The aspect of a room regulates more than the quality of the light. It also determines when the room will be sunniest and this may help to decide its function. Dual aspect rooms which face north-south or east-west have the advantage of receiving light throughout the day but most homes are designed with rooms which face one way. In the northern hemisphere an east-facing room may make an undesirable bedroom for all except early risers but could become a delightful breakfast room which will be filled with sunshine at the start of the day. It may be less suitable for a sitting room where you relax in the evenings unless it is used by the family throughout the day.
A west or south-westerly aspect is ideal here. A south-facing room will make a better living room than a kitchen, screened with a protective awning to prevent it becoming uncomfortably hot, while north-facing rooms receive a cold, clear light which artists and many students prefer.
Geography is important too. Towards the tropics the fierce sun may dictate a cool or dark colour scheme, while in temperate countries pale, light- reflecting colours will be a more popular choice.

Artificial light

Lighting in the home must do more than dispel the darkness. It should highlight the features of a room, give general background illumination or direct light for working, or create atmosphere with soft pools oflight. Candlelight for special occasions creates a sense of theatre all its own, but for everyday use most ettings need at least two types of lighting , and busy rooms, such as family living rooms, require all four.

Bright ideas

Decorative light fitting include chandeliers and candelabra, pendant lights and ceiling fittings, wall lights and table lamps. All of these are meant to be seen and their style is as important as the light they produce. In comparison, other types of lights, such as recessed down lighters, are built-in and their purpose is mainly functional.

Most homes benefit from a combination of functional and decorative lights, relying on the former to set the scene and the latter to add interest. In a living room, recessed ceiling lights or unobtrusive wall lights will give general lighting, supplemented by spotlights or uplighters for emphasis and individual downlights for atmosphere. Table lamps or pendant shades can be added to create further pools oflow light while a traditional ceiling fitting complements an elaborate ceiling centre. Picture lights will cast a soft glow over paintings and spotlights can focus on other possessions but their direct glare creates too strong a contrast with the darkness to depend on for general lighting. Recessed downlights can be used successfully to give general light in a kitchen together with wall or ceiling spotlights or strip lights, shaded by baffles and mounted beneath high cupboards, to provide efficient working light without glare. Combine this with softer mood lighting if the kitchen doubles as a dining room.

Halls and landings should be well-lit for safety, illuminating stairways and changes oflevel, so use wall lights or recessed downlighters. Bedrooms can be equipped with pendant or wall lights for soft background lighting supplemented by bedside lamps and concealed strip lighting at a dressing table- mirrors should be flanked by lights which illuminate your face but not the glass. Study bedrooms need more directional light. Only in the dining room is the conventional central pendant an appropriate choice, hanging low over the table (add a rise-and-fall attachment to raise it after the meal) and partnered by recessed or wall lights.

Warm and cool

Conventional tungsten filament bulbs have a warmth which flatters most homes and accentuates tones of pink, peach and yellow. Silvered tungsten bulbs are used in spotlights where they reflect the light and cast a wide or narrow beam, depending on where they are sited. Fluorescent fittings emit a cool blue light which may be too harsh for the home, so they are often tinted warm white for domestic use. Brightest of all is the strong white light of halogen tungsten lamps which require special fittings. Often used for directional lights, these are especially effective when used to bounce light on to a wall or ceiling which returns it to the room as soft, indirect light - but for obvious reasons, these should only be fitted where the plaster is in good repair.