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Room by Room Lighting Guide

Many people spend a great deal of money decorating and furnishing their homes to create an atmosphere and then more often than not forget about the lighting!

Try to think how you will be using the room?
• Is it primarily for use during the day or at night?
• For study or entertaining?
• Where is the furniture to go?
• Consider where you are to put the light and the surfaces under and around it
• What effect will the reflected light have?

Always think about your lighting scheme before you start to decorate a room, all rooms need a variety of lighting. Good lighting can update and complement a room thus improving the atmosphere but equally, nothing makes a room feel more dated and unwelcoming like bad lighting.

Colour is most important! Incandescent bulbs help create a cosy atmosphere in living areas while fluorescent lamps give a cooler, more efficient light for utility rooms. A room painted in a dark colour will need more light as much of it will be absorbed, whilst lighter wall colours reflect light.

Avoid glare by placing the lights at a height which prevents the eye from seeing the bulb directly. Pendants should not be hung so high that the bulb is clearly visible underneath. Take care with lights that are placed over reflective surfaces such as glass tables. If a room has to perform several functions, consider installing a dimmer. This will allow a higher light level for working or reading and a lower light level for relaxation. This can prove useful too for older eyes which need more light.

Different rooms have different functions, consequently each room will have a different lighting requirement. Hopefully, the following guide will help you decide which light sources you need for each room in your home.

If you wish to discuss any of your lighting requirements, please don’t hesitate to contact us via our ‘Contact Us’ page.

Alternatively email us at: nigel@arnolds-electrical.com or phone on: 01633 266607


Entrances and hallways are the rooms that give the visitors to your home their first impression. By combining the right type of lighting in your hallway, in conjunction with large mirrors which accentuate the effects of the light, you can create a spacious area that is instantly warm, welcoming and bright.

Depending on personal taste and the size of the hall and ceiling, some people choose to install grand and spectacular crystal chandeliers while some people choose more understated, contemporary fittings. Wall and table lights can also provide accent lighting to compliment the main ceiling fitting and illuminate the surrounding area.

Ceiling lanterns can be an ideal solution for entrance hall lighting as the diameter of the light fitting is not generally so great, which helps if your entrance is narrow. Obviously if space isn’t an issue, you are not limited to using lanterns, then you could go for something more extravagant such as a crystal chandelier.

When deciding on lighting for your hallway, think about the size and what it is used for:

Entrance with a glass door or glass above the door: A popular idea is to hang a pendant lantern so that it is visible from the outside. This also helps to light the porch area when visitors arrive and also can be used as a security measure. A flush porch lantern could also be used to compliment your lighting scheme.

Dark entrance hallways: These hallways can be lit using a combination of lighting methods. A table lamp on an entrance hall table and a flush ceiling fitting, can brighten the darkest of hallways.

Small hallways: Wall sconces and flush ceiling fittings with the use of light décor, will brighten and give the sense of width to even the smallest hallway. Wall uplighters are also a good idea if you have a narrow hallway.

Low ceilings: If ceiling height is restricted, semi-flush light fittings are appropriate as they keep the decorative aesthetics of a chandelier or pendant in a controlled height fitting.

Staircases are often neglected. They must be well lit to provide a safe environment and avoid accidents due to lack of visibility. By installing directional lights at floor level, you avoid this and create a more subtle, evenly distributed light. For optimal conditions there should be around 2.5 – 3 metres between each wall fitting. Wall lights should also be around 170cm from the floor so they are just above eye line. If the lamp source is not visible, the fitting will look more attractive. There should be a switch at both the top and bottom of the staircase so it is convenient to turn off a light which is not in use. Stairs are also a great place to hang prints and pictures so it’s important that they are also well lit with the use of picture lights so you can see them.


The kitchen forms the heart of your home. You can spend a fortune on the right units and appliances, therefore it is important to balance well with effective and stylish lighting. The lighting should be the very best for working, socialising and eating. It should be flexible and practical to cope with the daily stresses and strains put upon it, but there shouldn’t need to be a compromise on the physical attractiveness.

A popular choice is recessed spotlights spread evenly out across the ceiling, available in a wide variety of finishes to match the décor in your kitchen, they are also available in either mains voltage (240v) and low voltage (12v).

Another alternative is track lighting. This allows a great deal of flexibility in terms of positioning lights exactly where you want them in the room. Another advantage of track lighting is that it only requires one power point.

Most kitchens also double up as dining rooms and so lighting must also be suitable to accompany meals. Harsh lights are not appealing at mealtimes and over dining tables semi-flush bars of individual lights are suitable, especially if they are retractable as they can be brought as close or placed as far as desired to/from the table. If the lamps used are halogen, the food will look especially appetising due to halogen’s colour rendering qualities.

Breakfast bar area: Try modern lighting pendants such as single or multiple drop pendant light fittings, either with opal white glass or coloured glass. These can be set at different heights or at the same height in order to create a modern lighting style. As this type of lighting generally is set low over a table or kitchen breakfast bar area, they provide a useful lighting source for preparing food as well as creating a contemporary look to your kitchen.

Large kitchen ceiling areas: These areas look fabulous with recessed downlights and give superb lighting levels which are necessary to cook by.

Glass door wall units: If you have glass fronted display units in your kitchen, the use of small halogen lights specifically designed for the purpose will add interest. Low-voltage downlights can bring out the best in your glassware. The light is also reflected up onto the ceiling and can give a stunning prismatic effect.

Kitchen wall units: Fluorescent tubes under wall mounted units cast an efficient light over work surfaces and prevent shadows. They also ensure you are not blocking out the very light in which you need to work.

Smaller kitchens: Spotlight track lighting can be used in smaller kitchens or to angle light onto specific work surfaces.

Low ceilings: If your ceiling is low or you want to avoid a central light, consider the use of a number of downlights which create a glare free and pleasing effect whilst remaining functional.


The dining room should be a place of relaxation where friends and family can gather for family meals or lavish dinner parties. Lighting is probably the most important aspect of any dining room and usually the table is the centrepiece of the room. Lighting can play a large role in creating the mood; it should be subtle, yet sparkling.  If it is too dark, you won’t be able to see what you are eating, but if it is too light, the atmosphere will be spoilt.

Lighting such as well placed track lighting (for long tables) or a pendant (for smaller tables) directly over the dining table will ensure that people can see each other during mealtimes as well as their food! Don’t hang a pendant so low that your diners have to peer round it, about 60cm above the table is about right. Now very popular are the modern ‘rise and fall’ pendants which add a modern feature as well as being very practical. At the end of mealtimes and conversation becomes the main focus of the table, softer wall or floor lamps/uplighters which take light away from the table is more appropriate, creating an ambient, cosy effect. If you have a glass dining table, make sure the light is fitted with a diffuser so that your diners are not looking at a reflection of the light bulb.

Clear bulbs in crystal or glass chandeliers will enhance sparkle. China cabinets containing ornaments or crystal can be lit up with a halogen bulb to create white light that will bring out its sparkle.


This room is probably the most functional room of the house where many different activities take place and the majority of us spend our leisure time. Living room lights should be easily controllable, functional and be able to create ambience. Try to avoid using one central light which will create hard shadows and possible glare. Instead aim to use plenty of different light sources to create pools of light which will give a more interesting effect. Floor lamps beside or behind your chair which can be switched on/off whilst seated will prove invaluable and are great for reading. Two or three table lamps placed around the perimeter on tables, shelves or furniture will give the room a more spacious feeling as the light radiates inwards. Illuminate bookcases, pictures or objects of interest with picture lights or halogen spot lights. Wall lights and pendants on a dimmer switch can raise the level of illumination in the room without needing to adjust any of the other light sources but beware of glare if they are mounted too high.


For the study table, desk lamps with adjustable height which will reach over the area where you are working are ideal. If you have a computer or laptop, try and light the wall behind it to avoid tiring your eyes when looking at the screen. It is also important to make sure the lights in the room do not reflect off the screen into your eyes, therefore softer lighting being the best option.


Bathroom lighting needs to be functional and safe as well as setting the atmosphere! Bright, clean white light such as halogen spotlights create maximum light around the bathroom. A single, focused shower downlight is ideal for when you just want to illuminate the shower area. Illuminated bathroom mirrors are perfect for personal grooming and creating a modern and fresh look. Another useful option is to have a dimmer switch which creates a warm glow when you want to take a slow, relaxing bath!

There are important safety rules that need to be adhered to when thinking about bathroom lighting and hopefully this guide will help you understand which fittings can be placed where.

The bathroom is divided into three zones: 0, 1 & 2. Only light fittings suitable for the relevant zone should be used. Try to avoid lighting which is too bright as the polished surfaces from mirrors, glass shower doors etc. may cause glare. Glass or ceramic lights are the best options for bathroom lighting as fittings containing wood, leather or fabric can degrade with the humid and moist atmosphere.

It is always recommended that the main light should be switched on by a pull cord or a light switch situated outside the bathroom. This is NOT an installation guide and reference should be made to the IEE Wiring Regulations or advice from a qualified electrician.

Firstly, it is important to understand the rating by which bathroom and some outdoor lights are classified. IP rating stands for “Ingress Protection” and is always followed by two characters. These two numbers refer to level of protection and it is important that you choose fittings with the correct rating according to where they are to be sited within the bathroom.

The diagram below shows a bathroom split into three clear zones: 0, 1 & 2. 



Zone 0 - is inside the bath or shower itself. Any fitting used in this zone must be low voltage, (max 12v) and rated at least IP67 which is immersion proof.

Zone 1 - is the area above the bath to a height of 2.25m from the floor. In this zone a minimum rating of IP44 is required.

Zone 2 - is an area stretching 0.6m outside the perimeter of the bath and to a height of 2.25m from the floor. In this zone an IP rating of at least IP44 is required.

The lighting circuit within a bathroom should be protected with a 30ma residual current device (RCD). In addition it is good practice to consider the area around the wash basin, within a 60cm radius of any tap to be considered as Zone 2. In accordance with advice from the Lighting Association the location above Zone 1 (over the bath or shower) up to a ceiling height of 3m continues to be classified as Zone 2. 








The bedroom should be a place for peace and tranquillity. It is an area where you want to relax and be away from the stresses and strains of life and lighting can be used to create this sanctuary. There are many functions of a bedroom and therefore different lighting styles are required.

When reading in bed, swing arm wall lights are a great idea as they are adjustable and provide sufficient light which allow you to read whilst your partner wants to sleep. Table lamps should be placed on a bedside table with the bottom of the shade lower than your head level. If placed above, this will shine light onto what you are doing and produce a glare. Opaque shades are best to use because they will dim the light thus not disturbing your partner. To brighten a dull corner, a table lamp can add an attractive light feature to any bedroom. For convenience and safety you should aim to have bedroom lights controlled from the bed and individually switched. 

For dressing, you may need a general illumination or if your partner wakes up at a different time, do you need a lower level of light which won’t disturb them? A well positioned downlighter will help here.

Dressing tables need more specific lighting and the use of two slender table lamps or two wall lamps either side of a mirror gives a good working light which ensures that no shadows are cast on your face whilst applying make-up. 


A bright, central ceiling light is necessary to provide light for children to play. You may also need a desk/table light if your child reads in bed or does their homework at a desk in their bedroom. Small table lamps or wall lights will be practical as well as create a relaxed, soft atmosphere for bedtime. Wall lights are always a safe option if you have very young children as they will not be able to reach them and it removes the danger that can be caused by leads.

Nightlights for children’s rooms give peace of mind, to child and parent, especially if your child does not like the dark. They also cost very little to run. For new mums, low level lighting such as plug in nightlights are ideal when feeding newborns at night. The soft lighting gives off enough light to see what you are doing, without having a bright, glaring light to fully wake mum and newborn! They come in a beautiful range of designs and styles…great as a gift!

Older children will want to have fun lighting and there are many effective novelty lights available online. Be imaginative, decorative and novelty lights can be purchased in every form and fashion from aeroplanes to fairy lights. 


There’s nothing better than spending summer days relaxing in your garden but the enjoyment shouldn’t stop there when evening comes. No good having a wonderful garden if you can’t see it to enjoy it! Garden & outdoor lighting is a great way to take pleasure in your garden at night as well as creating a soothing atmosphere. Here are a few ideas about lighting up specific areas of your garden.

Pathways: Small lighting bollards outlining your path subtly light them in a very soft and inviting way which will provide sufficient light as well as being a safety element when walking in the dark. These come in a range of modern and traditional ranges, in any colour and size. Garden rock lights are a more discreet approach to lighting up pathways. Placed at various points along the path, they give out enough light for you to see where you are stepping.

Walls & Doorways: Outdoor wall lights and sconces will light up the front and back of your house. This will create a warm welcome to your home and help illuminate your doorway making it easier for guests to find your property but also make it harder for would be burglars to disguise their approach. There are many traditional wall lantern styles available as well as many modern ranges, in all finishes from white to the popular chrome designs.

Driveways: They can be lit in various ways from recessed LEDs, lampposts to down lighting from trees. The main aim for this type of area is to get a balance between practicality and attractiveness which when done well can transform a house and garden.

Flowerbeds & Borders: Small lighting bollards can also be used to emphasise borders and flowerbeds. Placed in your garden near flowers and plants, they can light up a garden magnificently.

Trees & Bushes: Large trees and bushes are always fantastic to light up and really make a garden stand out. There are lots of different ways to achieve this. An example would be a large tree in the middle of a lawn with recessed lights in the ground with another three or four in the tree. Or why not use net fairy lights to light up topiary bushes and trees.

Garden Ponds & Water features: Spotlights with clear or coloured lamps slightly hidden in foliage and borders can be used to enhance garden ponds, large or small. This can bring a garden to life at night time and create a subtle lighting effect. The use of water in a garden can add both movement to the light and reflect mirror images that can turn your scheme into something amazing and beautiful.

Decking & Seating Areas: With decking being one of the most popular garden attributes over the last few years, recessed LED lights are a fantastic way to finish your outdoor seating area. They come in a range of colours, shapes and sizes which are designed to be walked on and also provide safety by illuminating stepped areas. Small party or fairy lights can be trailed around decking banisters, gazebos or parasols to add a twinkling and soft light from above.

Pergolas, Gazebos, Arbours & Summerhouses: These are fabulous additions to any garden which come in any style and size. Hanging Moroccan lanterns in your arbour or summerhouse will look great or fairy lights mixed in with trailing foliage over a pergola will make any guest envious! Strong lighting should be avoided as will tend to dazzle and diminish the overall effect. Uplighters can be used but recommend they are used against the uprights of the pergola or for example small trees and shrubs just outside the pergola boundary.

Please note that all electrical light fittings must be fitted in accordance with the current IEE wiring and building regulations. We recommend a qualified electrician is employed for this and that the product's fitting instructions are always followed.