illuminating your open plan space: 5 pro lighting tips

Open plan living spaces have become increasingly popular, offering a sense of freedom, airiness, and connectivity that traditional segmented rooms often lack. However, this design style presents a unique lighting challenge. With no walls to stop or reflect light, how do you ensure that every part of the space is properly illuminated, and that the lighting feels inviting and cohesive rather than stark and utilitarian? Here are expert lighting tips to help you make the most of your open plan space.

Zone your lighting:

The most effective approach to lighting in open plan spaces is to divide it into zones. In these multifunctional areas, each distinct space serves a different purpose. These can include kitchen areas for cooking, dining areas for meals and gatherings, and living spaces for relaxation and entertainment.

Ambient lighting: Begin by establishing the ambient lighting. This is the general illumination that covers the entire room and sets the overall mood. In an open plan space, you can achieve this with overhead fixtures, like pendant lights or chandeliers. When selecting these fixtures, consider the size and scale of your space to ensure they provide adequate ambient illumination without overwhelming the area.

Task lighting: In areas where specific tasks are performed, such as meal preparation or reading, implement task lighting. For the kitchen, this means under-cabinet lighting or adjustable spotlights that illuminate work surfaces. Task lighting in the reading nook or office space can be achieved with desk lamps, adjustable floor lamps, or wall-mounted fixtures.

Bamboozle floor lamp

Bamboozle floor lamp

Accent Lighting: To add depth and visual interest to your open plan space, employ accent lighting. This can be used to highlight architectural features, artwork, or other focal points. For example, track lighting can be used to spotlight a beautiful piece of artwork on the wall, or a well-placed table lamp can draw attention to an attractive sculpture. By layering these three types of lighting, you can create a dynamic and flexible lighting scheme tailored to your open plan space.

Create a focal point with pendant lights:

Pendant lights are versatile fixtures that can serve as both practical lighting sources and decorative focal points in your open plan space. They come in a vast array of styles and materials, making it easy to find the perfect pendant light to match your décor and lighting needs. In open kitchens, a designer pendant light hanging from the ceiling can provide both functional task lighting and a visually striking centerpiece. Consider suspending a row of pendant lights over a kitchen island to create a sense of purpose and definition in this area. Groups of three or five pendants work particularly well in larger open spaces. Meanwhile, pendant lights over the dining table or in the living area can delineate each zone within the open plan, adding character and a welcoming atmosphere.

Add some atmosphere with lamps and wall sconces:

Pendant lights may take care of your overhead lighting needs, but you can add another layer of ambiance to your open plan space with the use of lamps and wall sconces. Downlighting in the form of wall-mounted fixtures can create a cozier and more intimate feel in larger spaces. For example, wall sconces in the dining area or placed on either side of the living area's sofa can contribute to a soft, ambient glow and help define each zone. 

Thales wall sconce

Thales wall sconce

Decorative table lamps strategically placed around the living area offer warm, lower-level illumination for reading or conversation. To set the perfect mood after dinner, incorporate stylish floor lamps in your open plan space. These elements can be used to create a warm and inviting atmosphere for relaxation or entertainment. By using dimmer switches in different zones, you can achieve greater flexibility, allowing you to adjust the lighting according to your activities and the time of day.

Highlight key features with accent lighting:

Accent lighting can transform your open plan space by drawing attention to specific areas or features. It adds depth and interest to your space while emphasizing focal points. Decide which areas or objects within your open plan space deserve to be showcased. This could include artwork, architectural elements, or unique design features. Picture lights are designed specifically for highlighting artwork, ensuring it stands out. Placing accent or table lamps can add depth and warmth to alcoves or corners. Floor lamps are also effective in accentuating areas or features, serving as both functional lighting and striking decorative pieces. For instance, they can frame a period fireplace or add drama to the dining area. By implementing rechargeable accent lighting beneath shelves or inside glass cabinets, you can further enhance the overall ambiance of your open plan space.

Avalar cordless lamp

Avalar cordless table lamp

Use lighting to bring the space together:

In addition to defining different zones within your open plan space, your lighting scheme can also create a sense of unity. This is essential for ensuring that your open plan space doesn't appear disjointed or chaotic. To establish a cohesive feel, consider the existing style and décor of your space. Select fixtures that complement the overall ambiance, whether your open plan area has a contemporary urban vibe or a more traditional, rustic aesthetic. Another way to create cohesion is to maintain a consistent lighting theme throughout the space. You can achieve this by using lamp shades with matching color accents or adopting a similar lighting style across the area.

With these expert lighting tips, you can make your open plan space not only functional but also welcoming and cohesive, regardless of your style preference.

At Pooky, we specialize in crafting beautiful and affordable lighting to complement your interiors. Explore our range of lamps and shades to find the perfect fit for your home.