Role of lighting in interior design projects

For a successful interior project, an architect or an interior designer vastly depend on the implementation of few basic laws that govern space and its usage, lighting principles, direct and indirect color and the type of raw materials; the most fundamental of them all being lighting. A dull boring room can stand out, can be made vibrant and exciting with the right infusion of natural and artificial lighting or at the same time, the same room can be converted in a serene and relaxing place. To understand this play of lighting on architectural and interior design and its effects on your space, you have to go beyond, switches, sockets and bulbs.

While designing any living space, how to use light appropriately is an art as well as science. Before starting a design scheme for a interior project there are two important aspects to look at; first is making the most of day light; natural light is not only known to have a positive effect on your health but can also transform your surroundings. Science has proven that like plants grow towards the direction of the sun, humans are drawn to light as well. The plug-in type of lighting is the second type of lighting that vital. From atmospheric to moody, to light and functional, lighting can change the dynamics of a room in an instant. These principles of light are can be practiced for any typical Goan home or apartment. Lighting has an absolute effect on the perception of color and texture, interiors designers use layering to light up any design project.

Understanding lighting isn’t as complicated as it may seem to be. Before you go off to the store to decide on the lighting options you have to keep be aware about a few things in your home and the point to start at is; daylight. Light is so much more than something that allows you to see. It has a huge impact on our moods and also has an effect on the way we feel. The urban lifestyles we live have made us spend more time indoors, more so in our homes. Subconsciously or not, we are very sensitive to the amount of light the in the environment that surrounds us and this has a significant impact while you plan the decor of any home. Gloomy rooms as an example would be difficult to live in as we have very limited vision in this environment and would generally make one uncomfortable. A well lit environment on the other hand make us much more relaxed, makes us happier, as you can see better, thus making us much more comfortable. In general, the lesser the light the more uncomfortable we get.

Being professional interior decorators in Goa we have designed homes to bring-in maximum daylight, but this will not be the case across all homes as daylight can be a problem for a lot of houses especially in tight urban such as Panjim or Margao, urban area settings tend to be dark and badly lit spaces due to the limitations of space surrounding it. Apartments in high rises where you have a floor shared by many other homes allow for very little natural light access. A front door facing north against another door facing south means that daylight is very feeble and therefore in a setting such as this, maximizing lighting is a must. Before you begin designing the space a  great way to start is to ensure that there is very limited activity– in terms of decor elements going on around the windows in the room to allow the light to come in as uninterrupted as possible. Interior designers recommend a large mirror on the opposite side of the wall facing the window as a point to start with. The idea is to accentuate the daylight coming into the room.

In an urban setting an interior designer has to work with very little open external surrounding space and will not be able to rely on only natural light coming in, as most natural light in urban homes is ambient, which gets bounced or reflected from nearby by buildings, tarmac or grass. Therefore what goes on outside of the rooms has a huge impact on the quality of light coming inside of the room. Keep in mind that the sun’s rays changes throughout the year, giving you seasonal variations, a provision must be made to account for it in the design scheme as well.

Daylight does affect spaces at different times of the year which needs factoring in the space when creating home design styles or decor ideas. As a rule of thumb, a roof light will let twice as more natural light in comparison to a window of the same size. A home decorator should keep in mind that we feel uncomfortable in an environment of high contrast lighting although the human eye can see in a wide range of light levels. At a home space before deciding on how you want the design the room, first learn on how daylight affects a room by watching the way in which the sun moves around. The quality and color of light also varies on where you live. Light will be warmer in hotter areas as compared to overcast cities. Therefore the quality of light in a south facing apartment in parts of Goa which is mostly warm throughout the year would be different in comparison to an south facing apartment in a city like Bangalore which is much more cooler than Goa most year around.

If you are designing a space that gets no direct sunlight in front at all you will have to be very particular on the type of color you choose in scheme. Color palettes such as the oranges, the reds, the browns, the blacks, tend to hold daylight like a sponge limiting it to bounce off the room. Pale color palettes such as the pale greens and blues work well with daylight as they amplify it and tend to reflect it. There is science applied to this as each color has a light value attached to it. Color has a light value associated with each shade which is based on the value of light absorbed and reflected. Keep in mind light isn’t white as it appears, it is a combination of red, blue, indigo, violet, green and blue which forms the color spectrum. So in a room space that is highlighted in red, most parts of the spectrum will be absorbed, expect red which is reflected giving an impression that it is a tight space closing in. The reflection value increases as you near towards the white color shade giving you a higher reflecting value. Therefore the more shades of white that is added to you base color more it bounces as off as it reflects it.

Considering the type of flooring you plan before you decorate the room as its also adds to how light behaves in the room. In rooms where you have minimal light trickling through, incorporate a surface that is reflective which can bounce light off it and shoot it across the room to maximise the little bit of light that is coming through. Likewise, the use of carpets in the decor will diminish the light source absorbing lighting that is coming in. Carpets are made of absorbing filaments that absorb the light in. You can even consider a matt or gloss finish if you have the choice in wooden or laminate flooring. A matt surface will scatter light in all direction, a gloss finish on the other hand will directly reflect light on the surrounding walls and ceilings. To diffuse incoming light slate floors in darker shades work well.

Electric lighting also need to be factored in the design process. For the use of electric light, you have to first realise that you cannot efficiently light up a room as the sun does, therefore while planning on an interior project consider creating an atmosphere using it(natural light). Dramatic light, uplighting, background-subtle light are the different variations you can opt for. Having a socket installed in the middle of a space are small touches you can incorporate as subtle lighting. Dramatic uplighting works well if you need to highlight the details in the room.

The three layers if lighting principle are commonly used by interior designers. The base layer is the general lighting layer, which is the primary light used in the room. However, general lighting goes well beyond just only the use of a single light source in the centre of the room. Instead of one single intense lighting source that would caste stronger shadows, multiple lighting points diffuse the light and shadows. The second layer is accent lighting which concentrates on creating mood or atmospheres. Accent lighting is very diverse in the form of picture lights, wall lights, table lamps or even candles. The third layer is task lighting that concentrates on illuminating an area that has a specific function, an example would be of an area to sit and read a book.

While planning a layout of the room, the first thing to decide is to decide where you would want your lights. Each layer needs to have individual control while adding layered lighting. Preparing a lighting planning for your electrician will help in installing these power points for the layout, each separately on a different connection. While planning this layout keep in mind the balance and even distribution across the four corners of the room. If you need to add subtle elements add down-lighters especially in rooms that require plenty of everyday activities taking place, say for example the kitchen. Wall lights work perfect as mood lighting along with a few table lamps that are spread across the room.

Artificial light also comes in many contrasting shades and you have to give it due consideration while planning for the space. A standard light bulb emits more warmer light in comparison to a compact fluorescent lamp. Wavelengths of a light source are calculated on a device called the ‘nanometer’. The wavelength in a natural daylight is between 300-700 nanometers. Other types of lighting have different kinds of wavelengths. Low sodium lighting for example that is often seen in warehouses or even car parks which has a wavelength of only 10 namometers. The narrow wave length gives very poor visibility which gives the appearance of everything appearing to be grey around it. Low voltage down lights on the other hand are excellent in reproducing colors and work well in kitchens or bathrooms as they emit a clean working light and appear very close to day light. A regular home light bulb is a very popular lighting product consumed widely in colder parts of the country even though there are plenty of other options and this is because the effect they give is very warm and comforting. In warmer areas like Goa you have much cooler light sources.

To achieve the right lighting the more simplistic it gets the more it goes to achieve a pleasant atmosphere or mood in the room you are working on.