Designing lighting schemes: an overview by RJV Designs


Rowena Vaughan on twitter Rowena Vaughan of RJV Designs provides us with an overview of how to approach lighting schemes.

When considering your lighting scheme you should think of ‘layers’ – high level, mid level and low level. Each of these layers play a part in the use and function of the room and each layer has its own type of lights and fittings. Each of these layers can be separated into different sources and styles.

High level, which could also be considered as architectural light, downlighters, spotlights (either surface mounted or recessed), track lighting, stretch wire systems, or any light that is built into the fabric of the building or space and is usually subtle and unseen. One of the most popular high level lights for domestic interiors are pendant lights that often sit above a table or worktop or in the centre of the room. These lights are brilliant for either task-specific lighting where the light is directed down and onto a worktop.

Above: Ceiling spots washing the wall with light – Deltalight


Above: Brass pendant light- Jim Lawrence Traditional Ironwork


Above: Feature lighting – Sharon Marston

Where general ambient lighting is required, larger fittings such as chandeliers with many bulbs will give a more even spread of light. Pendant lights can also be design focal points in rooms. This light by Sharon Marston Lighting (above) is a beautiful example of feature light providing a focal point and also excellent general lighting for the space.

Mid level decorative lighting can include wall-mounted uplighting and downlighting, pendants (again) and table lamps. This lighting is meant to be seen, and should enhance the room in which it is being used. Scene lighting can be a combination of the two (architectural and decorative) – concealed lighting on shelves, behind glass, edge-on to glass shelves and linear lighting sources (such as LED strip lights). Slot and niche lighting give you pools of light in small spaces good for focal points at eye level.

Decorative wall lights – Chelsom

Brass picture lights – Jim Lawrence Traditional Ironwork

Flame leaf wall light- Brabin & Fitz

To provide ambient light there are many different styles of table lamp, including classic, contemporary, traditional and desk lamp. These are an excellent source of warm light and are usually positioned right in your sight line to make a big visual impact. It is worth considering both the light source and how much ambient light (sideways through the shade) as well as direct light (up and down) it sheds. The different style and types of shade will affect this. Card shades will direct more “up and down” light than a silk shade, which will offer more ambient light.

Task lighting is important for any well-designed and planned room. The right source of light should be positioned well for the purpose for which it is required. Essentially to provide specific and sufficient light to work / cook / read / apply makeup etc.

Wall lights and picture lights should be considered as part of the mid level ambient lighting and are usually selected by the style which fits in with the overall scheme/style of the area. If you are thinking of your lighting in layers – then this layer (Mid Level) is one of the most important. Table lamps and wall lights give atmosphere and essential warm light to a room. In this instance size is important, the larger the lamp, the more light produced. The variety of lamps available is huge. Choose your fittings to fit the style of the room.

William table lamp – Brabin & Fitz

Traditional table lamp with card shade

Usually set into the skirting, lower wall or into the floor. This architectural style of lighting is usually used to as a way to draw the eye further into the space and is normally used in halls and stairways, but can also be used to good effect around the base of kitchen units and built-in libraries. This could also be considered a way to illustrate and highlight architectural features.

Thanks to Rowena of RJV Designs for this post. You can keep up with Rowena on twitter.

What are your favourite mid-level lighting pieces, for adding a decorative touch?



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