How to improve home lighting

18 November 2022

As we get older, our eyesight naturally diminishes. Single-lens glasses need to be replaced with vari-focal lenses to help us focus on close objects and text, while peripheral vision may decline by three degrees per decade. We also become more prone to trips and slips, making effective interior lighting crucial for improving safety and comfort alike. That’s especially important at this time of year, now the clocks have gone back for another winter.

New homes are built with modern electrical systems and bright LED downlights or central pendants, but there’s loads more you can do to optimise home lighting if desired. Below, we consider some of the ways to add year-round brightness to your home, especially in internal spaces and north-facing rooms where sunshine may be an infrequent visitor – even in summer.

Full spectrum lighting

Winter can be a depressing season, especially if you love being outdoors or suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. One in three UK adults experiences the lower moods and lethargy which come from the absence of serotonin-generating sunshine at this time of year.

As well as casting a clean white light that’s ideal for craft activities, daily exposure to full spectrum lighting can improve everything from mood to dietary habits. These bulbs tend to be of the large screw-in E27 variety, meaning they’re incompatible with bayonet or small screw-in light fittings. They’re also pricier than normal filament bulbs, though their impressive lifespans ensure they’re a cost-effective purchase long-term.

Dedicated reading lamps

We’re not talking here about trendy tripod lamps with designer shades and floor-mounted switches. Adjustable spotlights or dedicated reading lamps cast pools of brightness over a specific area, such as the pages of a book or magazine. Late autumn and winter are the ideal time to curl up with a novel, providing you’re not having to squint through the gloom.

Look for lamps which can be angled, with a small exposed light source; this is often a bank of LED filaments, rather than a conventional bulb. Positioning a floor-mounted lamp behind a corner armchair saves space, and it’s less likely to get knocked over than a smaller table-top affair.

Skirting-level illumination

Trips and slips become increasingly common as we age, while their consequences grow potentially more serious. Minimise the risk by improving floor-level illumination, from kickplate kitchen cabinet LEDs to spotlights beside of each stair tread. The latter are great for moving around at night with more confidence.

Because low-level lighting usually involves a high number of bulbs, each bulb should have a low wattage – energy-efficient LEDs are ideal (and supplied as standard in every Juniper home!). Wire them into a 24-hour timer, so stair lighting comes on around sunset and switches off once you’re asleep – or at dawn, if you’d like to keep the house lit overnight.

Home security

Building on our last point, an illuminated property is far less likely to be burgled than a dark one. Leaving a hall lamp on overnight casts light throughout a property’s ground floor – with the blinds shut, it’ll be hard for prowlers to tell whether someone is up and about.

External floodlighting is another worthwhile investment – typically motion-activated and often linked to smart cameras. These automatically record movement while lighting the scene for extra clarity (and deterrence). More sophisticated systems can even offer two-way audio-visual communications, and live notifications via smartphone apps.