LED lighting is really on the rise when it comes to designing a home with wow-factor. While LEDs refers to a type of light that can take any form, it's LED strips used as accent lighting that has particularly captured the imagination of architects and designers.
Where a traditional bulb has its limitations, LED has been an exciting departure for lighting designers looking to shake up what form lighting fixtures take. Yet, while these 9 examples of how to use LED lighting are impressively architectural, it can actually be a great DIY project, a simple way to give your home a modern facelift using affordable mains or battery-powered LED strips.
'LED lamps are significantly more energy-efficient than equivalent incandescent lamps and can be significantly more efficient than most fluorescent lamps.' says Anna Salomaa of Light Cognitive. So not only is it a change you can make relatively easily at home for a modern, slick and high end look, whether used as a living room, bathroom or kitchen lighting idea, it can actually save you money on your bills, too.
Read on for inspiration for how to up your lighting game using LED.
Oonagh is an experienced homes writer and editor. For this piece, she used her understanding of the industry and wealth of contacts from the interiors world to find out how designers used recessed LED lighting in their schemes.
LED lighting ideas to make your interiors glow
Concealed strip lighting is a great way to add atmosphere to your interiors, removing any need for a lighting fixture, hidden away lighting can give a beautiful halo look to a room, on the flooring, and can create a tranquil and relaxed atmosphere in the room.
'We like to use LED strips in coves in the soffits for an even ceiling glow,' says Emily Aiken of Whipple Russell Architects. 'Paired with wood ceilings, this really warms up the room.
'Another location for LED strips are what are called toe kicks. Toe kick lighting is used on the underside lip of base cabinets to illuminate the floor space of a kitchen or bathroom. Other areas where LED is used are islands, kitchen and closet cabinets, bars, and wine rooms. Illumination around the wine storage alcove is also another great place to use it.'
1. Try a mirror backlight light
For a bathroom idea consider using LED lighting to illuminate your mirror, creating a halo affect, as seen in this bathroom of an apartment in Poland by Blackhaus Architects. Backlit mirrors are proving popular in the bathroom because of the soft glow cast on your face when you're going through your morning or evening routine.
'This bathroom mirror idea was specially designed by me for this particular bathroom,' explains Karol Cieplinski of the firm. 'The space is divided into two parts - emphasizing the settings of large-format tiles, and illumination brings the whole together. The mirror is both practical and aesthetic,' she explains.
Backlit mirrors are relatively common to find, but can also be created using an existing mirror and LED strips. You could even use a motion detector to have the mirror illuminate when you walk in the room.
2. Embed LEDs around the border of the room
Illuminate the flooring and the footprint of a room by lining the border of your room, placing LED lights where the floor meets the wall. Practically, it's a lot easier and more budget-friendly than you might initially think, you just need to buy solid aluminium profiles, and LED flexible strips that glow a warm or cool white.
For a unique living room floor idea, aluminium can be cut to length, so you can easily screw or glue into place on the wall. Lighting strips often have adhesive on the back, so you can stick them straight into the aluminium, angled downwards if you want to illuminate a dark floor and cast more light. You will also need a diffuser strip to diffuse the light evenly, covering the brightness of the light, and you can buy caps to cover the corners where two strips meet or to cover the end. It gives the room a modern look, and can help to emphasize a beautiful lick of paint.
3. Create an illuminated headboard in the bedroom
Your bedroom is a calming space, and the clever use of light can reinforce this purpose to relax and soothe. This headboard idea by U31 uses this lighting technique, illuminating the bed space in a soft yellow glow and makes a great reading light that isn't too harsh on tired eyes.
'LED cove lighting is one of our preferred details,' says Kelly Cray, creative principal at U31. 'The designs and applications available are endless with LED.'
'We like the indirect soft glow that LED releases,' says Kelly. In this case, we chose to highlight the artwork that is leaning up against the headboard to create a frame within a frame. It also provides a pleasant ambient light in the evening.'
4. Create a glowing pantry
This newly renovated kitchen features a streamlined layout that continues into the large walk-in pantry across the way. LED lighting accents the bar cabinet, drawing attention to the other half of this kitchen design, contrasting against the dark timber veneer.
4. Install cornice lighting
For a modern living room idea, the crown molding can be a great place to fit some mood LED lighting as it disguises from the central light fixture. This will give a sense of atmosphere, and act as accent lighting, washing your ceiling with light. Tuck your light strip neatly into the cornicing, reducing any need for a diffuser strip as the harsh light shines upwards.
This will also beautifully highlight the cornicing detail. Even when this is just a plain cornice, is a beautiful architectural detail that often gets overlooked. If you're working with a patterned cornice, think carefully how the light casts shadows - it might detract from any floral embellishment. This modern twist on an historic detail really shows off your home's heritage, looking perfect in a period property.
5. Illuminate your stairs with LED lighting
An elegant staircase lighting idea, illuminating the treads with LED lighting is a sleek look. Choose LED strips cascading downwards for an unbroken stream of light along the staircases, guiding your way when your home is dark, or go for a strip of lighting under the step, shining light on the step below. This strip has been zig-zagged along the stairs.
‘Warm LED lighting under each step looks more visually impactful and works well with a contemporary interior,’ says Elliot Barratt of Elliot James Interiors. ‘It also works well for external staircases as it highlights stonework beautifully.’
6. Try ceiling kitchen light
Consider LED on the kitchen ceiling for a way of keeping lighting simple, making room for other pieces of furniture to take the spotlight in this busy space. In this example, a statement lighting fixture is not needed when the olive tree takes center stage.
'In this contemporary kitchen and dining space lighting was of particular importance, and a carefully considered layered concept that offers various combinations was a key,' says Sofia Bune Strandh, CEO of Sola Kitchens, who designed this space.
The kitchen is the heart of the home, it’s the place where we gather to cook and enjoy meals, socialize with friends and more recently work from home – so lighting is key to achieving the perfect brightness and mood no matter what the task.
'LED is now so advanced that, no matter what your kitchen’s aesthetic is, there is a lighting solution for you,' Sofia adds. 'Building in separate controls and dimmers to allow for each light to be controlled independently will ensure maximum flexibility for all aspects of family life. For ultra-modern kitchens like this, cooler tones of white are usually the go-to.'
7. Conceal your LED in the dado rail
Brosh Architects transformed this modern bathroom space with the simple addition of LED lighting in the bathroom. Instead of a lighting fixture or pendant, the space feels decluttered and relaxing, what a bathroom should be, and when lying in the bath, the concealed lighting won't be too harsh on the eye.
'In principle, I don’t like using spotlights especially not in period homes as it is simply not sympathetic to the house and space,' says Lior. 'I used the dado rail to hide the led strip lighting shining upward in order to reflect the white ceiling and light the whole space as a result. This way it looks effortless and sympathetic to the period home and when switched off, you don’t even know it is there.'
The theme of this well-lit LED bathroom continues with the mirror cabinet lit up with hidden lighting, as well as the lighting on the step.
8. Use light to create a focal point on the ceiling
You can also install LED lighting like a piece of art, and give it a structural quality. In this example, the ring of LED light acts like a halo, drawing the eye to the bed which is the focal point of the scheme. The room features a lot of harsh lines, and the circular halo of light helps to break this up and zone the space.
Hoop-shaped LED flush light
Slightly smaller, this hoop is a simple and budget-friendly way to achieve this look in your own bedroom. Perfectly placed above the bed, this light fitting is available in different glows, from a warm white to a more golden yellow, giving a real soft glow to your room.
What colors go with LED lighting?
When it comes to coloring your LED, be careful, the colors that work for LED lighting are limited. Anything too bright in color can look garish and might cheapen a space. Creams, whites and warming, soft yellows are the most popular light color to go for, and stay clear of red, green or electric blue, as these colors won't be conducive to relaxation. Lighting is dependent on activity too. Most people prefer yellow light for studying or working and like a white, cool light in the kitchen where the space is a bit more fast-paced and busy.
If you do want a soft splash of color, it might not be your LED that needs to be colored. Instead, you can instead rely on the color of the walls to reflect the tone. A light pink room lit with white light will give off a subtle pinkish hue, for example.
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Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.
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