Clever Lighting Ideas

An Anna Ainscough Interview with Decorcafe Expert Victoria Jerram

Most interior designers would concede that lighting is a key component in any design scheme but it often gets overlooked or left till last. The right lighting can bring a scheme to life – create drama, enhance mood, draw the eye, bring flow and the illusion of space – and all at the flick of a switch.

Here the lighting designer, Victoria Jerram, takes us through some of her favourite projects and explains how clever lighting design can make all the difference.

Basement Swimming Pool

Photograph: Matt Reeves

This Belgravia Private Residence presents a number of challenges common to narrow mews houses, mainly concerning the lack of natural light available.

The windowless basement, planned as a swimming pool and spa area with a light, beachy feel for use by the family and for entertainment, risked feeling stark and cave-like without natural light. So it was necessary to introduce a good amount of lighting, particularly to the walls and the pool – for safety – but also to make the most of the reflection off the water to create an inviting and welcoming space. RGBW uplighting is used for calm, white light during the day and coloured lighting for a more sophisticated feel in the evenings.

Lighting Kitchen, Victoria Jerram

Photograph: Matt Reeves

The kitchen is part of the first floor broken plan entertaining space but also suffers from a lack of window light. Here, uplighting positioned on the top of the kitchen cabinets bounces soft reflected light off the ceiling and makes for a bright and airy feel – it’s hard to believe from this picture that there’s not some glazing just out of shot. Task lighting on the work surfaces facilitates cooking and low level lights under the kitchen island lend a more intimate feel for evenings.

Lighting Stairwell, Victoria Jerram

Photograph: Matt Reeves

Narrow, dark stairs in this property take you from ground level up to third floor but the size of the stairwell limits the amount of light from  the skylight above. It’s an obvious place for a dramatic light fitting which might link the different floors but space is restricted. The solution is a bespoke chandelier – which hangs in two parts – from 3rd to 2nd and from 1st to ground floor. This striking feature uses cutting edge organic LED lighting technology for maximum impact using small components. Step lighting that comes on with a sensor at night complements the main feature and provides safety.

So it turns out mews houses are a lighting designer’s dream project – or nightmare – depending on whether they like a challenge!

Eglon House Lighting Living and Working Space

Photograph: Joas Souza

Eglon House This dramatic modernist house, built on the site of a recording studio where David Bowie and Tina Turner have both recorded, incorporates 13,000 feet of both living and working quarters (so perfect for these lockdown times). Inspired by the iconic Maison de Verre in Paris, it’s key feature is a dramatic, double-height, glass-walled front, so no shortage of natural light in this property.

The challenge here is to create a cohesive but flexible lighting scheme to link the various parts of this huge house but one which also plays a role in its strong industrial aesthetic.

Lighting for flexible space, Victoria Jerram

Photograph: Joas Souza

Finding a single overall lighting solution suitable for both the home and work parts of the property, which could be adapted to the different ceiling heights throughout must have been daunting. However, Victoria met the challenge with a bespoke brass track and spotlighting system which fitted the bill while using a premium material for a high end finish. The beam angles of the spotlights are adjusted according to the ceiling height and how the room is being used.

Versatile Lighting, Bedroom, Victoria Jerram

Photograph: Joas Souza

The scale of the building, combined with its exposed concrete ceilings and hard polished floors, makes it tricky to create intimacy. To instill a sense of warmth and comfort, layers of light were added in the form of floor recessed uplights and wall lights. It was also important to include plenty of 5A sockets for table of floor lamps, and to use very warm, white lamps of 2700K.

Bespoke Lighting, Victoria Jerram

Photograph: Joas Souza

Commissioning and sourcing decorative lighting pieces to fit the design story is a key part of the skillset a lighting designer brings to a project – here a bespoke version of Richard Taylor Milano wall light is used for the Library shelving.

Lighting a Hallway, Victoria Jerram

Photograph: David Butler

This third private residence in Surrey is Vcitoria’s own home and perhaps an example of the kind of issue most of us face when lighting our homes – that of achieving a premium look for a non-premium price.

Chandelier, Victoria Jerram

Photograph: David Butler

Here a triple height atrium links three floors with standard height ceilings of 2.5m. It was tempting to suspend a long drop pendant to light the staircase but Victoria liked the sense of space and didn’t want to clutter it or create an imbalance with the lower ceilings within the hall.

A tight budget proved to be helpful in distilling the decision-making process but the limited ceiling height was more challenging. However Victoria’s extensive product knowledge meant she knew the perfect fixtures and these two striking chandeliers were chosen for the ground and first floor, whilst discreet spotlights were used to focus light onto the console table and floor for a more welcoming feel.

Lighting for different ceiling heights, Victoria Jerram

Photograph: David Butler

Here the natural light from the skylight falls uninterrupted to the hall below, creating it’s own gentle shadows.

I’ve always had this idea that thoughtful lighting design in your home is much like the role of a soundtrack in a movie – it’s there to enhance the experience, add drama where necessary and underscore the narrative – but it often goes unnoticed unless it’s done badly.

If you’d like to know about what a lighting designer can bring to your home, Victoria is contactable at: Victoriajerram.com or victoria@victoriajerram.com.

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