Putting lighting central to housing design

From Paul Cook, Häfele Business Development Manager

Our homes constantly evolve, in terms of their functionality, feel and style. Recently, we’ve seen an increase in multiple generations living together, home working and consumers creating activity-specific spaces within their properties such as gyms and playrooms.

As homeowners seek to make their properties even more flexible, adapted to these new requirements, different tools are emerging as critical to achieving the desired results. Lighting is increasingly being used by designers to balance room dimension, create better spatial orientation and highlight a room’s key features.

Furthermore, while smart, integrated lighting is a simple and effective way to add an all-important finishing touch to a space, lighting choices can also either negatively impact or benefit our health. As such, lighting should be considered at the initial design stage of a new build or renovation project, to ensure homeowners can achieve a premium look and feel in their spaces while enjoying better wellbeing.

Lighting for comfort
Lighting is a fundamental part of life, so as homes continue to shrink with less natural light available1, homeowners are looking to artificial, indoor systems to bring the outdoors in and make their homes a more comfortable place to be.

An article from Forbes2 stated that both our physical and mental health can be negatively affected by poor lighting, with excessive exposure to white and blue light highlighted for its effect on how well we relax and sleep at night. Poor lighting can also cause eye strain, headaches and anxiety.

On the other hand, well-considered lighting designs and installations can evoke positive reactions from us; they can calm, motivate, inspire or even enliven our mood. The right lighting components can also reduce our propensity to suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and can make a family feel warmer or cooler, even if the room temperature stays the same3. For example, a high blue component has an invigorating effect on the body, creating a cool, fresh aura. By comparison, strong red and yellow-coloured light has a relaxing effect and evokes a state of rest.

Layering lighting
We use our homes for a variety of reasons – to get work done, relax and unwind, socialise with friends and much more. The right lighting conditions are crucial to enable us to carry out these activities safely and comfortably, but layering different lighting techniques serves an even greater purpose.

For example, accent lighting is used to highlight specific features within a room or piece of furniture, while spotlights focus the eyes on a specific point, highlighting interesting objects or acting as pathfinders. Task lighting – often in strip form – is used to ensure we can use work areas for their main purpose, while ambient lighting helps us achieve a specific mood and can make our spaces feel bigger or cosier.

By combining these lighting techniques within one space, designers can simultaneously highlight the different elements of a room so a homeowner can achieve all the functions it serves, but also experience increased comfort in line with their changing needs.

LED technology
Technological LED systems – such as those controlled by apps – can be used to create a luxurious, high-end feel. Simultaneously, they give homeowners more control over the look and feel of their spaces, allowing them to adapt lighting to their changing needs and moods.

LED lighting with a complete RGB spectrum allows a user to set the colour and brightness of the lighting in their room, whether static or built into fitted furniture – such as headboards, bed bases and kitchen cabinets – to create specific atmospheres. For example, white light makes a room look more modern; warm light can create a relaxing feel.

With the ability to create customised settings and with the option to be integrated into fitted furniture to save space, LED strip lighting has become about so much more than its reduced power usage and ease of installation compared to halogen alternatives.

Architects know it’s essential to understand the end user’s current requirements and potential plans for their home in the future, before putting pen to paper. When it comes to lighting, it’s vital to provide a balance between furniture lighting and other lighting elements, which complement each other perfectly. Specialists who understand how furniture can have its functionality and appearance further enhanced by lighting know how to get maximum impact from LED technology, and can recommend systems which integrate into spaces so seamlessly that a homeowner doesn’t need to know how much skill and expertise was required to put it together in the first place.