Most people use downlights in the wrong way,
says High Voltage owner Jon Milne.

DOMESTICALLY, DOWNLIGHTS ARE the most common form of lighting but they are hardly ever positioned properly in the celing.

Nearly always, downlights are fitted by electricians or builders, who arrange them in two rigid rows in the middle of the ceiling, with no regard to what the room will be used for.

Central rows of downlights give brightly illuminate the middle of a room but the walls are left half in darkness. This might work for bathrooms and kitchens, but not for living and sleeping spaces.

For living spaces, pendant lighting is the better option for central areas, because it provides soft, focused light. This is especially key over dining areas. Pendant lighting also brings a strong design element to a room.

The correct position for downlights in living and sleeping spaces is between 300-500mm away from walls. This allows light to be reflected off the walls and into the room.

Installed this way, downlights will reflect wall colour into the room, allowing you to create restful, relaxing mood lighting – typically using reds or greens. In dark spaces, downlights placed close to light-coloured walls give strong, even light.

Plus, downlights fitted close to a wall create a pleasing scalloped pattern, which is great for accenting photographs, paintings and hangings.

Downlights work best when positioned close to walls. Not only does this reflect an even light into the room but it creates an attractive scalloped pattern, which is ideal for lighting paintings and hangings.