If the bricks and mortar of your home are like it’s ‘bangin’ outfit then the lighting would be its statement pair of shoes. Pulling together the look whilst creating an impact. You can change the entire feel with one simple change, from a cool dressed down pair of kicks to a killer heal with just the flip of a switch. If only deciding what to wear was that simple, hey?
“Consider your lighting design before the start of the build as quite often the builders will ask you where you would like all of the electricity points to go as part of the first fix.”
So frequently overlooked, lighting is one of the most important things to consider at the beginning of a build, as the builder and/or the architect will ask you for your first fix layout very early on in the planning stages. Try and think about this early so that you don’t make panicked choices when you’re put on the spot that you may end up regretting further down the line.
Most of us know that the traditional central room light does sod all in the way of actually giving out any useful light. It also does precisely zero to contribute towards setting “the mood”. Now I’m not saying that there aren’t some stunning ones out there and obviously we can add a dimmer switch to help soften them, we can even use long flex cables and hooks to help anchor them towards a spot in the room that needs more light.
These are all great solutions to an existing problem but when renovating your home you have the luxury of starting a fresh, you haven’t inherited the bog standard traditional lighting design and you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want! How exciting! And a little overwhelming too, right?! Where do you start? Is it going to cost a fortune? Well, it really doesn’t have to be too flashy or expensive and there are lots of ways that you can create an impact on a budget.
In this blog post I’ve included three lighting solutions that we, along with the help of our amazingly patient builders have designed for our home. None of them cost very much at all and were super simple to create. We used a qualified electrician to do the wiring as that is the one thing that we would never attempt to take on ourselves and I strongly recommend that you don’t either. Leave that bit to the pro’s!
Industrial Copper Pipe Lighting
I’m starting here as this is not the most creative of ideas. You’ve probably seen similar lighting in several coffee shops and restaurants in the UK and truth be told that is probably what inspired us to come up with this solution to one of our lighting dilemmas.
The problem we had was this…how do we put lighting over head when the ceiling in the family room is virtually 80% glass and 20% wooden beams? Now we do have a bit in the middle where we could have attached a central light but it would have just lit up a random patch in the centre of the rug and served absolutely no purpose what so ever.
Pivotable spotlights on the beams were our initial thought. We actually bought some beautiful ones from Industville to match the wall lights that we used above the kitchen work tops, but they just looked a bit clunky and awkward when there was already so much going on, so we returned those and went back to the drawing board.
We then had the idea about the copper pipe lighting. We had already chosen some stunning aged copper light switches and power sockets from Dowsing and Reynolds and with the ‘Hague Blue’ kitchen cupboards dominating our Pinterest mood boards it just felt really in keeping with the rustic, industrial vibe that was starting to take shape. How hard can it be to source all the different elements, I asked myself? Surely it’s just a load of plumbing bits from B&Q, I thought.
Well, it took me a ridiculously long time let me tell you. I’m nothing if not determined (my husband would say bloody minded), so I did get there in the end after many a night of scroll holing in the dark while our baby slept. If you want to create this look I’ve put together a little shopping list so that you don’t have to lose hours scrolling plumbing websites when you would be on ASOS placing stuff in your basket that you have no intention of buying…just me?.
First of all, if it’s a galvanised steel finish (that’s the silvery one) that you’re after then you’re in luck as this is all super simple to find online and cheeper too. We obviously wanted to make life hard for ourselves and go for a miss matched antique brass combined with aged copper so that it was all in keeping with the rest of the metals used in the kitchen.
For this look you will need:
- 15mm copper pipe – you can get this from B&Q or Screwfix
- Pipe Cutter
- Brass plumbing U-Bends and T-Junctions (20 or 22mm to fit over pipe)
- Copper Fastening Brakets
- Copper Coupling Attachments
- Conduit junction boxes with double and single exits -These were really hard to find at the time but there seem to be loads more on the market now
- Lamp attachments in distressed bronze – again a nightmare to find from eBay. Pick either bayonet or screw attachments depending on your preference
- A whole tonne of patience
The quantity of the above will be dependent on your design, so sketch it all out first and once you’ve got your layout you can order all of the bits and bobs that you need. Putting it all together is a bit like adult Meccano and so much fun to do. You can make any adjustments to your design now and make sure you’re 100% happy before the electrician comes round as their time is money so try and get this bit right first to avoid any unnecessary second or third visits. The parts are all relatively cheep too so you can play about with the metal finishes until you find a combination that you love.
Ok, so I’ll be completely honest with you…I was adamant that I wanted a 15mm copper pipe for our design and feeding the wires through took Mr Woodenhill and the builder a huge chunk of the day. There was a lot of swearing (from them) and a lot of butt clenching (from me) when I thought I’d made a huge mistake and may have ruined the wooden beams forever, but they persisted and I will be forever grateful as I think the end result is a huge success.
The 22mm pipe would have been too clunky…I’m sticking to my guns on that one. However, if you want an easier life and less arguments the 22mm pipe is an option. You will need to upsize the rest of the attachments to accommodate that though.
The exposed bulbs shine on the beams, creating drama and casting a striking stripe in the room. I absolutely love the effect and I feel like our home comes to life at night. Unfortunately it’s an impossible thing to capture on camera so if any professional photographers want to come and help us out with that one, we’ll be forever grateful.
Like most small terraced houses, we’re definitely challenged with a lack of daylight in the middle section of the house. An issue only made worse by the kitchen extension soaking up all of the light.
To try and counteract this issue we added a bit of wooden architrave to the existing handrail, concealing a strip light in cool white which when combined with the egg shell paint that we used on the stairs and landing, bounces that little bit of extra light around the room on a dark day. I’m not usually a fan of a shiny finish paint, and this is the only area of the house that we have used it, but it does make a huge difference . Plus, it’s wipeable for those grubby mitts and paws which is essential in this gaff.
The hand rail light looks so striking in the evening shining through the gaps in the banister posts into the dining room. It is a great form of secondary lighting when we have people over for dinner in the evening too. And that’s the whole point really, to try and think about where you can direct the light towards those architectural pieces of interest or features in the room and not just a random spot in the middle of the floor.
- Our existing ‘pigs ear’ hand rail – here’s a link to a similar one
- Wooden architrave
- LED strip lighting in cool white
Again, you will need the electrician to connect this to a power source for you.
Last but by no means least, we were challenged with the restricted head height and lack of wall space in the bathroom. We added some stylish spotlights to the ceiling but there’s nothing more off putting than a bright spot light on my naked ass when I’m in the bathtub so some softer secondary lighting was a must.
Following on from the success of the downlight on the stairs, we had the idea of concealing some strip lighting within a recess in the wooden cladding to shine up the walls and create a really lovely warm light when bounced against the dark paint.
We topped off the tongue and groove cladding with a small rounded off piece of skirting board. With the help of our structural carpenter we experimented with angles to get the lighting effect that we wanted. Beginning with the straight cut….too bright! The light just shone straight out and got a bit lost in the room. Then our bright spark (get it) carpenter came up with the idea of cutting it to 45 degrees to push the light straight onto the walls.
The effect is stunning. I did a fair bit of sanding to get a nice smooth line. Old houses do not have straight walls as Mr Woodenhill likes to remind me on a regular basis so it took a little bit of effort but it was totally worth it.
Now we have our own unique bespoke lighting around the entire room for the cost of a bit of strip lighting and some elbow grease. The electrician was already booked in to plug in our washing machine power source so we just drilled a hole and plugged the strip lighting straight in behind the laundry cupboard which the sparky connected to the light switch in the wall.
So as you can see, with a bit of forward planning and creativity you can come up with your own bespoke lighting that doesn’t have to cost the earth and will pick out the features in the room that you have spent so much time painstakingly designing. You just want to make sure that those pieces are able to shine and the lighting will enable them to do that.
I would love to hear about any lighting solutions that you have created in your home in the comments below or if you do end up trying any of the ideas that I have included in this blog.
All words and pictures are by Marianna Popejoy