The 8 Biggest Home Lighting Blunders and How to Fix Them

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Mistake 1 – Recessed lighting in the kitchen

Recessed lights, where the lights are embedded into the ceiling, are a common source of lighting crimes. Not really considered ambient lights, often misplaced as task lights and no use as accent lighting, recessed lights are generally overused to no great effect other than wasted energy.

How to fix it

Firstly, work out which areas of your kitchen benefit from natural light and which areas are lit with your existing lighting set up. Once you've done this you can identify the areas that are left with inadequate lighting, as recessed lighting tends to create 'pools' of light rather than flooding an area with an even light. You can create 'zones' in your kitchen to eradicate dark corners by adding extra lighting such as pendant lighting over areas where people work, eat or cook, and use accent lighting to light under cabinets, in cabinets, alcoves or the top of cabinets. This way, the recessed lighting can be used as your main overhead lighting and enhanced with more flexible and practical lighting.

kitchen lighting 2

Mistake 2 – Poorly lit work areas in the kitchen

In the kitchen placement of task lights are the most important instalment issue to consider. In any room in the house, you should consider the available natural light sources, uses of specific spaces and of course areas to highlight for style purposes. Above all this though, you need to identify your key workspace areas, especially if you are a dedicated cook. Most people have accidentally grated their knuckles or found the washing up to be sub-standard and this can generally be attributed to poor task lighting…honestly!

How to fix it

The worktops and cooker are the most important lighting areas to get right in a kitchen as accidents can happen if people can't see what they're doing. Plus, you don't want to 'sweeten' a cake mixture with salt or add cinnamon instead of paprika to a savoury dish. The easiest and cheapest way to improve the lighting in these areas is to add stick-on lights under your cabinets to add extra lighting to specific areas and you won't need to pay for an electrician.

dimmly lit kitchen

Mistake 3 – Using downlights in the bathroom

If your friend at work keeps pointing out foundation smudges or you're regularly turning up to the office with little dots of tissue on your face after shaving in the morning, chances are you've thought only about lighting your posh metal fittings and not your bleary eyed morning routine. By just relying on downlights you produce unflattering shadows on and around your face.

How to fix it

Give your bathroom the Hollywood treatment and invest in a mirror with inbuilt lighting, often these feature fluorescent strip lights which are built into the glass. Mirrors like this provide an even light and allow you (for better or worse) to see every detail of your face clearly. Bathroom mirrors like these do require wiring so consider using an electrician to install it for you.

bathroom lighting

Mistake 4 – Non-dimmable lights in the hallway and lounge

Using incandescent or halogen lighting without dimming controls. Having dimming capacity decreases heat and energy output as well as lengthening lamp life. It's also gentle. Coming downstairs and turning on the equivalent of a solar flare on those dark winter mornings is a guaranteed way to start your day in a bad mood.

How to fix it

Fixing a dimmer switch is simple, you can either install the new switch yourself, or ask an electrician to do it for you which should cost around £40, if you're providing the switch. Once your dimmer switch is installed, just make sure you have the correct type of light bulb fitted as not all light bulbs are designed to be dimmed. Putting non-dimmable light bulbs into fittings controlled by a dimmable light switch can actually be a fire hazard. If you have a dimmer switch fitted already, then you may need to get this changed to a specific LED dimmer switch if you're upgrading your lighting to LEDs. The easiest way to test is to fit an LED and see how well it dims, if it flickers then you'll be better off upgrading your dimmer switch. Dimmable light bulbs should say they're dimmable on the packet. You can find out more about dimmable LEDs with this guide.

light hallway

Mistake 5 – Not enough lighting options in communal areas

Your partner may want to watch a documentary whilst you also snuggle up to read in the same room. With TV and surround sound technology, a lack of lighting may help you feel like you are on that night safari with the National Geographic but if you want to stay in the same room as each other, you will need to adjust the lighting.

How to fix it

The issue here is generally how to split the lighting. A well-placed standing or table lamp or a task light is what you'll need for the bookworm in the house, just make sure that it's positioned so it doesn't cast a glare on the TV screen. If you've got a few mates round for a glass of wine on the sofa and a catch up you might just want some subtle accent lights highlighting pictures or architectural features, such as alcoves, to create a relaxed mood. Some lamps feature dimmers in them which are activated when the base of the lamp is touched to go from bright, medium to dim. These are particularly useful for when you need flexibility with your lighting as you can change the lighting scheme in one touch.

living room

Mistake 6 – Limited light switches

The bedroom is normally a main culprit for minimum light switches as well as lounge and dining spaces. There's nothing worse than getting into bed, making yourself comfortable and then remembering you need to turn the light off at the main switch across the other side of the room.

How to fix it

Using side tables or bedside lamps is the obvious option but for a more permanent solution you could consider installing extra light switches to your existing circuit. If you're adding an extra switch yourself then check out the Part P Building Regulations on this as there are certain rules and regulations you will need to follow to ensure the switch is safe. If in doubt, it is always safer to use a qualified Part P electrician which you can do on the Electrical Safety First website. You should expect to pay around £50 – £150 to have this done professionally.

light switch

Mistake 7 – High ceiling and recessed lighting

Old houses with high ceilings may be beautiful but add recessed lighting to the mix and you've got a problem as they're hard to reach and don't distribute light particularly well.

How to fix it

Swap any spotlight bulbs for floodlight bulbs in your recessed lighting fixtures. Spotlights (as the name suggests) concentrate light on one spot which can create dim patches in a room whereas floodlight bulbs spread the light wider and more evenly. LEDs are a great choice for recessed lights on high ceilings as they need changing a lot less frequently than halogen bulbs which means you won't have to get your ladders out as often. LEDs are a great choice for recessed lights on high ceilings as they need changing a lot less frequently than halogen bulbs which means you won't have to get your ladders out as often.

recessed lighting

Mistake 8 – Decorating with light

That architecturally designed freestanding lamp may look stunning on its own but in with all of the other furniture and fixtures it could be redundant, make the room look too busy or just look plain out of place.

How to fix it

Identify the areas you want to light and for what purpose, then look to style. If you move or decorate regularly then choose classically styled lamps in muted colours which will never go out of fashion. Alternatively you could invest in lamps with changeable shades to update the look easily whenever you want a change. A standard lamp and a couple of table lamps should be plenty unless you're lighting a particularly large area.

dimmly lit living roomm

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