Light and sense of space
British designer Sir Terence Conran describes space as "the greatest luxury of our time". All the more reason to make optimal use of the living space available. Light and colour can significantly help make for a pleasant sense of space. Used skilfully, the two ensure visually harmonious proportions in an interior.
For optimum results, make sure that the lighting design takes its cue from the architecture – and thus, combined with the right colour, creates an optimum spatial impact. If you observe the simple basic rules of good lighting, you can experiment at will – and thus turn a dwelling into a home with your personal stamp.
Bright colours are the right choice for the ceiling and walls of a small room: they make it look bigger than it actually is. Are you a fan of cool colours? They soothe and create a greater sense of space, whereas warm colours make surfaces seem closer to the observer. A tip: choose a dark colour for the floor; it gives a sense of solidity and stability.
Where light is reflected by bright walls and ceiling, rooms appear larger. Ceiling floods or wall luminaires radiating light onto the upper part of a wall make a room look higher. Cornices – ledges close to the ceiling – can also be used for this: recessed fluorescent lamps or LEDs make for uniform light distribution. If you have only one ceiling outlet in the middle of the room, a wire or rod system is recommended. It delivers light wherever it is needed, even around corners. A single light shining from above draws the walls inwards, making the room seem smaller.
Light-coloured wall and ceiling surfaces – cream white, light blue, pale yellow or light green – reflect light better than dark walls, so less wattage is needed to produce the same brightness.
Bedroom ceiling feel too low? Choose a lighter shade of colour for the ceiling than for the walls; it opens the room upwards. Ceiling floods, which provide indirect lighting, enhance the effect even more. Or you could try a pale yellow on the ceiling instead of the standard white; pale yellow is more radiant and looks brighter, whereas white ceilings often look grey when in shade.
Variety in a room is ensured by multiple light sources, such as standalone or table luminaires, which conjure up comfortable mood lighting. Accent lighting, e.g. focused, brilliant halogen lighting, directs the observer's eye to pictures or bookcases.
Old apartments often have high ceilings. If a particular room is small, the walls should be a lighter colour than the ceiling. This makes the room appear wider and larger. A darker coloured ceiling reduces the apparent room height. In very high rooms, the general lighting should be directed only onto side walls; the ceiling will then look lower and the room broader.
Colour catches the eye and structures a room. Large airy interiors can stand warm, bold colours. A rear wall in deep burgundy or stylish velvety aubergine shortens a long room because bold warm colours advance towards the observer. Light and cool colours, on the other hand, retreat, making the room look larger.
Luminous ceilings, cornices or wide-angled individual luminaires provide agreeably diffuse, uniform room lighting. Make sure that this general lighting is dimmable – and can thus be regulated as required. Brighter areas of lighting with focused light, e.g. for accent lighting, give the room structure and have a stimulating effect.
Diverse light sources mounted at different heights transform a single large room into a series of interlinked but separate zones. This makes for a varied, dynamic interior.