A staircase is the central pod of your home, linking spaces and people together. It should be functional and sculptural, and lighting can make a real difference. When considering lighting, the design of the staircase, construction and desired effects are the key elements to consider, along with finish and texture. In most cases, lighting on staircases isn't purely a decorative theme, it also serves a very real function in terms of safety. Glare should be avoided and maintenance considered, whilst enhancing the form can add beauty and softness.
On both classic wooden stairs with runners and stone steps with iron balustrades, wall recessed stair lights can add a real wow factor. Set them higher for a wash of light, and lower in the strong for more of a skimming effect across the tread.
Uplighting can be a more unusual way of making the most of your staircase. Floor recessed uplights have been used to wash the gentle curve of the underside of the stair, and have also been set into the tread itself for wash of uplight. This helps boosts the general lighting levels and helps emphasise the textures and curves stairs can create.
Wall lights work on traditional staircases beautifully, adding a decorative elements whilst giving a good general glow of light. Pendants can hang from just the upper floors, or all the way through the climb of the stair, helping illuminate each landing. More modern up/down lights help highlight the wonderful double height spaces at stair turns, whilst giving a pool of light down onto the step for safety.
It's worth considering pendants with multiple hanging heights, as they cascade through the winding staircase this helps mimic the sweeping lines and delicate balustrades. Discreet LED downlights can also be used to light art wonderfully of if your art is on the stairs, miniature surface mounted spotlights can be used to illuminate them.
For open riser staircases, the light source can be hidden from view under each tread. When not illuminated the Contour LED tape recessed into the underside of the step is invisible, but when lit it creates a beautifully soft floating effect. This lights the tread below as well as casting wonderful shadows under the stair case.
The underside of staircases are often dark forgotten spaces. Consider adding the same LED tape underneath for a glow to this usually dark space.
For help with lighting design and products for your staircase, visit www.johncullenlighting.com
* Text & Images courtesy of Sian Parsons, Senior Designer at John Cullen Lighting. Additional images by Abbott-Wade.
*Please note that Abbott-Wade will not install lighting. This should be arranged by each client by a qualified electrician.
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