Choosing bulbs and shades

The right bulb or shade makes all the difference to your lighting: choosing different bulbs or a smart new shade is an inexpensive way to brighten up an existing scheme.

Shades need some careful thought before you buy – it is important to try and see a shade in the shop actually in use over a lighted bulb. This is the only sure way to see what kind of light the colour and texture of the shade is going to create. The depth of colour can be very deceptive and you may find, for example, that an open-weave basket shade creates a strong pattern on the wall, or that a heavily patterned fabric is concealing too much light for your needs.

There are some commonsense points to bear in mind when buying bulbs – the basic one is to make sure that the wattage is not too high for the shade, to avoid overheating. Besides the usual household filament bulb, there are now many different types and shapes designed for special fittings, so you may need to check with the shop that you are buying the right one. There are mushroom shapes for use with shallow fittings, a large range of reflector lamps for spots and down-lighters and all kinds of interesting ornamental bulbs for wall bracket lights.

Coloured lightbulbs can be useful too, in the standard shades of blue, red, yellow, green and pink. A simple way dramatically to change the mood in the living room, they are especially good for party lighting.

Coloured light bulbs look best when they are not used as a main light source. And it is generally true that green is relaxing, that red acts as a stimulant and that blue is a rather clinical colour.

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