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Let there be light.. how clever layering can enhance your interiors

From show-stopping pendants to the humble table lamp, if you strike the right balance, lighting has the power to transform your space and even lift your mood

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Nordic Elements table lamp

Nordic Elements table lamp

Sculptural wall lamp from Ferm Living

Sculptural wall lamp from Ferm Living

El Globe floor lamp with table from Hicken

El Globe floor lamp with table from Hicken

Travis metallic wall sconce, Sklum

Travis metallic wall sconce, Sklum

Como portable table lamp, Nordic Elements

Como portable table lamp, Nordic Elements

Aluvia lampshade, CA Design

Aluvia lampshade, CA Design

Velvet and cane lamp, Oliver Bonas

Velvet and cane lamp, Oliver Bonas

Junit drop pendant, Smallable

Junit drop pendant, Smallable

Gesso mustard table lamp, Woo Design

Gesso mustard table lamp, Woo Design

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Nordic Elements table lamp

“More and more, so it seems to me, light is the beautifier of the building” — Frank Lloyd Wright.

Have you ever walked into a room and felt overwhelmed or instantly at ease? It’s usually down to the lighting, which, they say, can ‘make or break a space’, transforming not only how you feel but how your home feels and functions and bringing life to dark corners.

Wright isn’t the only architect or designer to consider lighting seminal, if not the most important, aspect of creating the perfect space: it can raise a ceiling, alter form and shape and create drama in a room. In my years covering interiors I have interviewed my fair share of designers and architects and visited plenty of beautiful homes and all have common ground: each of them had ‘considered’ lighting that was integral to each room, lighting that worked in harmony with the interiors, lighting that enhanced a mood.

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Sculptural wall lamp from Ferm Living

Sculptural wall lamp from Ferm Living

Sculptural wall lamp from Ferm Living

Most designers agree that you need more than one light source. Layering is key to striking the right balance of ambient lighting on different levels: overhead, accent and task lights which allow your eye to travel while creating visual interest. Each room can benefit from a mix of lighting.

In the kitchen for instance, you may have pendant lights over a counter, downlighters in fixed cupboards or shelving or on outer walls for a gentle wash and accent lighting such as a lamp.

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El Globe floor lamp with table from Hicken

El Globe floor lamp with table from Hicken

El Globe floor lamp with table from Hicken

Creating contrast is important, allowing for some darker space and shadows in between; as one architect once told me, “you light for the shadows, not for the light”. For example, try pairing a large ceiling light with something more minimal such as a soft wall light or a floor lamp. Awkward dark corners benefit from an oversized floor lamp which creates a soft glow and can double as a statement piece in a room, such as Ferm Living’s Dou or Hebe floor lamps (Ferm Living).

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Travis metallic wall sconce, Sklum

Travis metallic wall sconce, Sklum

Travis metallic wall sconce, Sklum

Statement pieces are what Irish lighting designer Niamh Barry is all about. She has long worked beyond the traditional parameters creating sculptural interlocking forms, that play on shape, movement and balance that are stunning works of art as well as functional light pieces.

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Gesso mustard table lamp, Woo Design

Gesso mustard table lamp, Woo Design

Gesso mustard table lamp, Woo Design

Similarly designer Kelly Wearstler suggests treating light as an artistic focal point as seen in her playful use of statement light fixtures such as the oversized twin hand sconces used for the entrance of a hotel that are beautiful and works of art, making a powerful first impression as guests walk through the front doors.

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Como portable table lamp, Nordic Elements

Como portable table lamp, Nordic Elements

Como portable table lamp, Nordic Elements

The humble table lamp has equally become a talking point taking on sculptural shapes and bold designs, pulling interest even when the lights are out (Bloomingville, Smallable, Hicken Lighting, Nordic Elements).

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Aluvia lampshade, CA Design

Aluvia lampshade, CA Design

Aluvia lampshade, CA Design

Art Deco shapes as well as cool marble, metallics and simple, pared-back design and finishes are trending so expect to see plenty of brass and marble fixtures as well as scalloped edges and globe shapes for 2022 such as GUBI’s 5321 table lamp, Hicken Lighting’s globe floor lamp with connected side table and Mullan Lighting’s Osier marbled ceramic wall light.

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Velvet and cane lamp, Oliver Bonas

Velvet and cane lamp, Oliver Bonas

Velvet and cane lamp, Oliver Bonas

The last two years were heavy on the handcrafted and there’s no sign of that wavering in 2022 so expect to see handwoven shades and lighting with natural finishes (Oliver Bonas, Kave Home, Ikea, Smallable).

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Junit drop pendant, Smallable

Junit drop pendant, Smallable

Junit drop pendant, Smallable

Lastly, consider the bulb: you may have the most beautiful light fixture but if you’re using the wrong bulb it could change the entire mood of the room, and how you feel about that beautiful light, with the flick of a switch.


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