21 Nov 2017Last updated

Design Insights

5 ways to use lighting to bring ambience to your home

Lighting expert Sally Storey explains how you can transform your space with the touch of a button

Sally Storey
Added 16:13 | July 9, 2017

Lighting is one of the most powerful interior design tools. It can change the mood and atmosphere of interiors and landscapes at the touch of a button to decorate with light. With LEDs now lasting longer than before, it is more important than ever to consider the lighting design carefully…

1. Layer the lighting


Different layers of light can create a textured effect, providing depth and interest to any space in your home. Build up a palette of effects just as an interior designer would play with texture. Avoid placing grids of downlights in the ceiling as this will create a blanket of even light. Mix ambient, accent and task lighting for the best overall effects.

2. Turn your bathroom into a spa


Add a spa-like quality to your bathroom to aid your relaxation. This can be achieved by adding low level lighting by either uplighting behind a bath or using a floor washer to skim light across the floor. Put these on a separate circuit to dim independently or on a PIR (Presence Infra Red) so it comes on automatically. This works fabulously as a night light.

3. Create a soft focus


In living rooms, a simple trick to add ambience is to light the centre of a coffee or dining room table. Use a narrow beam downlight on a separate circuit to add a warm glow, creating an intimate feeling in the space – ideal for an evening drink or dinner with friends.

4. Accentuate architectural details


Lighting the architectural details of a room is where you create the mood. Light up shelving with either back or front lighting, and add uplights to door frames or downlights to niches.

5. Dim everything


Always give yourself the option to dim your lighting. You will be amazed how much of a difference dimming a light can do to transform the atmosphere in a room. A step up from dimming is scene setting. A simple or more sophisticated lighting control system can provide the option of a pre-set scene control in a room. This allows you to recall moods at the touch of a button.


Sally Storey, Creative Director at John Cullen Lighting is considered one of the UK’s leading lighting designers. She has written three very successful books on the subject of lighting and has been a keynote speaker at top interior design and architectural events.

Wondering what to read next? Try 'The 3 interior design secrets to a great living room' 

Images supplied by John Cullen

Sally Storey

Sally Storey