How to get the right lighting in your home - Melanie Shaw, Brilliant Lighting

Thoughtful lighting highlights detail in the kitchen of a period home

Thoughtful lighting highlights detail in the kitchen of a period home - Credit: Archant

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Getting the lighting in your home just right is both a science and an art, according to lighting consultant Melanie Shaw. ‘Lighting is often overlooked, but is in fact an integral part of creating a home. It can make or break a room,’ she said. The science part is making the best use of high-spec lighting controls and lamp technology, in particular developments with LED.

And finely tuned lighting controls were the key to the success of lighting a new home in a South Yorkshire village. The five-bedroom property with its mixture of pitched and flat roofs, stone and slate exterior and large floor to ceiling glass walls had stunning architecture. The lighting design needed to make sure potentially ‘hard’ features were softened to create a warm, family home

Melanie, the owner of Thirsk-based Brilliant Lighting, worked on the project. ‘Good lighting in modern properties relies on a lot of the interior details, such as room layout and fitted furniture design being thought about at an early stage,’ said Melanie. ‘People often find it difficult to visualise what a house will look like when it’s still only a set of plans. We paint a picture in their minds as to what the house and lighting could look like.

‘Contemporary architecture often uses lots of glass and double height spaces, all of which require careful lighting. We create different moods, painting with light, respecting both the architecture and the clients’ desired “look and feel”.

‘It requires technical excellence, attention to detail and good co-ordination with the rest of the project team.

‘For example in order to up-light the lovely egg shaped bath in the South Yorkshire project, we created a full size template of where the light fittings would go in the floor - a year before the bath arrived on site.

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‘The gentle glow within the glass bathroom wall was created by working with the bathroom designer to design a structure that both worked aesthetically and allowed access to the light fittings if need.’

Period properties also need well thought out lighting. Melanie designed the lighting for an 18th century barn in Salisbury that was still being used to house chickens before being transformed into a three-bed home. The owners wanted to create a contemporary family space, while keeping many of the original features, in particular the overhead beams and a ceiling that at its highest point reached 10 metres.

‘Often wonderful old architecture has lots of character,’ said Melanie. ’The property might not necessarily be grand, but can be packed full of interesting features. Some people like an old house to be as authentic as possible, so for example even if it has a lovely coffered ceiling we wouldn’t use coffered lighting because it’s not right for that period.

The Salisbury barn conversion project had both very high and very low ceilings. ‘With low ceilings it’s important to get light up onto the ceiling, to ‘raise’ it, but without creating glare,’ said Melanie. ‘The dimmable lit shelves in the kitchen did this fantastically well and brought a more “daylight” colour of light into what otherwise could have been a dingy space.

‘The soaring hallway is predominantly lit from the ground up with a few fittings carefully located in accessible places highlighting the beams. It was all set off with a custom made 1.5m long chandelier.’

Brilliant Lighting,Thirsk

01845 525 664

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