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2021, blog, Design, November

How to Use Light and Shadow in Interior Design

How to Use Light and Shadow in Interior Design

Good lighting design is the cornerstone of every great interior design project. How light sources are placed has the potential to completely transform a space, from bright and airy to cosy and intimate, or from quiet and elegant to powerful and energetic – talk about seeing things in a different light!

But one can’t consider light without also considering shadow, which is the other side of the coin that cannot be ignored. Besides providing relief and comfort, shadows also play a role in defining the depth perception of a space. Juhani Pallasmaa, former professor of architecture at Helsinki University of Technology, notes in his essay Dwelling in Light: “Light and its accompanying shadow give volumes, surfaces, and spaces their character and expressive power.”

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Taking cues from the philosophy of yin and yang, the relationship between light and shadow in your space can create harmony in design. Here are some of our tips on how you can find your balance of light and shadow:

Woman at a window with blinds

1. Use blinds instead of curtains

While curtains are great for material texture, blinds are far superior for directly controlling the amount of natural light that enters into a space – not to mention, the slatted lines cast horizontal shadows inwards, which can introduce visual texture to plain surfaces.

2. Make use of subtle textures

A plain, uniform surface may not be very interesting to look at. But with the inclusion of subtle textures, such as those on wood-effect surfaces like ZR Barnwood, light can cast subtle shadows that increase the experience of depth within the space.

Besides wall textures, lamp or windows shades adorned with patterns can also cast interesting shadows, which creates a sense of whimsy and mystery to an otherwise utilitarian addition.

Chairs propped against a corner
Beam of light shines on a man in a large room

3. Play with indirect light

Direct light, such as ceiling-recessed downlights, are great for clarity and focus, and would typically be preferable for spaces where work is done, such as an office or a kitchen. In other spaces, however, you might consider indirect light to create ambience instead, which adds an extra dimension of sophistication and emotion.

For outdoor settings such as shopping malls and historic buildings, the use of accent lights to illuminate building facades can also imbue it with a “wow” factor, adding to the grandeur of these structures.

4. Consider glass rooftops for outdoor areas

For certain areas that don’t receive enough natural light, a glass rooftop could be the way to go to introduce a little more illumination. The transparency (or opacity) of the glass can also be adjusted, giving you control over how much light gets through.

A glass dome over an indoor garden

To wrap it up, the interplay of contrasts is a sure way to increase the aesthetic value of a space – and the contrast of light and shadow is a phenomenon as old as time. Try it for yourself and see what interesting looks you can create.

Have a chat with our designers for customised solutions.

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