Wall lights and side lights

More flexible than ceiling lights, a combination of wall and portable lights can be tailored to suit all the family’s needs.

Wall lamps provide good background light but are best installed when you redecorate, as the supply wire must be chased into the wall behind the plaster. Making a feature of the supply wires – with coloured spiral flexing – is an alternative, decorative way of overcoming any re-wiring problems.

There is an enormous range of attractive wall lights to choose from, to complement all kinds of décor. An alternative, however, is to make use of wall mounted lights which conceal the actual fittings.

Concealed strip lights – in wall units, above and below book shelves, under pelmets or in alcoves -are a subtle source of background lighting and provide an attractive carpet of light down the wall. bookshelves can be illuminated by strip lighting fixed to a batten. If necessary, you can hide the batten by painting or papering it to match the wall.

Mounted strip lights can also be used to highlight pictures or wall ornaments. Special fittings, which shine light against the wall but shade the direct light from the room, are ideal for this and are available from most lighting shops.

Free-standing table or shelf lamps near the wall have the same effect and, combined with standard lamps, they create a very flexible lighting system. If you want to avoid highlighting the wall, choose one of the low-level lamps with a translucent ‘mushroom’ shade – these cast pools of warm, subdued light down on to the table for alternating the mood of a room and are perfect for parties. Some of the larger coloured bulbs are decorative enough without a shade.

Portable lights

There is no need to lose the subtle effect of your non-central lighting scheme when one of the family wants to read, sew, or do anything which requires a more direct light source. Portable table or standard lamps can give you a good directional light wherever it is needed but must be positioned carefully to be effective.

A desk lamp needs to shine down on to the work and not upwards into the eyes. The clamp-on type of shaded spotlight is ideal, and has the added advantage that you can move it around the room and clamp it on to any suitable edge or shelf.

Standard lamps can also be moved around easily. The kind with several adjustable spotlights on an upright base are the most versatile. Most are also adjustable for height.

Remember that trailing flexes can be hazardous, so standards must be sited as near to a plug socket as possible. Child-proof sockets and safety plugs are sensible deterrents to children poking objects, into sockets.

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