Creative uses for LED lighting in your home

Lighting is an often overlooked element of a design scheme – but its power in your space can be transformational. Where many ‘quick fix’ design solutions rely on a new coat of paint or set of furniture, a change in lighting can be really affordable, and completely change the ambiance of a room. 

Whereas primary and secondary lighting through the purchase of extra lamps and light fittings can be expensive, a modern and innovative way to jazz up your aesthetic is to use LED strip lighting. Acting much like secondary lighting, LED strips can be a great feature – whether to change up your look, alter the ambiance or provide great illumination for activity-specific areas.

LED lighting strips offer a really versatile solution that can be used in so many creative ways around the home, from uplighting and downlight to splashback lighting.

Read on as this Electrical Supermarket blog highlights some creative ways to shed new light in your home, and revolutionise your decor on a really tight budget.

 

Living Room & Dining Room

These spaces are often multifunctional. Where you’ll likely want a relaxed living room for evenings in, in front of a film, it’s likely also the place where you congregate when friends and family visit. It might be where you work in the daytime if you don’t have a study. It might be where the kids do their homework. Ditto with dining, but obviously both formal and informal meals likely take place there, too. 

Secondary lighting (such as table lamps or wall sconces, in addition to a central room light) can really add that sense of calm and relaxation that living rooms, in particular, thrive on. When the evening draws in, it tends to be much more relaxing to turn on a small corner lamp with a warm glow, rather than flick on bright overheads. 

But purchasing standard lamps or table lamps to fit your design scheme can be expensive. This is where LED strip lighting steps in. LED strips offer all of the lighting opportunities with much less investment.

 

Lighting Opportunities: Uplighting from Picture Rails

Many traditional UK properties feature room cornicing, a picture rail, or a dado rail. A dado rail is a period feature in Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian homes, where wooden moulding is used to break up the upper and lower parts of the room. Where chair rails kept chairs from rubbing against expensive wall coverings, picture rails were a feature from which – you’ve guessed it – pictures could be hung. 

Wooden moulding features which sit in the upper proportion of your room can be a brilliant opportunity to install some uplighting. Simply run an LED strip along the top of your picture rail or cornicing to provide a gentle uplit glow to the room. This can make a particularly elegant dinner time solution for dining rooms too, offering a candle-like glow without all the hassle of wax and candlesticks.

Note: This works particularly well if the ceiling is painted a pale colour, for example, white or off-white, so that the light can be reflected down into the room.

 

Splashback Lighting: TV, picture frames

Everyone hates a glare, or glow, created from a light bouncing off the TV screen and interfering with the picture! Instead of putting a lamp nearby, why not consider backlighting the TV itself? Simply add a strip of LEDs to the back of the TV and position it near the wall. This way, the TV creates splashback lighting onto the wall behind it (the TV has to be positioned near to a wall for this to work) and creates a visual focal point around the screen, which is not distracting in the way a table lamp might be. This is also a lovely way to draw attention to a wall-mounted picture.

Note: the colour of the wall, and how matte the painted surface is, might have an affect on the type of glow you achieve. 

 

Hallways, Stairs, and Entrance Halls

These spaces tend to be the first people see when entering your home. They are also a transition space – a space we move through in order to get to somewhere else. Keeping the usage of a space in mind can make it easier to work out how to best light these spaces to achieve your goals. With hallways and stairs, the predominant usage will be upon first entering the home, and when moving through. Your primary aims, then, might be ‘wow factor’ and also usability. With little kids, for example, or guests unfamiliar with your home, a low level of light can be useful for helping them get to the bathroom at night without disturbing others by using bright overhead lighting.

 

Lighting Opportunities: Downlighting from the handrails

The handrails on your staircase can be a wonderful place for a bit of downlighting. The soft ambiance created is both aesthetically pleasing and practical. You can feel better about leaving them on, too, as LED strip lights use up to 85% less electricity than traditional incandescent lighting, and still use 18% less than CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps).

Note: this solution looks really neat if the LED strip can be totally hidden from sight under the thick edge of a bannister. Consider how the lighting looks both from the perspective of going up the stairs and from the perspective of looking up at the staircase from downstairs.

 

Uplighting from the staircase tread

If your bannister isn’t wide enough to accommodate strip lighting, you might want to consider running the strip lighting up the side of the staircase tread. This also works well if your staircase has a skirting board that could house the LED. This type of lighting is particularly useful for unobtrusive, low-level lighting, drawing attention to uneven treads and making it easier for people to get around the home without using the overheads.

Note: make sure the switch can be sited somewhere that is most useful for your journeys up and downstairs so that the lighting can be used most effectively.

 

Kitchens

Much of your kitchen lighting will be activity-based. You need bright lights to chop and dice, after all! That’s why so many of us opt for bright overheads as soon as we enter the kitchen  – but we don’t always need bright overheads to provide this level of illumination.

 

Lighting Opportunities: Downlighting under cabinets

The ideal use of that counterspace is for meal prep – but so often these spaces are dingy and dark. Even when bright overhead spots are on, our own shadows can cast darkness on the area we’re trying to see. A way to avoid this is by using LED lighting underneath your wall mounted cabinets. As the fascia usually sit slightly proud of the cabinets, the LEDs aren’t visible – but the great illumination is. 

This is real activity-based lighting, and also enables you to keep a relaxed ambiance in the kitchen as a whole whilst maintaining a well-lit chopping area. This is particularly great if you have an open-plan kitchen – sticking the overheads on when you have a dinner party can interfere with the relaxed vibes you’re cooking up!

Note: consider where you complete most of your kitchen tasks, as these are the spots that will most benefit from LED under cabinet lighting.

 

Bathroom & Outdoors

Bathroom lighting needs can be quite specific. You’ll likely want them to be splash-resistant or water-proof, for safe usage in the moist bathroom environment. It’s also great to consider what you do, where – LED illumination is great for task-specific lighting but it’s also great for an overall glow. Mounting LED strip lighting behind the mirror above the sink can cast a relaxing overall glow, as can running LED lighting under cabinets – but consider if you need task-specific lighting too! 

 

Lighting Opportunities: Highlight features and routes

When it comes to outdoor lighting, your considerations are the same. You’ll again want them to be waterproof, and they can serve two purposes – to light specific activities and to cast an ambiance. LED lighting can work to mark paths, driveways and gates, for example, and it can also illuminate features such as statues or water features. This can work to create a semi-lit ambiance, aiding to illuminate your garden in the dark – both for usage and for your sense of security.

Note: make sure the LEDs you choose are location-specific, if using in a watery environment. 

 

For any and all LED solutions, two considerations are key – ensuring a safe power supply, and ensuring a flat surface to adhere the strip to. Select the correct transformer (to ensure the strip isn’t overloaded), and where lighting may come into contact with water, ensure you’re installing products with the appropriate water resistant properties. IP ratings illustrate this – both IP67 and IP68 offer both splash and dust resistance, for example. Also bear in mind the figures for both Lumen and Kelvin on your lighting. Lumens measure the amount of light given off by a bulb (e.g. 40-60kW produce 400-800 Lumens – perfect for ambiance). Kelvins meanwhile measure the type of light given off. A middle reading will come in at around 5000 Kelvin (the equivalent of daylight). Lower measures provide softer, warmer hues, whilst higher readings create colder, brighter light.

 

Fancy trying out some creative lighting solutions? Take a look at our LED options and let Electrical Supermarket meet all your lighting needs.