My whole life I have been fascinated about the magical mystery of light, its energy and power. Lighting is not just about lighting the room but what it does to you and your feelings.It changes your spirit, it manipulates your moods, it calms you down, it enhances your home, it energises your body, it electrifies you and it transforms a room.
Through the ingenious use of light, interior designers have been able to evoke dimension, modify atmosphere and alter the character of a room by switching from one mode to the other.
Before I began planning the lighting design of Casa Botelho, I already knew what kind of moods and features I wanted to create. I must confess, before I started the construction, I had already bought several chandeliers which I had to store for over a year while the house was under construction. It goes without saying I had a lighting addiction and it is one that continuous to grow.
On the other-hand Laurent, my lovely partner, now husband, thought I was out of my mind but I knew that if I did not buy it then I would not be able to afford it now. Naughty I know, but trust me it was all worth it. Did I hide any more lights from him? You bet I did!
I took inspirations through my travels, private clubs, hotels and restaurants around the globe. Hotels are the masters of creating moody and evocative atmospheres where you feel relaxed, seduced and calm during your stay.
My mission was to create unique and memorable lighting experiences ensuring the mood of each room had the WOW effect.
I have an obsession for chandeliers so it is with no surprise that the house was going to have an array of the most gorgeous chandeliers in the East of London. I wanted GRAND, DARING and BOLD and a blend of vintage, old, modern and a touch of industrial. I call it masculine glamour!
The statement items; I was fortunate to find 2 pairs of 1930’s Belgium Stag Head chandeliers. I dreamt about having those for sometime and I finally found them through a gorgeous lady called Alison Caroll at Vintage Wonderland Chandeliers. They are indeed magical and I recreated the wonderland feeling I had in my dreams. The pairs were hung opposite to each other at different levels and the result was splendid.
The WOW factor; Above the dining table, my vision was to get a large statement piece but since I love this lighting so much, I made it times 2. I hear you, but it worked. The X-Large ball room chandeliers from Abigail Ahearn have transformed the dining area creating a undeniably decadent and romantic feel. Abigail has been a great inspiration for me and I love her style.
The VaVaVoom moment; for the master bedroom I did not spare any creativity. I splashed out on two very large crystal Gyro chandeliers from Timothy Oulton and hung them perfectly aligned and quite low above my gracious almond shape bath by Porcelanosa and super sleek Maxalto four poster bed by B & B Italia, creating pools of shadows on the ceilings, walls and floors. Have I banged my head on them? Oh yes, but never mind! I adore the way they look.
I also added the most wonderful wall and ceiling lights from Buster and Punch. If I can call a light fixture sexy they are the ones. They exude sensuality and speak to you in a unique way. Can lights speak to you? I believe they can!
Down, up, wall and floor lights are the herbs and spices of lighting design. You can never have enough, so overdose if you can as they will transform the mood swings of any room.
Up and Down lights; the idea was to focus on the beauty of my favorite objects of desire, enhancing the details and textures of paintings, walls, pillars, mirrors, windows, halls, and sculptures.
Wall and floor lights; I call them the ‘mood heavens’. They generate layers of lights that are soft, focused and relaxing. Be absolutely sure to instruct your electrician to add 5-amp circuits next to sofas, side tables and bedside tables. Trust me you won’t regret it!
To add another layer of lighting either horizontally or vertically, LED’s strips are essential. I call them architectural lighting. They illuminate and highlight suspended kitchen islands, TV units, shadow gaps, walk-in wardrobes or floating shelves. It is a modern look but it functions well especially when blended with vintage or industrial lights.
The ‘magic’ light; the powerful natural sun light surprises you at different levels and times of the day. Skylights can beat any artificial light so think about adding them if you are planning an extension and of course if you can afford it. It’s result is priceless and moving!! Phil Waind, from Waind Gohil Architects came up with the idea of two sheets of glass panel to add additional light and drama to our extension. The result added value, additional light and completed the room.
Filament bulbs are a beauty and can transform a room from drab to fabulous. When dimmed, they are utterly sexy. One thing to consider is they are very warm and heat the room easily. Buster and Punch have developed them in LED and they look super cool.
For maximum flexibility and control, allow for sufficient budget for a system where you can control the lights on retractable switches and or I-phone/I-pad. It is like playing the latest digital games at home or off site with your lights. Laurent loves technology, so he took full control of this part. We used a cool and efficient system called Loxone, which controls not only lighting but also the under-floor heating, cameras, music, front door lock and electric blinds. I can even open the front door for you while on holidays in the Maldives; how cool is that!! We loved working with the Loxone team and prices were much more affordable than any other systems in the market.
The finishing touch; Candles and fire places are mysterious and soothing. They enhance rooms with mystical feelings infusing your surroundings with deep and restful calm. I cannot live without them! To add more glomour we added a fabulous Louis XV fire place in our master en-suite. Was it needed? no of course not but it looks DIVINE!!
It is vital you plan the furniture and wall hangings before you design your rooms and make sure you have a good budget to cover lighting as they are the stars of your home and can be very expensive. Count how many you need then double it! And if you are planning to hang heavy chandeliers ask your builders to reinforce the celing for extra support.
Is symmetry important? When possible I would say YES! It demonstrates you are in control, exudes style and shows your attention to detail. I am honestly crazy about it so everything I create has to be symmetrical. Don’t get hung up on odd numbers, even numbers are just as fab. I adore clusters of ceiling pendants and I have plenty around the house. The height of your lighting can create a lively rhythm. There are NO rules!
People ask me what I would do differently now that our house is finished. I always say I would add more lights, especially up lights. Are you surprised?
Lighting is fun, exciting and energising. The more layers, spices and herbs you add the more unique, moving, magical and mysterious lighting becomes. The transformation is limitless and I cannot recommend it enough.
The journey continues…