See the light

Lighting can transform rooms, creating different atmospheres and even, by visual trickery, changing the dimensions of a space.

Saturday, 30th January 2016, 5:00 pm
The Alhambra ceiling pendant, in burnished copper, available from Atkin and Thyme. Photo: PA Photo/Handout

Once you’ve learnt to play with the options, there’s no limit to the effects you can enjoy, but with such a huge array of lighting on offer, the right choice for your home may not always be glaringly obvious.

Here, experts reveal their illuminating advice on ‘seeing the light’, and the top trends for 2016...


Industrial style is vying with innovative lighting design for attention - and size does matter for today’s lamps, says Mark Holloway, 44, owner of lighting and furniture specialists, Holloways of Ludlow.

“Lighting design is about to change dramatically. Rather than being the carrier of one or several large light bulbs, light fittings will become the source of light in their own right. Organic shapes and new materials will combine with the myriad, hugely effective, LED light sources, to create stunning and dramatic lighting, while standard, domestic lighting will become more elegant, compact and efficient,” he predicts.

“Almost daily, exciting and innovative lights are being launched, which showcase design talent, new materials and technology. Interestingly though, one of the strongest trends for the past few years has been anything but high-tech; retro industrial lighting is still hugely in demand. Sun metal pendants, workshop adjustable wall lights and factory floor and table lamps are very on trend, and look particularly effective teamed with traditional style filament light bulbs.”

SWITCH ON: To large lights - chandeliers, drum pendants and giant floor lamps - and materials such as wood veneers, concrete and hand-blown glass.

LEADING LIGHTS: Solid, down-to-earth style is embodied in an Old School Electric Oval Bulkhead Light, in a brass finish, £55. Diva Floor Lamp, £1,749, combines a mouth-blown inner glass globe with an exterior made from 32 individual pieces of wood, and is available in laminated oak or walnut.

MARK’S FAVOURITE: The Bocci 14 Series, with adjustable pendant lights, one hand-blown glass sphere, from £261. “These are simply stunning, especially when hung in a group, and each hand-blown glass sphere is unique, as each has different air bubbles within it.”


Decorative light bulbs, glass shades and cluster pendants are stars of this year’s light range, says Kirstin White, 29, lighting buyer at Habitat.

“Decorative bulbs - with LED, filaments or appealing shapes - are really making an impact as they are an easy, inexpensive but extremely appealing way to freshen up a space,” she says.

“Glass is another big trend, and our Lyss White Glass Table Lamp, £20, and pendant-style Liv Clear Glass Ceiling Light Shade, £21 [down from £30], are both bestsellers. This works well with the bulb trend, as a glass shade can help soften the bulb while still showcasing its decorative effect, and the overall look is bright and interesting.

“Cluster pendants, also fashionable, are a striking alternative to a large statement pendant shade, and work well in smaller spaces.”

SWITCH ON: To feature lighting - oversized floor lamps through to decorative wall lights - as a form of functional art, which will make a statement in any room.

LEADING LIGHTS: Decorative light bulbs, in all shapes and sizes, can be an easy way to add interest, with a Calex bulb, from £10, enclosing a cluster of LED lights, particularly eye-catching. Make a statement with a Bulle Triple Cluster Glass Drop Pendant, £225, (available February), or a Tessellate Gold Metal LED Decorative Wall Light, £275.

KIRSTIN’S FAVOURITES: A Rafi Floor Lamp, £35 - “I love the contrast of the brass head and matt black stem, and it’s compact and will fit any setting” - and a Porcini Table Lamp, £80 (available February).


Metallics, especially copper’s warm tones, combine with light to give a warm glow, and will take centre stage in this year’s collections, says Victoria Atkin, 45, co-founder of Atkin And Thyme, specialists in hand-crafted and artisan homeware.

“Metallics are expected to gain momentum in 2016, and that’s evident in lighting ranges. Bronze, brass, copper and chrome all provide a hint of vintage luxury, while their highly reflective surfaces dance a warm, sparkling glow around the room,” says Atkin.

“Metallic accents are great because they can be adapted to suit all tastes, from clusters of distressed copper pendant lights for industrial style spaces, to glamorous mercury silver table lamps catering to the luxurious statement home.”

SWITCH ON: To pieces made in a traditional way by skilled craftsmen, which bring authenticity to an interior, and embrace transparency with clear glass bases or shades.

LEADING LIGHTS: A Castello Three Cluster Ceiling Pendant is a beauty as well as a bargain, as it’s currently reduced from £49 to £29. Floor lamps are versatile, because they can be moved to highlight a feature or area at will, and a Hector Angled Floor Lamp in Copper, £159, is handsome as well as practical. If you love the see-through look, a Kensington Hand Blown Glass Table Lamp With Black Shade, £99, is super-smart.

VICTORIA’S FAVOURITE: An Alhambra Contemporary Ceiling Pendant in Burnished Copper, £99. “I love the raw appeal of the copper coated iron shade with the beautiful oxidised markings - it can add subtle colour to a pared-back space.”


More use of colour, and co-ordinating the style of a room’s lights, are two strong features highlighted by Nadia McCowan Hill, 32, style expert at online interiors company, Wayfair.

“People are much more ready to experiment with lighting these days and there’s a huge choice available,” she says. “Chandeliers are no longer confined to living rooms; they’re being used to add an instant glamour factor in kitchens, bedrooms and studies.

“Wall lights work wonderfully to draw attention to focal points - for instance, a pair of lights flanking a console table or work of art. Increasingly, people are co-ordinating table and floor lamps and pendants, a sure sign that they are taking more care over lighting, which ideally should be planned before redecoration.

“For a more quirky effect, you can, however, opt for three mismatched pendant lights, hung above a table or kitchen island. It’s all about using your imagination and indulging your own taste.”

SWITCH ON: To tailoring lighting to make the most of a room’s size and shape. Up-lighting makes a space feel larger, low-hung pendants give an impression of height and clusters of lights add cosiness.

LEADING LIGHTS: Colour and contemporary style combine in a 10 Light Cascade Pendant by Endon Lighting, £249.60, which has a cluster of multi-coloured tear-shaped glass shades. A 1 Light Mini Pendant by Pacific Lifestyle, £42.99, is covered in faux silk, available in cream or grey and has the appearance of a flower opening. Satisfy your desire to be a star in your own show with a Hollywood Directors Table Lamp by House Additions, in black and gunmetal, £67.99 (down from £79.99).

NADIA’S FAVOURITE: Glass 1 Light Mini Pendant by Firstlight, £62.99, in aqua. “Our passion for a blue palette is still strong and I love the simplicity of the shape of this pendant, and its summer-skies aqua colour.”


Atkin & Thyme: 0844 409 9834/

Habitat: 0344 499 4686/

Holloways of Ludlow: 020 7602 5757/