Light in the Smallest Room

Light in the Smallest Room

Own up to a simple fact. How many of us judge the quality of a home from a visit to the toilet? It is often the place where impressions of an interior are made by a guest or visitor. The lavish fittings the space saving layout and increasingly the lighting are all key features. The fact is that with the onset of smaller fittings inspired by LED technology; minimalist and concealed lighting has enjoyed a renaissance.

Confined spaces are great opportunities to use light imaginatively. As technology minimalises the size of fittings our choices of fitting and lighting effect are broadening. So we can take a new look at WC’s, changing rooms, porches, hallways even lift cars!

Even once neglected areas of retail space – the changing room – is now being taken seriously. After all it is one of the most important spaces that the customer will interact with a fashion retailer. Here too lighting plays a key role!

Standing in a rather lovely generously spaced changing room in a London clothing store recently (trying on sale items I hasten to add) I was struck by beauty of the lighting. The mirror was the full width of the wall opposite the door – not quite floor to ceiling. Concealed on the underside of one of the timbers of a frame was a T5 fluorescent lamp housed on a baton and unshielded.

Tip: By Specifying a fitting without a diffuser helps keep the light stronger and the resultant reflection acts as a diffuser anyway.

Back to the changing room. The light washed the floor and ceiling adjacent to the mirror with a punch of light. Two downlights in front of the mirror illuminated the user and a stitched leather wall light gave the sense of style it needed and helped illuminate the clothes on the rail waiting to be tried on.

“When you are in a store looking to buy an item of clothing, there are two moments of truth -when you take it off the shelf and when you try it on in the store,” says Fred Dust, partner at Ideo, a business design consultant firm. “The better the retailer makes the trying on experience, the more likely the shopper will buy the item.”

Subcillary areas, for example WC’s & washrooms when focussed upon and given the time and resources they deserve; speak volumes about the host. Our approach to lighting and the fittings we choose are yet another opportunity for a message to be communicated to the user. They convey our concern for the customers well being – down to the smallest detail.

The art is a combination of hidden lighting and using the decorative features intelligently. Hidden sources reflect light and are easier on the user’s eye. Decoratively the light can pick out features to complement the style and can still provide a functional illumination scheme too.

In a recent bathroom interior I worked on. The same principles were used as in the changing room. A fluorescent lamp was be hidden behind a fascia board and the light spilled up and down over a mirror. We upgrade that successful technique with the use of recessed ceiling lighting or utilising the small LED strips behind the mirror back washing the fitting. In accordance with the IP44 rating, we choose the correct fittings to suit the position within a wet area.

Tip: Confined spaces allow us to frame our lighting picture concisely. Painting techniques of composition, foreground and background, focus – should be remembered and applied to how and where we light our space. Choose a feature to highlight; it could be the sink in a bathroom or around the mirror. Shelving can be highlighted by recessed downlights that illuminate the contents – the shelf itself can be side lit into the glass with a frosted edge and create a strong repetition of linear lit glass.

Small spaces need to have a sensitive subtle approach. Never forget the play of light and dark are equally important.

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