Good design criteria for residential outdoor lighting

Iluminación exterior residencial
AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

In residential projects, the outdoor lighting is often planned after the indoor lighting has been designed, despite the two being closely related. The lighting design of a home and its surroundings must always go hand in hand as the light from gardens, paths, terraces and other outdoor spaces amplifies and enriches the indoor areas, facilitating functional and aesthetic continuity between the indoors and outdoors. In this article we will analyse the main outdoor lighting areas in a residential project, the design criteria to be taken into account, and the role played by linear lighting.

Iluminación exterior residencial
AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

Welcome lighting on walkways and at entrances

The lighting on walkways will depend on the type of house and the surrounding terrain but, at the very least, it must ensure people’s safety, guide them and welcome residents and visitors. The routes close to the house or other vertical structures or the landscape can benefit from reflected light from linear fittings recessed in the ground, without requiring direct light. On the other hand, when the paths move away from the building, specific lighting is needed. A discreet and effective solution is to fit linear LEDs in curbs, plinths or other borders of the landscape design.

When flat paths meet stairs, linear lighting offers many elegant and invisible solutions. For example, each tread or riser in a flight of steps can be illuminated, and specific design details built in, depending on each flight’s structure and material. But if integrating light into each step is difficult, we can always fit linear LEDs into the handrails or in continuous plinths.

Once we get to the entrance, it is a good idea to slightly increase the light level near the door. We can do it decoratively or more architecturally, depending on the style of the home. In both cases, linear lighting is always a good way of creating a specific lighting effect. If people arrive by car and not on foot, the linear lighting’s very form directs the gaze effectively and provides interesting opportunities for lighting and marking out parking spaces.

Outdoor recreation and relaxation

Terraces, courtyards, bowers and swimming pools are the outdoor areas of the home where we enjoy social and recreational activities in the open air. Just the sound of these words evokes feelings of relaxation, fun and getting away from our routines and immediately makes us imagine a soft and subtle nocturnal lighting. To achieve this type of atmosphere, indirect light solutions with integrated and hidden LED lines in architectural details are essential and provide a general light base that can be complemented by small accent lights such as candles, beacons or other decorative elements.

Outdoor accent lighting often highlights singular aspects of the architecture, vegetation or landscape, swimming pools or water features. For walls or climbing plants, bathing the wall with light is highly effective, and Lluria’s range of fittings can provide uniform or gradient lighting, according to the needs of the material or the environment. On the other hand, the Wolf range is specifically designed for swimming pools and water features; it combines the performance and quality of Lluria’s IP68-standard products and is submersible.

Iluminacion exterior residencial
Saladie Light Studio

Less is more

Usually, when lighting gardens and outdoor areas, less is more, and the light must be handled subtly and with restraint. At night, our eyes work differently from the day and we need less light to see where we are and to get our bearings. Our vision is more peripheral type, less focused on colour, and more sensitive to shades and chiaroscuro patterns. This means we can work with less wattage and, if necessary, with slightly lower CRIs than those used indoors. It also forces us to carefully control glare and direct vision of light sources and bright spots, since our night vision is adjusted to lower light levels and direct vision of very bright lights is more annoying than it is indoors.

The way to avoid annoying glare is to find solutions in which the light is hidden, shines indirectly or is reflected; we must also take special care to integrate the fittings into the landscaping. Because they are small, Linear LEDs lend themselves to all these applications and Lluria has specially designed profiles that blend in perfectly at every level of detail.

Iluminación exterior residencial
Saladie Light Studio

Limits and points of view

Paradoxically, setting limits on outdoor lighting does not limit our options, quite the opposite. It widens the perception of space and enriches the depth of our visual field. Linear lighting is the perfect ally in these cases, since it can illuminate the boundaries of a property, the perimeter of planters or the edges of a path, perfectly outlining these “limits” and subtly highlighting them, by lighting the horizontal or vertical plane. This is especially interesting when we observe a garden from inside a home, since the play of contrasts allows us to better appreciate the depth of the space, and makes this vista a fundamental part of our inner space.

In conclusion, considering different points of view, both from inside the house and from the entrance or other significant spots in the garden, is an extraordinarily powerful resource when designing the outdoor lighting of a home. It will help us decide which elements to highlight through the light and which solutions to apply for perfect harmony between indoors and outdoors.

Layers of light to consider when lighting a home’s living room

Saladie Lighting Projects

A living room is the part of the house where light layering is essential. While the other rooms are normally used for specific tasks like cooking, sleeping or showering, the living room where people spend most of their personal or family life, and engage in a wide range of activities that depend on the time of day or their habits and customs. Since this multi-purpose room is usually the largest in the house, it is essential to ensure it has carefully planned, flexible lighting that takes into account the different layers of light – general, task and accent – and that you can adapt it to each way that the room is used.

One good strategy before starting to design the lighting is to ask yourself the following questions: How is the living room going to be used? Is it going to be used for reading, social activities, watching TV, or relaxing on the sofa? Is it going to have a study area for working on a computer? Is it going to include also a dining area? Is it going to open onto the kitchen?

Let’s look at lighting strategies that make a living room work and come alive in each of these cases.

AlsinaSech Lighting Projects
AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

First layer: ambient lighting

If the underlying idea is that a living room is normally used for relaxing, it is important to design an ambient lighting system that provides a light backdrop to the room.

LED strip lights are an excellent tool for creating this first general lighting layer, especially for a cosy indirect lighting effect. Hidden in recesses, in decorations on false ceilings or walls, or even on top of tall furniture, LED strip lights provide an indirect, discreet and effective general light. Installing lights on cornices or in perimeter mouldings brings great results because all the light is directed towards the ceiling, which reflects it and creates an extraordinarily even ambient light. This kind of lighting is the ideal base on which to add the other layers of light for each kind of activity.

Saladie Lighting Projects

Second layer: reading and watching television

The best option for reading is to put decorative reading luminaires, especially floor and swivel lights, mere sofas or armchairs. Their bright, focused light creates a cosy atmosphere in which to enjoy a good book.

Watching TV or working at computer are other activities that people do every day in their living rooms and which call for almost the opposite type of lighting. TV and computer screens give off their own light, so you should avoid an overly dark environment so as not to tire your eyes too much. Yet the room’s lighting should not conflict with the screen, either by reflecting off it or generating a glare. Again, using indirect lighting solutions is the best way to solve both issues, avoiding any glare on the screen while reducing eyestrain at the same time. To ensure the solution is really flexible, the lighting should be dimmable so that you adjust its intensity.

Another more specific solution for watching TV is to place strip lighting behind the TV set, ideally using a colour temperature changing or RGBW LED strip. This helps to create a pleasant atmosphere while increasing visibility around the screen by providing the ideal level of contrast.

Iluminacion viviendas lineales led
Punto Luz

Third layer: accent lighting for social activities

Living rooms are usually where friends and family meet and get together, and often include a dining area, where lamps hanging over the dining table often take centre stage.

When it comes to socialising, accent lighting is key. This kind of lighting is often used to highlight artwork, family photos, bookshelves, plants, architectural details or anything that adds value and personality to the space and deserves to be highlighted.

There are numerous techniques for generating accent and contrast, whether through downlights, swivel spotlights or LED strip lights. Some of the best ways of using strip lighting is as a light source to illuminate pictures or to highlight the texture and material of a vertical wall with grazing light or wallwashing. Also, when they are built into furniture like shelves or bookcases. In the latter case, you need to think about how to build the lights into the item of furniture, and the types of shapes and optics, as the different combinations can produce totally different effects: from diffuse frontal lighting in a bookcase, to 45-degree angle accent lighting to illuminate decorative objects, to backlighting to highlight translucent or transparent elements such as bottles or crystal glasses.

The solution of integrating lighting into furniture, as a general kind of accent lighting, is also often used as a visual connecting element in kitchens that open up onto a living room. These cases call for more sophisticated lighting effects, especially when highlighting materials and finishes or transition areas to the living room, to “ennoble” the kitchen’s lighting language.

Punto Luz

Yet since living rooms are used in so many ways and laid out so differently, it is not only important to work with layers of light, but also to consider how they interact with each other. A basic approach would be to organise the circuits and lighting rationally, considering the different ways in which the space is used. The next step would be to implement a control system to make the layered lighting as flexible as possible and make the lighting of each different scenario easier to manage.

But if you need more advice on how to build LED strip lighting into your project, just contact us at info@lluria.com, and we will be happy to help you find the best solution.

5 tips on how to light your kitchen, the multifunctional living space

Iluminacion cocinas lineales led

Kitchens are the heart of the home; they are not only used for preparing food, but they are often the space where we meet family and friends, and even where we work or study. Some kitchens are separate and others are fully open to the dining room. Some have abundant natural light and others have hardly any and need artificial light. But, in all cases the lifestyle and aesthetic preferences of the people who inhabit the kitchen are plain.

As it is a multifunctional space, it absolutely needs good lighting. Achieving that is not as easy as you might think, so we are going to give you 5 tips that will enable you to achieve optimal lighting for all your activities. It will also help if you read our article “The three types of linear lighting in the home”.

iluminacion cocinas lineales led

1. Achieve uniformity with ambient lighting

In kitchens, general ambient lighting is often the main source of light. The aim is to illuminate the area as uniformly as possible and provide sufficient light to see and carry out general tasks. Linear light fittings can do this in different ways.

. Linear recessed or surface lights. These provide general lighting and are usually distributed evenly on the ceiling.

. Linear suspended lights for direct or direct and indirect lighting, centred over the kitchen islands or the entire space.

. Linear lights on the kitchen fittings, projecting indirect light towards the ceiling. If the height of the space and the design of the kitchen allow it, this is a very elegant solution and out of direct view. High powered lights, up to 28.8 W/m and circular opal diffusers are required to avoid shadows on the ceiling.

A tip: it is better not to illuminate only from the ceiling, since shadows may fall on the work surface where the food is prepared. You will have to fit lights above the work surface.

iluminacion cocinas lineal led

2. Precision and convenience in food preparation by lighting work areas

Linear leds perfectly solve lighting those places in the kitchen where you actually work. With their different sizes and formats, they provide ideal solutions for any task, and can illuminate work surfaces most efficiently.

The secret to designing this type of lighting is correct placement and glare control. Linear LEDs can be installed in two ways:

. Suspended linear lighting. This is a modern, minimalist solution, which works for both islands and countertops. It is usually fitted directly above work surfaces. To minimize glare, it is best to install them at least 75 cm from the surface to be lit. Alternatively, you can use anti-glare accessories or regulate the power of the fitting.

. Linear lighting for countertops. This can be integrated into top cabinets, extractor hoods or inside cupboards and on the sides of pantry doors.

. Linear lighting integrated into furniture. It is recommended to place it inside drawers and inside cupboards or pantries.

One more tip: don’t forget that some countertops are made of very shiny materials, such as marble or steel. In these cases, linear LEDs must always have a diffuser and their location and fitting into furniture must be carefully studied.

3. More personality with accentuated lighting

Like salt in a stew, the appropriate proportion of accentuated lighting will depend on each person’s personality, as well as the interior design. This type of lighting enables you to highlight details of the space, the decoration, the utensils and the foods on display. It creates depth and visual focus.

There are functional kitchens in which task lighting alone already creates a visually interesting accent. But in open kitchens, or in kitchens where part of the social activity of the house takes place, specific visual accent zones often appear. Here are some of the most important:

. Skirtings and lit perimeters. They draw attention to isles or kitchen furniture, slightly separating them from the floor or walls. It is important to correctly dimension them for proper light emission.

. Integrated lighting in shelves. Ambient light usually already provides general lighting to the shelves, but nowadays, thanks to miniature LED strips we can give a special prominence to the objects they display. In this case, the way you integrate the lights is everything. Placing a LED at the front, rear, top or bottom will provide a totally different effect. The chosen solution will depend on the type of objects to be illuminated and the design of the furniture.

Another tip: if we want to highlight glasses, bottles or other translucent materials, it is advisable to experiment with backlighting. Placing the lights at the back will make integrating them into the fixtures easier and will provide an unexpected lighting touch.

iluminacion cocinas lineales led

4. Getting the right colour temperature

Several factors influence the choice of colour temperature, but the amount of natural light present, the type of lighting and space, the feeling to be conveyed, the style of the interior design and the personal preferences of the users are all important factors.

There are three main colour temperature ranges: warm white (2700 K to 3000 K), neutral, cool white (3500 K to 4100 K), and very cool, daylight white (5000 K to 6500 K). The higher the colour temperature of the LED, the more bluish the light it emits, and the lower the temperature, the warmer the light.

For ambient and task lighting in kitchens, LEDs with a colour temperature of 3500K to 4100K are often chosen to ensure that floors and work surfaces are lit by a neutral white light. But if we want to simulate natural light, sometimes much cooler light tones, around 5000-6500K, are used. On the contrary, to provide a feeling of intimacy, temperatures of 2700 K to 3000 K would be used.

For accentuated lighting, temperatures of 2700 K to 3000 K are often chosen to highlight objects and surfaces in warmer light. But you can also use the same temperature as the ambient light and highlight the objects through the intensity of the light.

In short, there is no single rule, but each case must be individually assessed. If you are undecided, you can always resort to the lights with variable colour temperature from Lluria!

One last tip: the materials in the floors and walls and the finishes in the kitchen will affect the light reflected in the space. It is worthwhile looking for a light shade that enhances existing materials and colours. In open kitchens, you must also consider the finishes in the dining room and the general effect you want to provide.

iluminacion cocinas lineales led

5. Controlling the various lights

Given the many types of kitchens, having the possibility of regulating the lights gives you flexibility when lighting the space. This is especially important in multi-purpose kitchens, as lighting needs can vary greatly. When preparing food, you’ll need a bright and diffused light, while, for the ambience, the table and after dinner conversation, dimmer lights are recommended. This is easily achieved by installing dimmers, components that will help you personalize the lighting in each situation and improve your well-being.

Interior and exterior design with dynamic light

Bala Perdida Club. El Equipo Creativo
Bala Perdida Club. El Equipo Creativo

The notion that artificial light can only be switched on or off is now a thing of the past. Dynamic lighting has come to stay, thanks to LED technology and its control systems. But what is dynamic light? Well, its lighting that can vary and change, to better adapt to the room or the needs of the people, through changes in colour temperature, intensity and even chromatic spectrum.

Restaurante Zela. Londres. BMLD.
Zela Restaurant. London. BMLD.

Natural light as a benchmark
Sunlight is dynamic by nature, transforming its composition and distribution throughout the day, with changing speeds and patterns that we as humans find fascinating. In indoor spaces, the distribution of natural light is made up of diffused light and reflected light, which is redistributed on surfaces in a complex way, thanks to refraction and reflection. Fortunately, LED technology now allows us to reproduce and reinterpret the dynamic nature of natural light both indoors and outdoors.

Lluria Xperience reMM
Lluria Xperience. reMM

Benefits
Static lighting affects the way we perceive our environment, whereas dynamic lighting has the added ability to influence our emotions and sensations. Because it is flexible and customisable, it helps create comfortable, adaptable spaces that are more centred on the human being. Dynamic light also provides more experience- and sensory spaces, whether by amplifying our feelings, as in commercial shops, concerts and events, or by helping us to reconnect with ourselves, in more private and relaxing spaces, where the changes in brightness and tone can generate feelings of wellbeing. When dynamic lighting imitates the natural rhythm of the day and night, it helps to improve our inner biological clocks.

But what are the most common applications of dynamic lighting?

Vivienda particular. Bellaterra. Vié iluminación.
Private house. Bellaterra, Barcelona. Vié iluminación.

Connecting with the outdoors / Imitating daylight
A paradigmatic case of this would be an office, where the quality of natural light is fundamental, according to WELL certification standards. Dynamic lighting can adapt to the tasks and needs of each user, making for better attention and concentration.

For industrial work, dynamic lighting ensures the workers’ state of alertness and concentration, fostering greater safety.

Similarly, in the school setting, it has been proven that students’ performance improves significantly under dynamic lighting. The youngest children particularly benefit from a type of lighting that supports their activity and rest periods.

And in homes that lack natural light, the changing patterns of the lighting help the people to feel more connected with the outside world.

Hotel SB Glow. inSense + Alado Studio

Achieving flexibility in use
In places like the hotel lobbies, event reception halls, multipurpose halls and auditoriums, dynamic lighting can quickly transform and adapt the spaces to the specific type of event or to new uses, and it is unquestionably an advantage when it comes to selling services.

Restaurante Origen. Ainara Arevalo
Restaurante Origen. Ainara Arevalo

Changing the mood or the perception of the space
A simple change in intensity or colour temperature can have an enormous effect on our perception. In the case of entertainment establishments, restaurants and bars, the variations throughout the day, with brighter and more energetic light during the hours of sunlight and a more diffused and warmer light from sunset onward, for example, can have a direct effect on users and their consumption habits.

Museo Egipcio Barcelona
Museo Egipcio Barcelona

Highlighting products, objects and works of art
In commercial and leisure and entertainment sites, shop windows and hospitality centres, yet also in museums, the use of dynamic lighting, whether in white or other colours, enables us to emphasise the objects on display, guide the visitor and communicate brand identity. It also enables us to evoke a given mood or recreate an inspiring environment, reinforcing the story that is being told. In commercial architecture, LED lighting can be truly dynamic, allowing for virtually infinite variations in colour temperature, colour reproduction and saturated colour.

Roca Gallery. Barcelona. inSense
Roca Gallery Barcelona. inSense

Dynamic lighting for outdoors and façades
The advantage of implementing dynamic lighting in urban spaces is its capacity to generate a visually more alluring and sustainable setting. Though it is advisable to avoid bombarding the senses when calling people’s attention, dynamic lighting improves the use of the spaces, and cities are opting for permanent and temporary lighting installations, thanks to their ability to attract visitors.

Lluria Xperience. reMM
Lluria Xperience. reMM

Lighting and music
The design of dynamic lighting is closely related to music, as a sequence of dynamic patterns, rhythms, phrases and events that take place in time. Moreover, light and sound are two materials that when brought together mutually reinforce one another and enhance our sensory experience. As a result, it is hard to find music without dynamic lighting, which is essential at concerts, events and discotheques.

BGA Ganjilk Mall.
Ganjlik Mall. Lighting Design Collective

How to design dynamic lighting
Dynamic lighting requires careful planning to ensure that it satisfies the needs of the people, the space and the intended uses of the space. It is a detailed process that will generate a flexible space envisaged to improve the human experience; a space that can be adapted to new uses and new technologies. The idea is not to play with flashy lighting effects that can ultimately become tiresome, but rather to plan out a lighting that provides real added value to the space and the users.

Hence, the first step is to understand the needs of both the space and the user. Next, the different settings of the space must be defined, documenting and discussing them with the client who will be using the space. The following step is to decide on the most suitable type of dynamic lighting and the control system, as well as defining whether the dynamism will be automatic or whether it will require some sort of user interaction. Finally, the envisaged settings will be viewed, making any necessary adjustments during construction.