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Seeing the light: How to create a contemporary home

Dan Challinor is director of specialist lighting and audio visual company Electrikery. Here he talks to Sara Walker and shares his tips on how to give your home a contemporary feel, using  clever lighting and audio visual tricks.

Starting from scratch

According to Dan, if you’re starting with a blank canvas then there’s no limit to what you can achieve with your home.

Linear lighting gives a modern edge

“For a really modern look, we like to hide the lighting, unless it’s an architectural light fitting that really forms part of the decor,” he explains. “We use a lot of linear lighting, so the light fittings themselves are hidden, and you just see the glow. The shadow and dark spaces around the lights are just as important in making an impact – if you’re using downlighters, for example, you’ll get a band of light bordered by bands of shadow, which can be made to look very visually impressive.”

Updating

If you’re on a lower budget or are having to work within the confines of an existing room, there’s still plenty you can do to give your home a more modern feel.

“Lamps are very accessible and easy,” says Dan. “Our technical director and chief designer, Richard Mather, will often work by hiding any overhead lighting and just using feature lighting to give targeted light.

That means you have a room that feels clean and uncluttered, but you’ve still got light where you need it. In a room such as a sitting room, if you have old-fashioned overhead fittings, you can simply take them out and just use lamps.

Recessed lighting gives a clean feel to a period room.

“Another really easy way to give a room a modern feel is just to change your light bulbs. Since the advent of LED bulbs, there are dozens of shades of white and colours to choose from. Old-style bulbs give off a lot of heat, and the bulbs tend to become scorched as time goes on, so that the light is yellower, giving a cosy old-fashioned feel which won’t suit a modern interior.

Just replacing your bulbs with LED white lights and painting the walls white will completely transform a room, making it feel instantly lighter, brighter and crisper. LED bulbs have been a real innovation – at £5 to £20 each they may seem expensive, but they’ll last on average between two and three thousand hours, which is ideal in the UK when we need our lights on a lot in the winter.”

Audio visual

Once you’ve sorted out your lighting, it’s time to think about continuing the clean, contemporary look with your TV or music system.

“These days, there are three options for wall-mounting speakers – on the wall, in the wall and behind the wall,” explains Dan.

“You can actually position the speaker behind the wall so that it’s completely hidden and plastered over, but it’s best done when the wall is built. You can retro-fit, but it’s a messy job! It also leaves a portion of your wall unusable, as you can’t put in hooks for pictures or anything like that.

“An alternative solution that we’re using more and more is to hide the speaker cover with artwork. We use a great company called Artcoustic, who produce acoustically transparent canvas that comes either ready-printed with a photo, or personalised with your own photo. Artcoustic also provide just the canvas, and we’ve used it to make prints of old movie posters for some customers, to give an authentic cinema feel.

“Another way of hiding a TV is to use an automated mount. There are many different designs, and at the touch of a button you can have a mirror or picture that slides back into a cavity and a TV that slides out. Another great product is called Magic Mirror, special mirrors that actually turn into TVs – the image floats on the mirror itself. Lots of people like to have mirrors over their fireplaces, and often that’s the only place to put the TV, as well, so now you can have both in one.

Magic Mirror in daytime, ‘mirror’ mode…

….and in TV mode.

“If you’re thinking of making any major changes to your home, do get some expert advice – much more is possible than you might think!”

You can find out more about Electrikery by visiting their website, www.electrikery.co.uk

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