How to get Light Right

October 15, 2021

How to get Light Right 

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Lighting a room is easy right? And best achieved with a liberal sprinkling of spotlights or a good ceiling light? Wrong! There’s so much more to good lighting and once you’ve seen the difference between a well lit and a badly lit room, you’ll never want a spotlight to darken your door (or illuminate it...) again. 

Read on for Birdie’s ultimate guide to getting lighting right in any room. 

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1. Think about light in layers or levels 

We use most rooms in our homes at different times of day, in all seasons and for lots of different purposes. Even a room that seems fairly single-purpose needs different types of light. Take a bedroom for example: it needs soft light for bedtime, task lighting for reading and probably options for dimmed/full light too. 

These different light layers can be achieved using light from different sources. In the bedroom example you might opt for ambient wall lights, bedside lamps and perhaps wall mounted task lights for comfortable reading. 

-Bedside table lamp with holly lampshade

2. If you’re working on a project at home think about lighting early on 

Leaving plug socket and light switch positioning as a last minute decision is never a good idea! Getting these simple things wrong can be annoying for years to come and often isn’t that easy to fix. If in doubt go for more sockets rather than less and think about whether you want your table lamps hardwired or not. Lastly banish traditional switches and get on board with dimmers! They make even the simplest lighting so much more versatile and you won’t know how you managed without them. 

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3. If you’re looking for a pendant light or shade 

Any kind of ceiling light that’s too small will look unbalanced so make sure you measure carefully before ordering. If you’re looking for a pendant shade, then think about whether you will be able to look up into it or not. If so, opt for one that has a cover over the base - there’s nothing less appealing than having to stare at bare bulbs. Our Bel Pendant Shades have been designed specifically to avoid this problem and will hang just about anywhere, casting a useful yet softened light. Try these if you’re looking for shades to go above a kitchen island, in a hallway or anywhere that requires pairs of multiples. 

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Statement pendant lights can look so stylish in dramatic spaces like hallways and stairwells. If in doubt go bigger and don’t forget to consider the flex and hanging chain if there will be a lot of it on display. 

Hanging lampshade pendant over kitchen island-

4. Wall lights are your new best friends 

Some people think wall lights are a bit old-school but they’re so useful and can look timeless. There are now lots of options available to suit all budgets for awkward rooms like bathrooms and kitchens too, so there’s no excuse! One of the easiest styles to use is a single or double lamp with a shade (or shades). Go for clean lines in brass or painted metal and remember that you can always change the shades for a totally different look. This versatility is great if you like to update your scheme fairly regularly or swap things around for the different seasons. 

We now have a wide range of candle lampshades with standard bulb clip fixings to suit all sorts of interiors. The gently tapered shape is totally versatile and strikes the perfect balance between classic and contemporary. Try our Seema Raffia shades in a kitchen or sitting room, or our Celandine shades with a decorative trim in a drawing room. 

Stacked Candle Lampshade with Clip Fitting
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5. Which table lamp? 

This is one area where you can get creative as lots of lamp bases are truly multi functional and will work in all sorts of different rooms. Most of our lamps are designed to be versatile and are made with proportions to suit a variety of different rooms and requirements. Our ultimate all rounder is our Rovzen base which has a pleasing rounded form that works anywhere. Pair it with a plain or printed shade or switch between the two to keep things fresh. 

If you’ve got a space where a pair of lamps would work well then go for it. It’s such a chic look that easily elevates the styling in a room and helps to provide a focal point that balances the space. We’re huge fans of console tables behind sofas which are the perfect place for a pair of lamps. Equally a pair of cabinets or a long sideboard could also work well. 

Round Glass Lamp with Holly Lampshades

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Our Thuluth Ridged Glass lamps are great in this sort of setting and lend themselves to rooms with more compact dimensions. In loftier settings try the Vekony base or go for a statement look with our Abstract base. This stylish lamp is made from moulded brass that has been painted in three strong colours to suit any interior. Pair it with a textural raffia lampshade for a contemporary, textural look. A bedroom is one of the easiest places to use a pair of lamps. Our current favourites are our Runda and Rovzen Glass bases - both are a generous size but the soft shape and translucency of the glass works particularly well in a bedroom setting.

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As we all know the demand for home office furniture and accessories has been unprecedented and most of us have had to rethink our home working spaces to some degree. Extra light is fairly essential on a desk whether in the form of a task light or an ambient lamp. You can’t beat a proper anglepoise if you need that sort of direct light and we’ve designed our own lamp to solve general light requirements. Our metal desk lamp has a very deliberately diminutive form that is narrow enough to slot into the corner of any crowded desk. The modern design is more than chic enough if your desk is on view at home and works well in any restricted space in need of extra illumination. 

-Runda glass lamp on side table furniture

5. The table lamp/shade size conundrum 

One of the interior questions we get asked most is how to choose the right size and shape of lampshade for a table lamp. And with good reason as getting it wrong can look really really wrong! If you’re buying your lamp base and shade from two different places then make sure you take the following into account: 

- What framework the lampshade has?
- Whether it has an integrated holder or needs a shade carrier?
- What size neck the bulb holder on the lamp has (for shade compatibility)?
- The precise dimensions of the lamp base and shade 
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Once you’ve got this info you’ll also need to bear in mind where you’re planning on placing the lamp. Will it be on a tall piece of furniture, on a low table or at a bedside? Placement can affect the size of shade carrier you choose, as it may be that you’ll need the shade to sit a bit higher or lower than standard. 

The most common mistake with lampshades is using one that’s too small. This results in an awkward overall look that changes the proportions of the base. If there isn’t a guide to shade/ base sizing then go bigger rather than smaller and make sure that the shade has enough depth so that the lamp doesn’t end up looking squat. 

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We specify a shade size for all of our table lamps to make the decision making process as pain free as possible! 

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