How to add a touch of sparkle to your home
With reassuring regularity, as soon as the clocks go back thoughts in the interior design world turn to lighting. We're about to start spending more and more of our home time - the majority of it in fact - bathed in artificial light, so it's only natural that we want it to be as comforting, cosy and, well, as gorgeous as possible.
For the last few seasons, bare industrial bulbs dangling from cool coloured cords have been the big winners in the lighting world. Like everything else in interiors though, this autumn they've been given a grown-up touch. "The industrial look is still there, but it is becoming more sophisticated and polished and less like it was found in a skip," jokes Lorraine Stevens, director of design firm and store Lomi (lomi.ie). "Wirework lacquered in various colours is being teamed up with bare bulbs and colourful electrical cords. It's a clean and tidy look."
But more exciting than that has been the boomeranging back of ornate, attention-grabbing pendants in sleek, modern styles. More and more new builds and renovations include that impressive double-height ceiling, and it just cries out for a strong, striking piece of decorative statement lighting.
"Tread carefully though," warns Lorraine. "Measure the space you have to work with and don't forget about the height - it's all too easy to underestimate the volume of a space or to over-light it with a chandelier that is much too big."
She recommends installing a dimmer, even with single pendants, so that you can always control the ambiance.
When picking lighting for key rooms, consider both the tasks that need to take place there and the general atmosphere you want to create.
"Lighting is not just there to help you see at night," Lorraine says. "Every room will have different needs. Determine what type of lighting your room may require and the mood you want to accomplish."
The biggest trends of the season revolve around metals - mainly bronze and gold - and smoky blown glass. "Go for polished chrome for the super sleek contemporary feel and try brass and copper for more traditional styling," she advises. "Blown glass always creates that luxurious atmosphere, so reserve it for the best rooms in the house."
Surprisingly, a lot of these super luxe lights are embracing LED technology. The upfront costs of investing in LED can be higher but, as Lorraine explains, the running costs can be significantly lower, with some bulbs using up to 85pc less energy.
Famously, IKEA have announced that by 2016 their entire lighting range will be LED based. "LED is small and slim, emits little heat and is very low energy," Lorraine explains, adding that this has led to some exciting innovations in the lighting world.
"Thanks to LED, designs with materials normally not used in lighting are now possible, and the designers are finally on to it. Good examples are now to be found in most lighting collections, and you should expect to see even more over the coming years."
Nathalie Marquez Courtney is editor of Image Interiors & Living magazine.
Pick up a pendant
Tom Dixon mirror ball pendants, €454 each, Willie Duggan Lighting Juxtapose against chic period styling for maximum impact; williedugganlighting.com
Glass light fixture, €125, April and the Bear A clean and modern cluster;
Lumina Ires 3, €1,736, Roche Bobois
This beige beauty is a good alternative to metallic pieces; roche-bobois.com
Glo blown glass pendant, from €234, Lomi
Available in different colours and finishes, these work individually or grouped; lomi.ie
Stockholm chandelier, €100, IKEA
A Sputnik-style piece that ticks the mid-century box nicely; ikea.com