1. Recognise that even lighting levels (I usually call it “blanket lighting”) should rarely be your aim (with very few exceptions). Commercial lighting schemes, such as those for offices or school rooms, usually strive for even illumination because this is best at keeping people alert! At home your downlights should be laid out so that they allow you to unwind.
2. Even illumination across a room means that nothing stands out against anything else. Variations in lighting levels within a room create visual interest. They allow you to highlight the things that you want to see such as your favourite artwork or interesting architectural features and also to play down those which you don’t. The lamps (AKA “bulbs”) that they contain were designed for shop displays, artwork in galleries, etc. so use them as they were intended.
3. The things that you want to illuminate should be the stars of the show. Pick the right finish and your downlights won’t become an architectural feature in their own right.
4. Locate your downlights exactly where you need them and then they’ll do the job that you ask of them.
5. Combine your downlights with other light sources. Relying on them as the single light source in a room, particularly if this is the case in every room, creates a bland, bland, bland lighting scheme. You will have no ability to change the way it’s illuminated whatever you feel like or whatever you are doing.
6. Always use adjustable downlights – they give you so much more flexibility than fixed ones and often just for a couple of extra pounds per fitting. Don’t be tempted to mix fixed and adjustable downlights. The adjustable ones are usually a larger diameter than the fixed ones and a mix looks odd.
7. Make your downlights dimmable so you can get the perfect amount of light from them whatever you are doing or how you are feeling.
8. Use smaller footprint downlights where they are needed.
9. It’s never pleasant to stare at a lamp so choose fittings that have some form of glare protection incorporated.
10. Don’t have them all operating on one circuit. This helps create visual contrast, atmosphere, highlighting what matters to you, etc. It also helps with energy efficiency – why light a whole room when you don’t want to or don’t need to?

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