Shady business: How to get summer lighting just right

Flamingo Lamps from Graham & Green
8:45am, Thu 20 May 2021
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We may be nearing the height of summer, but a flick of a switch is still a sure-fire way to brighten up a room when needed, and change a space from dull to dazzling.

Whether it’s a quirky table lamp or a feather pendant that’s as ethereal as the blossom on the trees, good lighting evokes a mood and the right beam can be a beautiful thing.

“I think lighting is one of the most important things in a room. You can transform the way a room makes you feel by getting the lighting right. And so often, people get it wrong,” says Lisa Dawson (lisadawsonstyling.com), award-winning interiors blogger and author of new book, Resourceful Living.

So, how can be sure we’re on the right track? We turned to Dawson for some top tips on mastering lighting, and rounded up some of our favourite finds.

(Brent Darby/PA)

“Firstly, overhead lighting should always be on a dimmer. Secondly, when you choose an overhead statement light, it needs to look as good off as it does on, because the likelihood is, it’s not going to be on very much. And the whole idea is to mix the lighting up,” says Dawson.

(Next/PA)

Simple and elegant, the Isla Linear Pendant, £99, Next, is designed with smoke-plated crackle-effect glass shades. All of Next’s ceiling and wall lights are dimmable, plus they supply a range of dimmable bulbs and dimmer switches.

Dawson says she once heard “years ago” that an average room should have eight light sources, which she thinks is a little excessive.

“You wouldn’t be able to move for lights really, but I never have less than four in a room,” Dawson continues. “One in each corner, to make sure each area is lit. Also, when you’re planning out your lighting, think about what you’re going to be using it for.”

(Brent Darby/PA)

Swinging into summer, Dawson says she still puts her lights on as soon as the sun goes down. “Lighting brings the cosiness factor. Low lighting will create a welcome ambience and bring a cosy feel to your space.”

(Sparkle Lighting/PA)

Just the ticket if you’re short on sockets, a battery operated table lamp offers the flexibility to stream and focus light depending on the vibe. Cordless Ribbed Glass Table Lamps, £27.50, Sparkle Lighting.

While you can you achieve a lot in terms of changing the look and feel of a space with soft lighting, pendant style fittings and adjustable spotlights, think about other elements of your styling as the season shifts too. And don’t be afraid to mix things up.

“Some things don’t have to stay the same. Nothing is static, you can change everything around,” suggests Dawson. “Moving into summer, you want light linens and neutrals, so there’s no reason why you can’t do that with your lamp shades as well.

“You may buy a light for one particular room, but if you’re updating or having a change around, it might look just as good in another room, so I often change the shades on my lamps.”

(Graham & Green/PA)

A flash of brass, a pink shade and a funky flamingo can really energise a room. Gold and Silver Flamingo Table Lamps, £148 each, and Leggy Flamingo Table Lamps, £95 each, Graham & Green.

(Loaf/PA)

With our kitchen tables doubling as desks more than ever, spotlights and overhead central lighting is ideal. Particularly popular and of-the-moment, these Powder Pink Coolicon Original Shades, from £125, Loaf, are a 1930s industrial classic, still central to our lives. The dual purpose design allows for ambient lighting above and task lighting below. Job done.

(Graham & Green/PA)

Meanwhile, these statement Aurora White Feather Pendant Shades, from £59, Graham & Green, are available in five sizes and suitable for pendant lighting, table lamps or a floor lamp.

Another way to create interest is to play around with different shapes and sizes in contrasting colours and materials. “You want every room to have a focal point, and varying the lights up and down will make it look interesting,” says Dawson.

“In my sitting room for example, I’ve got a standard lamp, a mid-level lamp, and a lower-level reading lamp. It’s varying it up, giving you a really great lighting effect on different levels.”

(Soho Home/PA)

Bringing the best of both worlds together, this pendant light fitting streams the coastal charm of Soho Beach House, Canouan, while the floor lamp reflects the lighting in Soho House, Hong Kong, resulting in a relaxed, summery vibe.

Soho Home Acorn Pendant, £425 (£361 members), Amara Floor Lamp, £625 (£531 members; other items from a selection), Soho House Interiors Collection from Soho Home.

(Iconic Lights/PA)

At the other end of the spectrum, abstract faces and line drawings are very much in vogue, and this trendy tripod will bring contemporary and monochrome schemes bang up to date. There’s also a co-ordinating pendant shade and floor lamp, to follow Dawson’s tip on varying heights of lighting. Clipper Black And Chrome Tripod Table Lamp with Face Art Reni Shade, £45, Iconic Lights.

(Freemans/PA)

A jewel of a collection, we love Julien Macdonald’s show-stopping crystal light fittings to glam up a bedroom. For maximum impact, place them next to a mirror, which will reflect the light beautifully. Especially an oversized one with a curved shape to add depth and drama to your decor.

STAR by Julien Macdonald Brushed Gold Sophia 2 Layer Crystal Ceiling Light, £179, and Brushed Gold Sophia 2 Layer Crystal Table Lamp £99 (other items from a selection), Freemans.

(Kyle Books/PA)

Resourceful Living: Revamp Your Home With Key Pieces, Vintage Finds And Creative Repurposing by Lisa Dawson is published by Kyle Books, priced £20. Photography by Brent Darby. Available now.

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