Our Big Build: Let there be light

When planning a renovation, considering the lighting is something not to be overlooked, or, ahem, be in the dark about.

The day an electrician turned up (unexpectedly) to ask where each wire needed to be on our framework for sockets and lighting, I was relieved we had somewhat discussed what we thought we’d like, but also slightly panicked that I might get it all wrong. No going back, right?

So, here’s some top tips to share with you…

1. Optimise natural light. Going from 4 walls and a ceiling made from transparent material, to bricks and mortar, I was worried we would lose a lot of the natural light we loved in the existing space. We did consider a wall of bi-fold doors, but that is a huge sacrifice of work surfaces, if you don’t have an enormous area to work with (or, the right layout). We therefore decided against them. Our kitchen plan also meant sacrificing the window panels adjacent to the patio doors, leaving just the windows and french door panels, plus the VELUX windows our architect had drawn into our plans. The VELUX windows do an amazing job of making the room light in daytime hours, and well ventilated (they open of course, which was a huge bonus this summer).

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When open, the air flow through the whole room is a comfortable breeze, and the girls love looking up at the clouds whilst enjoying their breakfast! image

We sourced our VELUX windows through our builder, but you can purchase them via www.roofblinds.co.uk. We purchased our VELUX pole online, and are thinking at looking into blinds for next summer, both of which can be purchased from Itzala online.

2. Practical lighting. There will be times you need extreme lighting. Kids doing their homework, looking for the earring back you dropped on the floor. Reading the small print on an important document. We found spotlights to be the best solution for this. We installed two rows of 5 across the ceiling, which is sufficient light to be seen from outer space.

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3. Mood lighting: The over island pendant. Lighting in option two will blind you in the 2 am hunt for a Calpol syringe, or the 5am warming of bottles. It’s also a bit harsh on the senses if you want a calm environment. The perfect option for our design, with an island, or with any focal point in a room, is the oh so popular pendant light. It’s popular for a reason… This creates a setting of kitchen dreams, perfect for chatting with friends, or the hubster over a bottle of wine.

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4. Under cupboard lighting. The lighting described in 2 will be problematic for your work areas if they have cupboards above them, as this will create a shadow in the areas you need light the most.  The pendant light probably won’t cut it when you’re cutting up onions either. We toyed with putting in under cupboard lights later, but the electrician thought we were mad not to have them wired in at the mains, so we took his advice and went for it. We are so glad we made that decision. We picked ours up from Howdens and are very pleased with them.

5. Hood lighting. Very similar to item 4… But you can’t wire in lights above the cooker if there’s no surface…just make sure your hood has lights. Most do, but worth checking.

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6. Outdoor lighting. Again, if you have a sparky in your home wiring up the essentials, it’s a great opportunity to think about lights on the exterior of the building. Easy to be overlooked, and you’ll be kicking yourself later – especially if you aren’t handy Andy like Mr G. We grabbed a pair of movement sensor lamps from B&Q and the guys got them installed in no time at all.

Have fun choosing your lighting options…and above all, be prepared for that electrician when he turns up!

x MMT

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