Guide written by:
Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester
Whether you're looking to showcase a painting, create ambiant lighting or direct light to a specific area of the room, there's a wall light for every purpose. From LED spotlights to vintage wall lights and halogen reading lights, read on for our top tips on choosing the perfect wall light for your interior.
- Light output
Wall lights: application and location
In order to choose the right wall light, it's important to figure out exactly how it will be used. Of course, a bedside wall light won't serve the same purpose as one installed in a hallway both in terms of light output and design. So start by asking yourself the right questions!
3 questions to ask yourself before purchasing a wall light
- Will your wall light be used alone or alongside another fixture?
- Will it be used to perform a specific task?
- Will it be expected to provide a lot of light?
Classic wall lights vs wall-mounted spotlights
Classic wall light
A classic indoor wall light will usually feature a lamp shade. These lights are typically mounted on a fixed metal base and can feature a large or small bulb fitting (e.g. E27 or E14). Classic wall lights can be installed in any room of the house but are commonly found in the living room
These light fixtures are generally used to provide additional lighting or as a decorative element. Those equipped with lamp shades will, of course, give off a little less light.
Usually equipped with a single bulb, the wall-mounted spotlight is another popular option. This type of fixture can often be swivelled which allows you to direct the light towards a specific part of the room such as a worktop or desk. Wall-mounted spotlights also work perfectly in hallways and will light the way in style!
Picture lights: a fine decor essential
It's important to choose the right type of light to show off your paintings or photos to their best advantage. Installed above an artwork, picture lights are designed to do just this.
In addition to picking a suitable design, you'll need to choose the right lightbulb as UV radiation can cause damage to paintings over time. For this reason, it's best to go for LED lighting. That said, make sure that the light is not too cool in tone or it will alter the colours of the art piece.
Fluorescent lightbulbs are another popular choice for picture lights as they are able to emit a gentle light over a large surface. However, your choice will ultimately come down to your preferred technology.
Bedside wall lights for bedtime reading
Wall lights are becoming increasingly common for bedside use. Many models are equipped with two bulbs: one for decorative lighting and a smaller swivel light to use as a reading light. This is the perfect light fixture for reading in bed on a cosy winter night!
Equipped with a light switch for quick and easy access, a wall light with an extra reading light is a functional alternative to the classic bedside lamp – and you'll also save some space!
Wall light design: setting the right tone
When choosing a wall light design, the most important factor to consider is the material of the fixture.
For a modern look, go for materials like chrome or plastic, and streamlined shapes.
If you want something a little more classic – or even romantic – materials like iron or bronze will work perfectly.
The shape of your wall light will also play a role in the overall style of the fixture. The simpler the shape, the more contemporary the light will feel. On the other hand, sculpted designs with floral patterns or decorative metal elements will lend a more classic look to your wall light. Add some lacework and pendants to the mix and your room will be like something straight out of Versailles!
Picking a lightbulb for your wall light
Another essential element to consider when you're looking into wall lights is the type of lightbulb required. These days, most light fixtures come supplied with a lightbulb, but with such a wide and complicated selection of bulbs on offer it's a good idea to read up a bit before making your final decision.
Incandescent bulbs are generally the most common type of bulb. These bulbs may have bayonet or screw caps, and come in a range of colour temperatures. However, they do lean towards the warmer side so you will have to think about how this will look over white paint, for example. Remember: energy-saving bulbs will last much longer.
Halogen bulbs also come with a range of base types (including GU10, GU5. 3, G4, G9, E27, B22, E14, and B15). Halogen wall lights often feature a slim design but may require the use of a transformer.
LED lights do not heat up and are very durable. While cost-effective, so-called 'standard' LED lights tend to be cool-toned.
Fluorescent lightbulbs emit light over a wide area and are very powerful, especially when used over a painting or mirror.
Main characteristics of lightbulbs
Pay attention to the following factors when picking a lightbulb:
1. base - around 20 different models on the market;
2. lightbulb type:
- incandescent, inexpensive but energy intensive- instant light-up;
- halogen, uses 30% less energy than incandescent bulb - instant light-up;
- fluorescent, economical but more expensive to purchase - soft start;
- led, most economical option, instant light-up, can be equipped with dimmer for wall lights. However, they do emit more blue light which is 'phototoxic' and particularly harmful for young eyes.
3. power in watts (W), the higher the wattage, the more energy the bulb consumes;
4. lumens (lm), the higher the lumens rating, the brighter the bulb. Here is a rough guide comparing wattage to lumens rating:
- 1 055 lm = 75 W;
- 806 lm = 60 W;
- 470 lm = 40 W;
- 249 lm = 25 W.
5. candela (cd), the brighter the bulb, the higher the candela in a given direction (1 cd = one candle, 1 cd corresponds to 1 W of an incandescent bulb);
6. colour temperature according to kelvin (K) scale, the cooler the colour, the higher the number (6500°K: daylight; 4000°K: cool light ; 2700°K: warm light);
7. energy consumption, from A+++ (low consumption) to G (energy intensive);
8. Number of hours of operation.
Guide written by:
Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester, 22 guides
After years of DIY, renovation, designing, I decided to turn my passion into my career. Starting in 2006, in the South-West, I helped people with renovation or contruction projects. My expertise and my curiosity led me to look further into innovative ideas for myself and my clients. Indeed, to live your passion is also to transform the space you live in and the objects you use daily. My family love my creations and ideas that I bring into their lives! My favourite thing to do: use colour to brighten up interior space. But also tips to hide away clutter. Your home is just never big enough, is it? It is thus a great pleasure to share my tips with you, so that you also can take as much pleasure as I do when starting up your next project!