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How to Create an Ambient Light Loft Space


Taking your accommodation skywards automatically leads to thoughts of light, quite rightly in fact, because lighting is right up there with design when it comes to getting your loft conversion fit for purpose. Although light can be maximised with the use of colour, by including neutral tones and light-enhancing colours, it's the design and planning stage which really sets the scene for ambient lighting. 



Design for light - fit for purpose


At the start of the design stage, it is worth considering the use of the room and the location of any large items, such as beds or desks, to allow for the light to be fit for purpose; for example soft downlights for bedtime, natural light through a window or adjustable spot lighting for desk areas in loft office spaces. 



Areas such as loft-located en-suites may well need a combination of lighting, such as natural or 'daylight' artificial clear lighting to afford the clarity needed for shaving and personal grooming, as well as soft glow lighting for relaxing bath-time moments. 


Thinking outside the lamp can help, as many contemporary mirror and cabinet fixtures use LED technology to offer variable lighting to meet the combined needs of bathroom users


Converted loft spaces often contain niches and recesses created by eaves and supporting walls and beams. Using recesses for artificial lighting can be a way of bringing dark corners out of the shadows, which doesn't just add usable light to the room but can also add usable space too!


Design for light - naturally


Design for bringing natural light into your space starts with the windows, a key factor in planning to bring light into your loft conversion. So what can be achieved with your window choices?


  Roof light windows (also known as skylights) are the popular choice for the sloping roof areas of loft conversions. Roof lights literally open up the space as daylight can extend right into the room rather than just the area around the pane. Roof lights are also one of the cheaper window options for loft conversions. However, they can take up valuable space in the room so they may not be the best option if space is tighter than the budget! The alternative of top hung roof lights, which open out from the top, can be a good compromise as these can offer a little head room as well as good light, on bright days. 



  Floor to ceiling windows add a contemporary feel to loft conversions and can literally flood the loft space with natural light. 


  Balcony windows which open out to create a Juliet-balcony effect to a roof slope are also a good way to bring in plenty of light and a touch of 'outdoor' space to the loft, where design options and planning regulations permit.


  Dormer windows offer more space as well as light and are a popular choice because they actually extend the available space to include head-room, a valuable consideration in loft conversions.


  Gable end windows can be ideal where there is an exterior gable end wall to the conversion, as these can extend right up into the roof apex to maximise the natural light. Gable ends are also ideal for the addition of balcony areas, such as Juliet Balconies (subject to planning consent), making the most of space, views and light.


Sky lanterns can be a way of creating an additional natural light source when a loft space is awkward or particularly dark. The vaulted construction of sky lanterns has a 'mini conservatory' effect on the ceiling, bringing extra natural light into the room. However these may be subject to very specific building regulations and can be more expensive.


Design for light - artificial 



Of course, considerations of lighting sit right alongside space available as both windows and light fixtures will depend on the amount of available (and suitable) roof space, as well as the position of walls and eaves. All of these factors will influence design which makes best use of natural light through windows, artificial lighting or a combination of both.  So how can artificial light be installed to best effect?


  Wall lighting is a good way to ensure that all areas of the room can be lit up, especially as ceiling heights in loft spaces can vary considerably, even within a single room. Uplighter wall fittings can lift low ceilings to add a sense of space (and help to avoid head bumping on pendant light fittings). Alternatively, downlighter wall lights can add cosiness to high-ceilinged areas.


  Standard ceiling, pendant light fittings with uplighter shades maintain the idea of height and space in a loft room and can help to illuminate the darker corners of the room.


  Floor lamps may also be a viable choice as these have the advantage of being relocatable to wherever illumination is needed. However, where space is very limited, these do take up valuable floor space, so for relocatable lighting, table lamps might be considered instead. 


  Safety lighting may be an essential part of design as clear, unobstructed lighting is essential for safety on the loft stairway and may be part of the planning regulations for certain conversions.



  Spot lighting and recessed downlighters can bring ceiling height down and create cosy effects. With recessed lighting, no headroom is lost and overall lighting effects can be varied by fitting a dimmer switch - ideal when the room has multiple uses, such as a child's bedroom where good light is needed for playing or reading, but a dim light for night-time calm and safety may be required.



Finally, it's also worth remembering that the choice of bulbs and shades can also affect the light of the loft. Soft white lighting will add more of a soft glow to a room to create cosy feel or for bedsides - ideal for a room which has been painted in light tones to allow maximum light during daylight. Bright white or daylight bulbs support natural light and create well-lit spaces after dark.


By considering all aspects of the room's proposed use at the design stage, identifying the lighting possibilities and seeking appropriate expert advice, it's possible to achieve ambient lighting and create loft spaces to linger in. See some examples at Abbey Lofts









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