall, when you enter the room, rather than go around the room switching each lamp on individually).


Dining Room

  • The dining room: Modern ceilings being low, this is often the one room in the home, where you can hang a light fitting low over the dining table. The ideal height is approximately 90cm above the table. If you have a glass dining table do not use a fitting that has a naked bulb, as this will create a reflection.
  • Consider the shape of your dining table; for a round table use a round fitting, for an oval or rectangular table, use a fitting to mirror the shape, or suspend three or four single pendants over the table to create interest.
  • If your walls are painted consider “ blend to the wall” uplighters (mentioned above in Living Room) for a nice subtle, mood light whilst you are dining.
  • Consider the use of a dimmer in the dining room, to create the different levels of lighting required.



  • The Study requires a contrast of light, good overall general illumination, usually from overhead halogen lighting and a task lamp, table or floor mounted, to cast light on the work in progress. This is needed because you would most likely be working at the desk, in your own light.
  • The task light should have a directional light source (like a spotlight) so you can aim the light directly on the your work. Halogen lighting is best for this sort of task lamp.
  • If you have a computer screen try to ensure that the light you are providing does not reflect off the screen into your eyes.



  • The Bedroom can require different levels and types of light. Occasional bed side table lamps for a low level mood setting, a central overhead light source for general illumination, Spotlights trained at the wardrobe interiors, subject lighting around a make up mirror and bed side lighting suitable for reading.
  • As our summers are getting warmer, more and more people are installing ceiling fans in their bedroom. This takes the place of the central overhead light and can be combined with a light kit, to provide the central light source. If you do install a bedroom fan, we recommend a Remote Control, this will enable you to control the fan speeds and most importantly; turn the lights on and off from the comfort of your bed.
  • Mirror lighting; this can be from a light source behind the mirror, or from an independent light source above, or either side of the mirror. The lighting has to be directed on you and not on the mirror. Halogen is an excellent light source for this application and it shows up true colours.
  • For reading; bed side reading lamps can be table or wall mounted and need to fulfil the function of a task lamp, at best they would need to be directional and swing arm, and here you would need to define your priorities, between the aesthetics of mood setting occasional table lamps, or wall lighting and the requirement for lighting that is more function orientated for reading.



  • A good central light is needed for general illumination; try to use normal tungsten lighting for a warmer light with the use of a dimmer.
  • You can consider LED lighting as a supplement in a nursery, to provide low level lighting that you can leave on during the night, being low illumination and low cost. Use the colour blue for this application; it will create a serene lighting effect.



  • Safety is paramount: The type of lighting you can legally install in a bathroom is denoted by it’s IP rating and position of the light fitting relative to the proximity of water. See our article under the Main Menu heading; Bathroom Lighting: Useful Information.
  • Bathroom lighting needs to be functional and well planned with safety in mind.
  • Use a surface mounted halogen light fitting, or for maximum impact and spread of light, use recessed low voltage halogen lighting in the ceiling.
  • Mirror lighting; this can be from a light source behind the mirror, or from an independent light source above, or either side of the mirror. The lighting has to be directed on you and not on the mirror. Halogen is an excellent light source for this application.
  • Use LED lighting recessed into the floor to provide feature and guide lighting.
  • Consider LED lighting recessed into the walls to create mood lighting whilst you are reposing in the bath.
  • Rather than have a Pull switch in the bathroom, why not have a three-gang wall mounted switch outside the bathroom entrance to control your ceiling, mirror and floor lighting.



  • Safety is paramount: The type of lighting you can legally install in a wetroom is denoted by it’s IP rating and position of the light fitting relative to the proximity of water. See our article under the Main Menu heading; Bathroom Lighting: Useful Information.
  • Wetroom lighting needs to be functional and well planned with safety in mind.
  • Use a surface mounted halogen light fitting, or for maximum impact and spread of light, use recessed low voltage halogen lighting in the ceiling.
  • Mirror lighting; this can be from a light source behind the mirror, or from an independent light source above, or either side of the mirror. The lighting has to be directed on you and not on the mirror. Halogen is an excellent light source for this application.
  • Use LED lighting Recessed into the wall, to mark a vertical dividing line of the shower area from the rest of the wetroom.
  • Use LED lighting recessed into the floor to provide feature and guide lighting
  • Rather than have a Pull switch in the wetroom, why not have a three-gang wall mounted switch outside the wetroom entrance to control your ceiling, mirror and floor lighting.



  • The conservatory is the most difficult room to light, because it affords few if any reflective surfaces. The ceiling is usually translucent, most walls are glass and sometimes the back wall is a feature brick wall with no reflective properties at all.
  • You need to consider the use of the room and the type of room you are creating. Is it a relaxing Garden room, a room in which you will dine and do you need good lighting for reading?
  • A ceiling fan requirement may well utilise the only ceiling lighting point, if this is the case, then use a ceiling fan with added light kit for your central illumination. Use a halogen light source for maximum light output and choose a light kit that gives general illumination, rather than spotlight illumination. See our article under the Main Menu heading: Fans: Useful Information for choosing the size of the fan and for the Drop Rod accessories you may need for a conservatory installation.
  • If the ceiling lighting point is vacant, use it to good advantage, install a multi lamp halogen pendant of high overall maximum wattage, or a multi arm tungsten pendant, remember here you may have a considerable ceiling height available to install a multi arm, two or three tier light fitting, for maximum light and presence.
  • If it is a garden room, you may wish to go with patinated finishes, such as; browns, or bronze and gold, or cream and gold rather than plain metal finishes.
  • For the wall lighting, use wall lights that give general illumination, rather than uplighters, look for a wall light of high maximum wattage to give you the light output you require.
  • Occasional table lamps and / or floor lamps may be required to add extra light, but these can be considered once the other lighting is in place, to enable you to gauge your extra requirements, if any.         



Entrance to Driveway

  • Consider using LED lighting here to mark the entrance to your driveway.
  • Use Led Brick Lights to replace a brick in the wall either side of the entrance.
  • Position LED lighting on gateposts.
  • Position recessed Drive Over units to mark the edges and path of the drive.



  • Consider the type and levels of light you need around the exterior of your home and the areas you need to highlight for aesthetic, visual or security reasons. You will also need to consider the lamp source for level of illumination and efficiency of running costs, for any lamps that are left switched on during the night.
  • For lamps that are left on for a long duration, use low energy fluorescent lighting, and for flood lighting and accent lighting use halogen light sources



  • Use lighting here to great visual effect, by highlighting areas of shrubbery, borders to flower beds and accents to individual trees and plants of interest.
  • Use spotlights and ground buried lights to theme the lighting, using colours to add interest and make your garden come alive. Enjoy your garden not only in the day, but also at night.
  • Ground Buried lighting requires drainage. For good drainage practise it is important to dig out an adequate area much deeper and wider than the volume of the Ground Buried unit itself. Place the Ground Buried unit in position and backfill with Pea Gravel for drainage, otherwise without adequate drainage; the unit will probably collect water. Unless it has an IP rating which; defines it as submersible.



  • Use surface mounted or Ground Buried lighting here to add interest and define the outline, or mark out particular areas of the patio.



  • Use surface or recessed LED lighting here to add interest and define the outline, or mark out particular areas of the decking platform.



  • Use submersible LED lighting in the pond to add colour and to bring life to this area of your garden.

We recommend that all Bathroom Lighting, Wetroom Lighting and Outdoor Lighting be protected with a residual current devise (R.C.D.).

All of the above information is intended as a guide only and you should consider all of the elements of your particular choice of product and it’s installation, before you commit an electrician to carry out any work.

Copyright: Gabrielli 2014 ©