Top tips from Jon Cullen Lighting


Good lighting is so important in your home, and sometimes you need an expert to help bring your lighting ideas to life. We sat down with Sally Storey, Creative Director of John Cullen Lighting, to talk lighting, interiors and the future of LED. Since 1981, John Cullen Lighting has been at the forefront of lighting design, providing modern lighting ideas and solutions for every room. Here, Sally shares with us her top tips for lighting up your home.

Why is it so important to consider lighting when decorating a house?

You can make very dull finishes suddenly look exciting – just by the way you light it. For example, simple white metro tiles, if up lit behind a bath, suddenly take on a whole new dimension. The key way of lighting is to have your furniture layout first, as the lighting should always relate to the layout; what I abhor more than anything else is a grid of down-lights.

What is the best way of creating mood and atmosphere with lighting?

I always think of layers of light just like the interior designer plays with textures and colour, I use lighting at different levels. I’d combine up-lighting with focused down-lighting, with soft side lighting from lamps and maybe feature pendants.

How can you use ceiling lamps to create a feature?

I love the Jordaan Hanging Lights because of the play of shadows they create (see image above). I was challenged on how I would use them in a scheme and I decided to have them in a cluster in the corner of a room, hung low. It’s really important to use a filament lamp (bulb), this will ensure you maximise the shadows. I think they look fabulous.

How can you create cosy lighting for a sitting room?

The key thing in every sitting room is the layering of light – it should always be at different levels. The shelves in the sitting room above create a wonderful focus point. We lit them up using John Cullen’s Contour HD24 LED strip, for a warm glow that acts almost like lamp light. We combined it with a brass floor lamp; this gives a focused softness and also highlights the cushion.

What things should you consider when lighting a large room?

What’s essential in any room is not to forget the centre, so often coffee tables remain unlit in large sitting rooms. I chose to light this large leather and brass coffee table with a very narrow beam focus, using a Polespring LED downlight to highlight the flowers.

What lamp is best for beside a bed?

I chose this teal ceramic lamp for a shot of colour and also for its size. If a lamp is the only source of light by your bed, you should always make sure the bottom of the shade is at level height with your shoulders. The cast of light will then shine over you and your book, for reading. If it is lower, you’ll be falling out of bed to read, and if it is higher, you’ll get glare from the light source.

How do you light a hallway?

In the hallway, I placed this fabulous console table and I paired it with two OKA lamps because I loved the random dots highlighting the black and white picture. However, it would have fallen into darkness if I hadn’t already used John Cullen’s Polespring medium beam downlight to focus, not only on the picture but also on the flowers.

How do you get around the LED lighting regulations for new buildings?

Get a lighting designer. Building regulations for new homes require 75% of lighting to be energy efficient and by combining the architectural lighting we do with a key selection of the best decorative LED lamps, we find coping with the regulations very easy.

How do you select the correct LED lights?

LED lighting gives you an opportunity to integrate light sources, not only in the joinery but also in small recesses, because of the low heat. The key with LEDs is finding good quality versions, because there are plenty of bad LEDs out there with terrible colour rendition that give you a fridge-like flat feeling. To select the right LED, one often has to pay more but it is going to last more than ten years, so it’s worth it. Key in residential homes is to use a colour temperature of 2700 Kelvin and under, and use light sources with a colour rendition index (CRI) of 90 or over.

What is your favourite OKA lamp?

The Nuphar Lamp is so beautiful, it looks like a sculpture with a shade, making it ideal for a hallway. The Carraway Lamp is great due to its narrow proportions; it would work perfectly on a very narrow console.

And finally, what’s your interior style?

I seem to enjoy whatever my latest project is. I love the challenges of integrating lighting in a very modern environment, yet I live in a very classic house where I have combined old traditional furniture with modern pieces.

There are so many home lighting ideas to choose from in the OKA lighting collection, and our range grows bigger every season. However, the bulb you choose is just as important as the lamp itself so make sure you take a look at our advice on how lightbulbs can change an entire room.

Topics: lighting

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