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Outdoor Lighting: Five Great Ways to Make Your Garden Glow!

Outdoor Lighting Guide

Welcome to the next part of Oliver Lamps’ essential home lighting guide!

How has your July been so far?

Rumour has it that the UK’s got a heatwave to look forward to, so even though there are quite a few rooms left to talk about inside the house, we thought we’d use the next couple of blogs to take a quick detour out into the garden.

In the past, we’ve talked about the importance of three types of light – Ambient Lighting, Task Lighting, and Accent Lighting. We’ve also talked about how crucial it is to look closely at the natural light coming into a room so that you can plan your perfect lighting scheme around it.

But, where a garden is concerned, all those rules go out the window. So, when you’re looking for great ways to make your garden glow, you’re essentially only going to be using external lighting later in the day when dusk creeps in and night starts to fall. That’s when your lighting choice really comes into its own, and you can transform your whole outdoors into a ‘secret garden’ that’s dramatic, adventurous, cosy and welcoming.

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first…

Tip 1: Take a close look at your garden

In your garden, natural light is king. However, when you’re planning how to light your garden, you should still look at it just like any other living space in your house.

That means asking yourself the questions:

What does this garden mean to you? What are your favourite parts?

What kind of activities are you going to do out here when night falls? Is it a place where you’re mostly going to entertain friends on a warm summer evening – maybe by holding parties or barbecues, or something more formal like stylish dinner parties on the patio? Perhaps you’ll use the plain back wall as an outdoor projector screen and hold your own private cinema?

Or, if you’ve got a smaller garden with less space to socialise, maybe you just want to highlight some of the plants, flowers and architecture so that you can enjoy looking at them from the comfort of your conservatory?

How will you integrate safety lighting into your design so that you can keep your garden well-lit and secure without spoiling the ambience you’re trying to create?

When you’re clear about what you want to use your garden for, you’ll have a much better idea of what your lighting should look like.

Tip 2: Zone your garden

If you’re lucky enough to have a large garden, or if odd angles, paths or trees break up your medium-size garden, work out which areas will look best lit up and which areas you’d like to downplay. Also, factor in those parts of the garden that need more light so that people can safely see where they’re going (like paths, steps, and secluded areas.)

A helpful way to do this is by waiting until nightfall and then taking a torch into the garden and shining it on everything that’s around. You’ll notice obstacles in the dark that you’d never realise need to be illuminated when you’re looking at the garden during the day. You’ll notice details – especially plants, trellises, ornaments etc. – that will look terrific when you shine your torch on them from different angles. What directional lighting brings out the best of those features? Make a note because those are the places you might want to highlight, uplight or downlight when you put your lighting plan together.

Tip 3: Don’t rule out ‘daylight’ lighting

Even though garden lighting comes into its own at night, there might still be places where you’d like to install lighting so you can discreetly highlight darker ‘statement’ areas during the day, and especially at that ‘transitional time’ as the light changes at dusk.

Go outside a few times during the day. See how the sun moves across the garden throughout the morning, afternoon, and early evening. Choose the best vantage point and take some reference photos on your phone every couple of hours, so you’ve got a timeline of where the shadows fall, and then you can plan your lighting accordingly. Is there a part of the garden that gets darker after lunchtime that you could use lights to help stand out? (like fairy lights on a gazebo or wrapped around the branches of a tree?) Is there a water feature that catches the light beautifully when the sun is at its highest but fades into the background when the sun moves further around the garden?

Lighting is incredibly versatile, and you can create very different effects by placing your lights in different ways. Don’t forget; you could also set your lighting on a timer so that it gradually begins to illuminate a shadowy part of your garden at a particular time of day. Using different lighting colours can make a difference here, too, so that your artificial lighting isn’t conflicting with the daylight but, instead, is adding extra detail to make your garden look subtly more magical.

Tip 4: Always install garden lighting carefully

This tip is essential, and we can’t overstate this point enough.

Garden lighting is prone to the elements, and electrics and nature tend not to mix too well if you don’t install your lighting correctly. That means always using a qualified electrician, especially for lights that are on a higher voltage.

Unless they’re solar-powered, most garden lights either work via the mains or a transformer that has a 12 or 24 low-voltage current. You can work out the size of the transformer you’ll need by multiplying the number of bulbs you want to use by their wattage, but it’s always advisable to use a larger transformer so that you can add more bulbs or upgrade their brightness in the future.

If your garden requires an outdoor power supply (usually a waterproof socket with an RCD (Residual Current Device) that will quickly break the current to protect you from harm), ask an expert electrician to install it. Once it’s safely installed, you may be able to fit some of the smaller low-voltage lights on your own, but – even then – always be careful and never take second chances where electricity is concerned (and that includes in the rest of your house, too.)

Tip 5: Don’t be afraid to be quirky

Always remember, this is your garden, and your garden should be a place where, first and foremost, you’re free to express yourself.

A lot of people are afraid to wholeheartedly imprint their personality on their garden in case it’s too overpowering, but who want to spend time in a boring garden that’s just like everybody else?

You’re not everybody else. You’re unique. Your garden should be a statement of that.

So, if you want to turn your garden into a miniature Alice in Wonderland universe, go ahead and do it and use your garden lighting to accent those details proudly. Or, if you want your garden to be a little more subdued and Zen, do that too, and pull back the lighting so that it’s more subtle and understated.

Now that we’ve got all these ground rules covered, it’s time to have fun with all your garden lighting possibilities… we’ll talk about that next time!

Until then, don’t forget we’re always here to meet your lighting needs, whatever they may be! Just give us a call on 01328 855028, drop us an email at [email protected], or – even better – pop into our fabulous showroom at 26/28 Oak Street, Fakenham and talk to us in person! We’d love to welcome you into our lighting cavalcade and show you all the exciting products and options we’ve got on offer (including our increasingly popular home furnishings!)

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Our Top 5 Tips for Awesome Kitchen Lighting!

Our Top 5 Tips for Awesome Kitchen Lighting!

Let’s talk kitchen lighting.

In our last blog, we talked about lighting and furnishings, and we know from the feedback we’ve got that a lot of people found it helpful.

So, over the following few blogs, we’re going to talk about how to organise the perfect lighting in every individual room of your house (and even outside your house too.)

By the time we’re finished, we hope this series of blogs will make up a handy lighting guide that you’ll want to keep referring back to in the future.

Because here’s the thing – when we look at a room and think how tired it seems and wouldn’t it be good if we changed those countertops, put up some new shelves, or hung different wallpaper, we’re often overlooking a solution that isn’t just simpler and quicker; it will cost us a lot less money and hassle as well.

Because one of the fantastic things about lighting is that when you know how to use it and place it correctly, you can transform any room in your house without physically changing a thing.

Today, let’s look at the kitchen.

Tip 1: Be aware of the different types of light

There are three main types of light, and we’ll be talking about them a lot in all of these blogs. Once you understand what each type of light is, it will make planning the perfect lighting a lot easier.

Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting is the main source of light, and most – if not all – of it should be cast from your ceiling. Think chandeliers, recessed lighting, pendant lights etc.

Task lighting

The big problem with ambient lighting is that, because it enables you to see the whole of the room, it inevitably creates shadows that could make performing specific tasks difficult.

That’s what task lighting is all about. Task lighting ensures that certain important areas are appropriately illuminated so you can safely see what you’re doing.

For obvious reasons, that’s especially important in a kitchen! Think strip lights and downlighting over work surfaces, islands, and the oven hob.

Accent lighting

Accent lighting is the little touches that really highlight how well put together your room is.

Think of them like fine details, although they can sometimes be used for ambient or task lighting too.

Think lighting on shelves and cabinets so that you can see your ingredients and kickboard lighting, which doesn’t only add a stylish touch to the lower edges of the room, it can help you see where you’re going when all the other lights are switched off.

When you know how to combine ambient, task, and accent lighting in every room, you can transform your home in all kinds of different ways.

You can even make a room appear larger, make up for insufficient natural light, or hide bits of the architecture you’re not too fond of!

Tip 2: Consider where the natural lighting falls

If you’re planning an entirely new kitchen, that’s great because you’ve got an empty canvas to work from.

So think carefully about how you want to use the area, where you’re going to place things, and the different activities that will be happening within each space.

Factoring in the amount of natural light you’ve got available is always important.

Some kitchens can be very small with only one window, usually above the sink area, but others – especially open-plan kitchens – might have larger windows or even a skylight, so much more light coming through from the outside world.

The same thing applies when you want to change the lighting in your existing kitchen.

Where is the natural lighting coming in, and how far does it extend? Also, don’t forget that if your dining table is under the skylight (which is great for enjoying lunch during the summer), what about when you’re having an evening meal, and it starts to get dark outside?

How will you mix and match your natural lighting and practical lighting so they’ll work perfectly together as night falls?

Tip 3: Identify the critical lighting areas

Many kitchen designers like to keep the whole space light and neutral, relying mainly on a combination of ambient lighting, task lighting, and natural lighting.

They call it ‘light layering’, and it starts by identifying the parts of the kitchen where you’ll need more light than others:

Over an island

If you’ve got an island you use for food preparation, a combination of hanging lights and recessed downlighting can be a good idea.

On the other hand, if you only use the island as a social space (i.e. with stools around it, so people can chat to you while you cook), a set of two or three pendant lightings spaced evenly above the countertop may be all that you need.

Ensure there is at least 30 inches between the bottom of the pendant light and the top of the island.

Beneath cabinets

As we mentioned a moment ago, ambient lighting can often leave shadows in areas where you need more visibility. That’s especially true where the underside of cabinets is concerned.

LED strip lights are a perfect way to fully illuminate the counter space beneath cabinets (especially if the cabinets are low, so they don’t receive any ambient lighting) and also show off the cabinet’s interior, so your favourite glassware and china can always be on display.

Puck lights are terrific for spotlighting essential areas on the countertop and also set a fantastic mood.

Above work surfaces

Suspension lighting is another handy way to stylishly illuminate work surfaces, especially if your kitchen has a high ceiling.

Under-cupboard spots fitted directly above the working area will ensure you’ll always receive bright, concentrated light. But make sure you fit them as close to the front edge of the cupboard as you can; otherwise, all you’ll be illuminating is the back of the wall!

Tip 4: Don’t forget the importance of ambient light

Ambient lighting is crucial in a kitchen because, more than almost any other room in the house, it’s a place that’s busy and active, so that takes precedence over creating ambience and atmosphere (the other room is the bathroom.)

If you’ve got a smaller kitchen, one ample ceiling light in the centre of the kitchen might be all you need.

Larger kitchens, where the light has to splash across a much bigger space, will probably gain more benefit from recessed downlighting.

In a larger kitchen that includes a dining area, confining the recessed downlighting to the kitchen and hanging pendants or suspended lighting above the eating zone can be a great combination.

When you know how your ambient light works with your task lighting and natural lighting, you can begin to plan the lighting layout that works best for you.

Ceiling-mounted lights that allow you to position the spots wherever you need the light to be directed are another solution.

Make sure you choose lights with the correct beam width, though, otherwise you still won’t be able to see what you’re doing, but you’ll look like you’re making dinner in the middle of a science-fiction movie!

Tip 5: Stay Smart and in control

As we’ve mentioned so many times before (and we’ll keep banging on about it whenever we’ve got the opportunity!) Smart LED lighting isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity that every home should have.

In terms of the kitchen, it means you can control the lights in every part of the room either at the touch of a button or by asking your home assistant (Alexa, Siri, etc.) to do it for you.

That’s especially useful if you’re in a larger kitchen where you only need to keep the lights brightest in the ‘working part’ of the space or, as the natural light begins to fade, you can bring up the practical lights without having to stop what you’re doing.

Smart colour changing LED lighting will allow you to instantly alter the colours to change your mood, too.

That’s especially useful if you didn’t feel like cooking dinner that evening, and you want to lift your spirits!

At Oliver Lamps, we’ve got all the lighting solutions you need to make your kitchen a room you’ll be proud of.

We’ve also got Smart LED lighting technology available at a price that’s very easy on your bank account!

To find out more, give our friendly team a call on 01328 855028, drop us an email at [email protected], or, even better (because we’d love to meet you in person!), pop into our showroom at 26/28 Oak Street, Fakenham, NR21 9DY.

Stay safe, and we’ll be back with more top lighting tips for another room in your house very soon!

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Our top five outdoor lighting ideas

garden lighting

Let’s talk outdoor lighting. In our last blog, we covered the (erm) groundwork of what you should consider before setting up your outdoor lighting, including zoning your garden into areas, keeping track of the daylight in your garden throughout the day, and the importance of installing outdoor lighting very carefully.

Today, as promised, we’re going to inspire your imagination and let your creativity run wild!

The perfection of pendant lights

A pendant light usually hangs from the ceiling, and they’re most commonly used indoors in places like the kitchen and bathroom to highlight specific areas over the sink or countertops. But don’t waste them by keeping them inside because pendant lights can also look great in your garden!

You could try hanging multiple pendant lights from your pergola or gazebo to make a stylish statement. Not only will the pendants add height, but they’ll also nicely delineate a dining or seating area and make it look and feel extra magical after night falls! Why not add some climbing foliage as well, with a few fairy lights strung through it to create a shimmering firefly-like glow? That extra touch of greenery will add fantastic texture and (depending on the plants you choose) cast some very atmospheric shadows!

Alternatively, you could suspend strings of festoon lights above your patio dining area to give your garden that bewitching Midsummer Nights Dream vibe…

…or why not get highly strung (but in a good way!) by dropping a twinkly curtain of string lights from the top of a canopy or in a sweep from the level of the lower window ledge to the ground to create a cascading waterfall effect?

Don’t fence yourself in!

Let’s be honest – plain garden fences and garden walls are incredibly dull. Also, if you’ve got a relatively small garden, they can make you feel hemmed in, too – especially when the darkness begins to creep in. That’s where outdoor lighting can help.

Hanging festoon lights can really make a difference, especially if the festoon lights are in such bright colours that they distract your eye from the plainness of the wall or fence. You could even pair them up with lanterns, which is also a clever way to concentrate your lighting on the main seating area instead of attempting to illuminate the entire garden.

Bring your inside-outside.

It might sound weird, but blending your indoor décor with your outdoor décor is starting to become a really popular trend. With the patio or conservatory doors open, bringing your indoors outdoors can also create a dynamic free-flowing effect.

How do you do it? That’s easy! Bring out an armchair and a side table, and then illuminate them with a garden floor lamp or table lamp. Add a comfy stool to rest your feet on, and you’ve got yourself the perfect outdoors hideaway!

Use fairy lights to branch out your favourite greenery.

Have you got a tree in your garden? What happens when the season changes and the leaves start falling? Suddenly, you’ve got a naked tree that could still look dazzling if you apply a bit of lighting know-how!

Want to know how? 😊 It couldn’t be easier!

All you’ve got to do is wrap some fairy lights around its trunk and bigger branches, and you’ve got yourself a festive garden centrepiece that will look terrific until the leaves grow back again next year. And then, with that awesome combination of fairy lights and rustling leaves, the tree will be a stand-out that always looks a little bit different every time you admire it. Or how about setting the fairy lights to twinkle, so it feels like Christmas the whole year round? Please don’t overdo it, though. Remember, less is almost always more where lighting is concerned, and no one wants to see a front or back garden that looks like it’s permanently awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus!

Sometimes it’s good to get uppity!

We’ve already mentioned how versatile uplights can be in our previous blogs, and carefully placed uplights can look terrific in your garden too. You could also use them to illuminate paths, steps and other obstacles so that your visitors can walk safely around your garden in the dark.

Try adding coloured uplights to your flower beds and set your smart timer so that the uplight slowly becomes brighter as the sky grows steadily darker. That way, you can keep appreciating the shapes and colours of your plants long after nightfall has made other parts of your garden invisible. You could also place uplights around the perimeter of your patio to create a warm glow that subtly separates your seating and dining area from the rest of the garden. If you’ve decorated your fence or trailed it with plants or ivy, uplighting can add a dramatic effect to that too.

You’ll find all the lighting inspiration you need to make your garden gorgeous right here at Oliver Lamps, and if there’s anything you want that we don’t currently stock, all you’ve got to do is ask!  Just pop into our sensational showroom at 26/28 Oak Street, Fakenham, call us on 01328 855028, or email [email protected] and our friendly expert team will do the rest! With our fabulous range of lighting and furnishings, excellent service and competitive prices, you’ll never have a better excuse to transform your home and garden just in time for the height of summer!

What room will we be highlighting in our next blog? All we’re going to say is, LED lighting is a great way to conserve-atory your energy!

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Bathroom Lighting: Five top tips for getting it right

Five Top Tips for Awesome Bathroom Lighting

Bathrooms are weird places, aren’t they?

We don’t spend a lot of time in them, but when they start to look a bit faded and boring it can really get us down.

But spritzing up a bathroom can be tricky because it’s usually such a small space that it’s hard to know what to do with it.

This is where cleverly thought-out lighting can be a bathroom-beautifying winner!

Tip 1: Make a plan

As we mentioned in our last blog, getting the layers of light right is hugely important. Even though a bathroom is small, there are still lots of different lighting choices you could choose for the vanity/sink area, the bath area, and the shower area. You also have to consider how much natural light comes in through the window. Because the windows are usually frosted glass or treated to prevent people from outside seeing in, the light is generally more hued or subdued than in other parts of the house.

However, don’t go so crazy with your choices that each separate area looks like its own individual zone. The trick is to make the areas distinct but cohesive, so everything works together, and it doesn’t look like three different people arranged the lighting!

Tip 2: Think about the layers of light

When you layer light properly, you’re enhancing your bathroom’s beauty and subtly playing down the areas you don’t want to be too noticeable. Start by thinking about the ambient light, which is the main ceiling-based light that will cast most illumination around the room. Then, depending on the décor you have, a chandelier, pendant, or carefully arranged series of recessed lights are the most popular ways to go.

Where the vanity, mirror, and shaver point are, think about the kind of task lighting you’ll use so you can easily see everything you’re doing in that area. This part of the bathroom can be the most daunting for many people because badly-placed light can be unforgiving when we’re looking in the mirror, applying our make-up or tweaking that troublesome hair off the end of our nose. Under-counter LED lights along the top and bottom of your cabinets are one way to go, but make sure they’ve got a splashproof IP rating of at least IP44.

Alternatively, depending on the amount of space you’ve got to work with, you might consider an illuminated mirrored cabinet (for a smaller space), LED bulbs framed around the mirror like you’re an old-time Hollywood movie star (for a bit of glitz and glam) or stylish wall sconces arranged symmetrically on either side of the vanity area.

Finally, think about the kind of accent lighting you’ll use to highlight your bathroom’s architecture and décor. Small spotlights and strip lights are one solution, or maybe a wall uplighter for a larger bathroom?

Tip 3: Some advice about side-mounted sconces

If you’re going to use a side-mounted sconce, making sure it sits at precisely the correct height is key.

The shade opening of a glass down-light should sit a little bit below eye level.

The shade opening of a glass up-light should sit slightly above eye level.

If you’re mounting the sconces on either side of the bathroom mirror, make sure there are a few inches of clearance on the left and right of the mirror. If you’re lighting a master bathroom, 100 watts per fixture is enough to create the right amount of cross-illumination, whereas a smaller bathroom/powder room might only require 40 watts per fixture.

Tip 4: Smart LED lighting can make all the difference!

When you use Smart LED to control the brightness of the lights, it means you can put them up high when you need to or bring them down to a relaxing low glow to make bath night more peaceful. In other words, at just the touch of a button on your iPhone or tablet, or a simple command to Alexa, you can turn your bathroom from a conventional utility area into a soothing hideaway. You could even program the lights so that only one part of the bathroom is illuminated while the rest is in darkness, or use colour-changing bulbs and truly get creative!

Tip 5: A few other useful tips to consider

LED bulbs with a CRI of 90 or more and a colour temperature of between 2700K and 3000K are perfect for bathrooms. 2700K light tends to be more flattering and gives the bathroom a warmer feel.

Vertical lights on either side of a mirror (like that old Hollywood look we mentioned a moment ago) are fabulous for applying make-up because they provide maximum light coverage without casting shadows. Also, when natural light isn’t an option, LED is the best kind of lighting to use for applying make-up because it projects evenly across your face. Never use yellow, rose, or fluorescent lighting when you’re putting your slap on!

Want to make the tub area special? Use a sconce, because the light from an overhead fixture can often be too harsh if it isn’t diffused or directed carefully.

Always stay safe and keep to the electrical safety regulations. All bathroom fixtures must be waterproof, and the IP rating for each fixture can be different according to where in the bathroom it’s going to be used. (IP means ‘Ingress Protection’ and is the level at which the fixture is protected against moisture and dirt.) For example, only full submersible IP67 fittings must be used inside the bath or shower basin; the area directly above the bath or shower requires IP65 fittings, and fittings placed outside the perimeter of the bath or shower and to a certain height from the floor must have a rating of at least IP44.

Please note, this advice is for rough guidance only because standards and requirements change all the time. Always seek the advice of a qualified electrician before installing new lighting fixtures in your bathroom.

And there you have it – Oliver Lamps’ top 5 tips for awesome bathroom lighting! I wonder what room we’ll be looking at next time? You’ll have to come back in a couple of weeks to find out!

In the meantime, don’t forget Oliver Lamps are always here with the best lighting and home furnishings deals and the friendliest expert service. To find out more, give our friendly team a call on 01328 855028, drop us an email at [email protected], or, even better (because we’d love to meet you in person!), pop into our showroom at 26/28 Oak Street, Fakenham, NR21 9DY.

Stay safe and see you again soon!

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Great lighting and fantastic furnishings = the perfect combination!

lighting for lockdown

When it comes to lighting, not all furnishings are created equal.

Take a look around your room right now. What do you see?

I’m being lazy and writing this on a laptop in my living room, so the first things I see are a fabric couch (sort of maroon coloured, still not sure why I chose that), an old wooden trunk we use as a coffee table, a grey rug, and dark textured wallpaper with butterflies on it. The butterflies are in lots of different colours, but predominantly red, blue and gold.

The first thing I’m thinking?

It’s time to spruce things up and buy some new furnishings at Oliver Lamps!

I’m adding that to my ‘To Do’ list.

The second thing I’m thinking?

If I look carefully, I can see how the light complements each of those different materials and surfaces very differently.

If you’re doing this with me, looking at your own living space, I bet you’re probably noticing that too.

Why does light behave in different ways with different materials?

Think ‘Transparent’, ‘Translucent’, and ‘Opaque’.

We all know that materials we can see through are called ‘transparent’. That’s because they transmit light, like the clear glass in the living room window.

Materials that transmit some light, but you can’t see through them clearly, are called ‘translucent’ like the frosted glass in the bathroom window.

Materials that absorb (block) light are called ‘opaque’. Because the light can’t pass through them, opaque materials create shadows. All the furnishings I’m looking at right now are opaque, including the fabric that’s covering the couch.

When a material absorbs light, it’s changing the light energy to heat energy. There’s currently sun coming through the window (or more likely a UFO, considering the summer we’ve had so far), and the sunlight is warming the arm of the couch. The sunlight is also reflecting off the texture and colours in the wallpaper and causing small shadows. Because the wallpaper is dark with a rough surface, it’s absorbing more of the sunlight than the grey rug. If I touch the wallpaper, that will be warm too.

That’s because light behaves in different ways with different materials.

Ever wondered why the sky is blue?

That’s because the light from the sun is made up of all the colours in the rainbow. As it hits all the different particles that make up our atmosphere, the light scatters in every direction. Blue light has a shorter wavelength than red light, so it scatters much more than red light does. When we look at the sky, we’re looking at all the places that blue light is scattering from.

In which case, when I look at the blue sky, why are the clouds white?

The clouds are white because the water droplets inside the clouds are much larger than the wavelengths of sunlight passing through them. That means the sunlight scatters differently through the large water droplets than it does through the microscopic particles of nitrogen and oxygen in our atmosphere, and so the clouds appear white.

Cool. Thanks for the science lesson, but what does all this have to do with my furnishings?

Because when you understand how light works on different materials, it’s much easier to pair your lighting and furnishings together to create the perfect ambience.

Every room should have a mix of lighting, including overhead, accent and task lights. The right combination of lighting can lift our mood, give us more energy, relax us, or make us more productive. That’s what makes light such a powerful thing.

For example, using downlighting in your living room gives a gentle wash to your walls and curtains, and the textures of those materials make the brightness feel warmer. Tonight, close the curtains, plug in a floor lamp, and see how the soft light that bounces off the ceiling gives those textures and shadows a cosier feeling.

Every room in our house is made up of different furnishings and materials. In the case of a living room, when we create a contrast between the light at the centre of the room and the light around the room’s edges, the interplay between dark and light gives the room life. Without it, everything looks dull and boring. Creating that interplay between dark and light isn’t hard to do. You just have to look at your furnishings and the layout of your room very carefully.

It’s the same in a bedroom. A bedroom should be calming and restful, but if the overhead light or bedside lights are glaring, or reflect off objects that bounce the light back into our eyes, it’s not a relaxing effect. Think about what your bedroom lights are doing. Think about the material and colour of your light shades and how your lights are positioned. Installing discreet up-lights in the corners of the bedroom can work great.

Have you got an empty corner in your living room or bedroom or a space on the perimeter of the room that just looks awkward because you don’t know what to do with it?

A trick that a lot of interior designer’s use is to transform that space with an oversized floor lamp. When you choose a lamp that complements the surrounding area (in other words, don’t just bring in a lamp from the garage and hope it will work!), that lost and empty corner will instantly become part of your room design.

A quick tip about lamp shades

A lampshade does two things. It protects our eyes from the glare of the light bulb and directs the bulb’s light into the room. Lampshades come in different materials. For example, a common type of lampshade for a floor lamp uses loosely weaved cloth or paper to block light horizontally.

There are three common types of lampshade assemblies – Spider, Uno, and Clip-On. These assemblies (especially clip-on) often create shadows and hot spots because of the kind of clips the manufacturers use. An excellent way to eliminate these is by using frosted or soft-white bulbs.

Also, make sure you position the lampshade so that it’s straight and its seams are hidden.

We hope that our very brief crash course on lighting and furnishings has given you plenty to think about! If you’ve got any questions, just drop us an email or comment on our Facebook page, and we’ll do our very best to answer them for you.

In the meantime, don’t forget that we always have a superb range of lighting and soft furnishings at Oliver Lamps. Why not pop into our shop to see them for yourself?

See you again soon!

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Home furnishings! Go on, treat yourself

Norfolk home furnishings

Let’s talk about home furnishings! But first, thank you to everyone who responded so brilliantly to our last blog about pets and lighting, and especially to the story about Barley and his nightlight!

We hope you enjoyed Barley’s story as much as we enjoyed sharing it with you. He’s suddenly become quite the celebrity since the blog was published; in fact, he’s working on his paw-tograph right now. It’s important to get it right, and it isn’t easy to sign a paw-tograph when you’re in a nightclub with your sunglasses on, so Barley’s putting in the practice so that he doesn’t disappoint his fans. 😊

Luckily, even though lockdown’s easing, it looks like there’ll still be quite a while to go before his first official public appearance, but you might see him in our shop from time to time if you’re very lucky!

Seriously, though, it’s lovely to know Barley’s story connected with so many people. If your pet ever has a difficult time and needs some help calming down when you’re asleep or not around, we hope you’ll remember Barley and his nightlight buddy. Who knows, it might help your pet feel better too!

In the meantime, we’ve been so inspired by all the talk about pets that we’ve stocked up on some beautiful new furnishings to continue our animal theme. You might have seen some photographs of our in-store display on our Facebook page.

Why stock home furnishings?

The thing is, although we’ll never stop being the UK’s premier LED light specialists, we’re also pretty handy with interior design at Oliver Lamps! That’s why, during the lockdown, we partnered up with some of East Anglia’s very best craftspeople and home furnishings experts so that we can offer you the most gorgeous luxury items at extremely generous non-luxury prices! We’ve always wanted to do as much as we can to support other small businesses, as well as provide you with the kind of high-quality, lovingly designed and produced items that only artisans who are passionate about what they do can make, and now some of those products are finally here.

We’ve also been surprised by how many of our customers love bees! Our fabulous bee cushions created such a buzz they flew out the door faster than a yellow-and-black-striped Usain Bolt being chased by the honey monster! If you missed out (and we were sad to hear that quite a few of you did), please keep checking back in because we’re doing our very best to source some more.

However, if you’ve got a soft spot for birds, parrots, hares, and flowers, we’ve still got lots of cushions here that will make your day. They’re outstanding quality and great to snuggle up to (ask Barley!) and, at just £15 each, we’d recommend snapping them up before stocks run out.

Don’t forget your lampshades

In other animal-themed news, our unique handcrafted lampshades from our friends at Franklin Furnishings have been a massive hit, especially the dachshund lampshade with a price that’s almost as small as the cute little fellas covering it (£35). Plus, we’ve got a wonderful collection of rugs and throws on offer at £20 and £15 respectively, and now that everyone’s starting to go outside a bit more, we’re also stocking some fantastic duck or tortoise decorative door stops (£12)! They’re all in our shop at 26/28 Oak Street, Fakenham, right now, and we’ve got full social distancing and COVID-19 safety measures in place, so why not drop in and take a look? We’d love to see you, and although our coffee machine is still unfortunately out of bounds (for very obvious reasons!), you’re always guaranteed an extremely warm welcome.

Oh, and while you’re here, why not pick up a stylish money-and-energy-saving LED light bulb (or two, or three, or a dozen) as well?! We’ve currently got a great offer on decorative LED bulbs – they’re only £3 each while stocks last – so don’t miss out!

In our next blog, we’ll be talking about pairing lighting and home furnishings together to create the perfect ambience. We look forward to seeing you then!

P.S. Barley says, “Woof!”

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Is LED lighting safe for our pets?

pets at home

In honour of National Pet Month (April 1 – May 3), we thought this would be a great time to introduce you to a very special member of the Oliver Lamps family and talk about how lighting can affect our precious pets.

The beautiful puppy in the photograph (okay, he’s not really a puppy anymore, but that’s how we think of him) is called Barley. As you can see, Barley’s doing pretty much his favourite thing – sleeping! – and, if you look very carefully behind him, you’ll catch a tiny glimpse of Barley’s new best friend… the LED nightlight that’s been helping him feel safe and calm since his older sister sadly passed away last Christmas.

When Poppy died, Barley had a heart-breaking time trying to cope without her. He was anxious and couldn’t rest and regularly had lots of ‘accidents’ in the night. But then his human mum Lucy, who you may well have met if you’ve ever popped into our shop, had the bright idea of taking one of our LED nightlight’s home to see if it would help. From that very first night, Barley’s had no more accidents, and he’s gradually returned to his happy, contented self again. Now, if he could bring down the volume on his snoring, it would definitely be a win-win!! 😊

Barley is cute, furball proof of how LED lighting can be just as beneficial to our pets as it can be to us. Some people worry that LED’s might be harmful to our four-legged friends, but they really shouldn’t. Safety-wise, LED’s are just as good for them as they are for us, plus they don’t get hot like other bulbs, so your pets won’t risk hurting themselves if they get too close. Also, suppose you’re worried about your cat, dog, turtle or pink fairy armadillo (although other pet species are available (and there really is an animal called a pink fairy armadillo)) straining their eyes by spending too long in the artificial light. In that case, you can always customise your LED smart lighting to reduce its brilliance or change it to a more restful colour.

However, there are a few things to think about where pets and smart electronics are concerned.

Many pets are far more sensitive to light and noise than humans.

You know how, if someone blows into a dog whistle, you can’t hear it, but suddenly every pooch inside a ten-mile radius is suddenly digging up your front garden? Well, it’s almost the same where electronics are concerned. To us, our T.V. and computer might not make much of a sound, but to some cats and dogs, they can sound like a rock concert. For example, did you know that dogs are sensitive to sound frequencies up to 45,000 Hz (cycles/second), and cats can be sensitive to sound frequencies up to 64,000 Hz? When you consider that the hearing sensitivity of humans is between 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, you can understand why your cat runs for cover whenever you turn your hairdryer on! Even the ultra-frequencies produced by smoke alarms can make some animals really agitated.

The other thing to remember is that pets can be far more sensitive to flickering light than we are, and all types of light are prone to flickering now and again. That’s why it’s essential to buy high-quality LED bulbs (the kind we stock at Oliver Lamps) because low-quality bulbs made with cheaper parts are much more likely to produce troublesome flicker. That won’t only be annoying for you; it can also have an uncomfortable strobe-like effect on your animals. To get some idea of your pet’s sensitivity, watch how they behave in front of your LCD TV (which has a similar flicker to an LED light.) Some pets won’t look at an LED TV because the picture just doesn’t seem real. However, we also know about a cat whose favourite place is on the soundbar with his nose pressed to the screen. Just like humans, our animal friends will always keep us guessing!

P.S. Never use high-power blue or green U.V. laser pointers around your pets because it can damage their eyes.

What else?

If your pet does seem to have a low tolerance to lighting or electronics, try unplugging all your devices when you’re not using them (which will save you money as well; leaving unused devices permanently on ‘sleep’ can be a real energy drain.) You could even make one room in your house utterly tech-free, so they’ve got somewhere relaxing to go.

In the interests of transparency, there is anecdotal evidence that suggests certain smaller animals (rabbits and chickens) may, on very rare occasions, be affected by LED lighting, but we’re not aware of any research that has backed that up. As with everything else to do with your animal’s welfare, always consult your vet if you’re ever in doubt.

And there you have it! Barley says woof, and thanks you for reading. Please don’t forget that we’re always here to help whenever you need us for all your LED lighting and lighting appliance needs. Call us on 01328 855028, email [email protected], or drop into our shop for a warm socially-distanced welcome and friendly, expert advice. Who knows, you might even see Barley there one day (if he’s not at home, curled up with his nightlight!)

Stay safe, and see you next month!

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How is LED lighting leading the fight against COVID?

LED lighting COVID

Happy April, everybody! How’s the easing of lockdown treating you?

Although there are still a couple of landmark dates to go before the country returns to normal(ish), it’s already starting to feel like business-as-usual here at Oliver Lamps! Like most other people, we felt a little bit of nervous excitement and trepidation after Easter week as we brushed up on our COVID-19 safety procedures and made sure that everything was ready for April 12 reopening. Still, it wasn’t long before the first lovely customers walked through our doors, and suddenly it felt like we’d never been away!

It’s great to be back, and we’re looking forward to seeing you all again over the coming weeks and months. Even though we only reopened a few short days ago, it’s been fabulous greeting familiar faces and welcoming in some new ones. Thank you all for your continuing support, not to mention the support you’re giving to all the other businesses in our area. Buying local whenever possible is more important than it’s ever been, and we’re proud to be part of such a positive, caring, and socially conscious community.

If everyone in the country works together like the residents and shopkeepers of Fakenham, the U.K. should be back on its feet in no time at all! (Well, we can dream, can’t we?!)

In the meantime, we are busy making plans for a grand re-stocking sale (watch this space and our Facebook page for more details), and we’re sourcing some exciting new products that will be in our shop and available via our website or telephone order very soon.

Now, here’s a question that we’ve been asked a few times over the past several months, so we thought the answer might be helpful for everybody to know (just in case you’ve been wondering about it too.)

“Can LED lighting protect us in the fight against COVID?”

The short answer? Yes, it can! According to a recent Israeli study, COVID can be killed quickly and efficiently using ultraviolet LED lights. That’s because a light wavelength of 267 nanometres is enough to destroy more than 99.9 per cent of coronaviruses in less than half a minute, which is well within the capabilities of a UV LED light. This is what one of the researchers had to say about their findings:

“The entire world is currently looking for effective solutions to disinfect the coronavirus. The problem is that in order to disinfect a bus, train, sports hall, or plane by chemical spraying, you need physical manpower, and in order for the spraying to be effective, you have to give the chemical time to act on the surface. Disinfection systems based on LED bulbs, however, can be installed in the ventilation system and air conditioner, for example, and sterilise the air sucked in and then emitted into the room.

“We discovered that it is quite simple to kill the coronavirus using LED bulbs that radiate ultraviolet light. We killed the viruses using cheaper and more readily available LED bulbs, which consume little energy and do not contain mercury like regular bulbs. Our research has commercial and societal implications, given the possibility of using such LED bulbs in all areas of our lives, safely and quickly.”

(Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-12/afot-llf121420.php)

But READ ON, because there’s an important part two to this answer…

Even though ultraviolet disinfecting bulbs can sometimes be found in home appliances – like water purifiers, for example – please don’t take this as the cue to string purple lights up all over your house. It’s extremely dangerous to expose yourself directly to this kind of light.

“When it comes to ultraviolet radiation, it is important to make it clear to people that it is dangerous to try to use this method to disinfect surfaces inside homes,” the researcher – Tel Aviv University Professor Hadas Mamane – warns, “You need to know how to design these systems and how to work with them so that you are not directly exposed to the light.”

So, the good news is that COVID-beating UV LED technology should hopefully be available in the near future, but, for now, there’s still no substitute for the precautions we’re all currently undertaking – wearing face masks, sanitising hands, social distancing, and wiping down surfaces etc.

Don’t forget, though, for every other (safe) kind of LED light, simply pop into our shop, go on our website, give us a call or send us an email. If it’s LED lighting or lighting appliance-related, we’ll do our very best to source it for you as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

Here’s another question for you; have you have ever wondered how lighting can affect our pets and what we can do to make them (and us) live more comfortably? Well, in honour of National Pet Month, that’s going to be the hot topic of our very next blog, and it’s been partially inspired by a very special member of the Oliver Lamps family! Come back soon to read their story!

Until then, stay safe, everybody!

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How to make your in-store lighting work for you

in-store lighting

The end of the national lockdown is on the horizon. If our customers’ buzz is anything to go by, most of us are looking forward to April 12 almost as eagerly as we looked forward to Christmas! So let’s talk in-store lighting.

If you’re a retail business owner, you’re probably run off your feet getting your shop ready for the big day. We certainly know that we are!

But, while you’re dusting off the shelves and making double-sure that the layout of your premises is bright and welcoming but still COVID-safe, have you stopped to consider what an important part in-store lighting will play in making your relaunch a success?

When it comes to creating perfect interior lighting for shops, offices, schools, churches, and other public and private buildings, there’s nothing that Oliver Lamps’ expert in-house technical team doesn’t know. So, if you’re a shop owner who wants to use your in-store lighting to your best advantage, here are a few tips and tricks to think about…

Don’t be afraid to be up-front!

Your shop front is your calling card. Make sure it’s working for you 24/7. Even when your shop is closed, prospective customers will still be walking or driving past and glancing inside, so you should never miss an opportunity to turn their heads whenever possible.

For example, even though our shop at 26/28 Oak Street, Fakenham, has been closed since the lockdown started, we’re regularly taking calls from people who see a product they like in our window and want to know if they can order it online. Quick answer: Of course they can! Even if an item’s not currently in stock (or you’ve seen it somewhere else entirely), we’ll always do our very best to source it for you.

Think carefully about how your shop window is displayed.

Use track lighting, spotlights and pendants to highlight products and encourage people to come inside, and keep at least some of those lights on after you’re closed at the end of the day. LED lights are perfect for this because they’re low-energy, so they won’t run up your electricity bill, and they don’t burn hot even when they’re used over an extended period, so you can have peace of mind that your lights will stay on, but your empty shop will stay safe.

Don’t clutter up the front window, though. The temptation is to fill it up with all the best-looking products, but less is always more when it comes to shop-front design. It also helps if passers-by can see beyond the products and into the shop to get a tantalising glimpse at the other goodies you’ve got in there. In-store lighting will help you achieve that.

Get the right ambience for the right products.

When we think about ‘ambience’, we’re usually thinking about the comfortable, inviting atmosphere we want to create inside our own home. We don’t usually think of ambience when we’re walking around a shop, looking for something to buy.

But creating ambience in a retail space, especially if you’re selling products like furnishings and homeware, is extremely important. After all, you want your customers to be able to look at the items and imagine how perfectly they’d fit in their own homes. At the very least, you’ll want all your items to be visible and your shop to be a place your customers will want to spend time inside, feeling relaxed and looking around.

Think carefully about your in-store lighting temperatures and colours. Cooler colours (up to 6000K) give a sense of space and airiness. They tend to appeal to younger customers. Warmer colours (between 2700K to 3000K) are cosier and more inviting and tend to attract an older, upmarket clientele. As far as CRI (Colour Rendering Index) is concerned, white is excellent for displaying fabrics, clothing and accessories, and red (rendered very carefully) is popular with all kinds of retailers, including butchers, bakers and fashion stores. Always ensure that the lighting you choose works well with the products you want to sell.

Remember, if you want to create the illusion of ‘natural’ light (in a changing room, for example), high-quality downlights with a high CRI will let customers see the clothes’ true colours much better.

Use a lighting system that can be easily adjusted whenever you want to change your shop’s layout. Suspended track lighting is excellent for that because you can place it anywhere, and it’s simple to install.

Consider how you’re going to mix ambient lighting with accent lighting. The ambient lights should always be subtle enough to keep everything in view, whereas the accent lights should highlight the products you especially want customers to notice. This is sometimes called ‘hot lighting’ or ‘lighting hierarchy’ because it focuses your customer’s attention on the key merchandise without overwhelming their senses.

LED tape is perfect for creating integrated lighting on shelving. According to research, customers pick up twice as many items from shelves with integrated lighting than those without.

Use LED linear lighting to lead your customers around the store.

LED linear lighting is a continuous, uninterrupted strip of light that illuminates the aisles and encourages your customers to move comfortably from the front to the back of the shop without missing anything. It’s much more effective than old-fashioned fluorescent strips because fluoro tubes have to start and stop and are prone to uncomfortable buzz and flicker. LED linear lighting is much more practical and effective because it can be linked seamlessly together, suspended from the ceiling or recessed, and is effortlessly controllable. Like all LED, it is more cost-effective and has a much longer lifespan too.

If you’re a commercial business owner who’s looking for a bespoke lighting solution to make your retail or office space even more inviting for customers and visitors, don’t forget our expert design and installation team is always here to help. Just give us a call on 01328 855028 or email [email protected] to find out more. In the meantime, we wish everyone a safe and successful April 12 reopening, and we’re looking forward to seeing you all inside our own store very soon!

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Let’s celebrate Britain’s lighting ingenuity!

lighting innovation

Did you know that March 5 – 14 was British Science Week 2021?

On their website, www.britishscienceweek.org, British Science Week is described as ‘a ten-day celebration of the innovation that led the United Kingdom to excel in science and technology’, so we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to celebrate Britain’s achievements in home lighting! For example, the American inventor Thomas Edison usually gets all the credit for dreaming up the light bulb, but did you know that an English inventor called Joseph Swan patented his own incandescent bulb at precisely the same time as Edison and sued Edison for patent infringement? And, bringing things right up to date, have you heard the UK is leading the way in a new form of LED light bulb technology that doesn’t just make the bulbs 10% more efficient but also cheaper to manufacture and buy?

Want to find out more? Stand by to be enlightened!

The genius of Joseph Swan

Sir Joseph Wilson Swan was born in County Durham on 31 October 1828. He was only twenty-two years old when he set out to invent the very first light bulb. It took another ten years before he was able to demonstrate it and nineteen more years before he’d ironed out all the technical problems well enough to be granted a patent (how’s that for perseverance?!)

A year later, in 1880, Joseph Swan’s patented light bulbs were being installed in homes and public places across England, beginning with his own house. Soon afterwards, The Savoy Theatre in London became the first public building in the world to be lit up entirely by electricity. On the first night, the public needed so much reassurance about the new technology that Richard D’Oyly Carte, the Savoy theatre’s builder, had to smash a glowing lightbulb in front of the audience to prove how safe it was!

Swan vs Edison

In 1881, ‘The Swan Electric Light Company’ started commercial production, and soon afterwards, the Royal Navy began to install Swan’s light bulbs on board their ships. However, Swan soon realised that he had some serious competition from across the pond, in the form of US inventor Thomas Edison. Edison had patented his own light bulb in 1879, although his plans for the device were very different. Whereas Swan’s design was low-resistance with a short life span, Edison’s bulb was a high-resistance lamp with a long life that could be used as part of a larger-scale electric lighting complex. Despite these variations, Swan argued that he’d got there first and sued Edison for patent infringement, which the British courts upheld. As a penalty, Edison had to make Swan a partner in his electric company, and the ‘Edison & Swan United Electric Light Company’ (more commonly known as ‘Ediswan’) was born in 1883. It’s also interesting to note that even the US Patent Office decided Edison’s patent was invalid, not because of Swan, but because it also duplicated another American inventor’s work.

General Electric takes over

Ediswan sold two different kinds of lamps – one made with a cellulose filament (which was Swan’s invention and only available in the UK), and the other with a bamboo filament (Edison’s invention, made available outside the UK.) You could argue that was a sneaky move on Thomas Edison’s part because it meant his light bulb became internationally well known, whereas Joseph Swan’s light bulb was kept safely within Britain’s shores. And then, when Thomas Edison became one of the founders of the General Electric company in 1892, GE exploited Swan’s patent so they could legally produce light bulbs with cellulose filaments in the US and across the globe. They kept making those bulbs until 1904 when their own ‘General Electric Metallized’ filaments updated Swan’s invention and took electric lighting to the next level.

As a result, Thomas Edison’s reputation as a lighting pioneer has gone from strength to strength, whereas Joseph Swan’s contribution to light bulb history has largely been forgotten. But Swan didn’t disappear; in fact, his patent for making carbon prints revolutionised the photographic industry.

Introducing graphene: the UK’s cutting-edge light bulb technology

In 2004, two Russian scientists from The University of Manchester produced a ‘miracle material’ called graphene, which – among its many other benefits – makes LED light bulbs more energy-efficient than ever before. As a result of their ground-breaking research, the scientists went on to win the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.

What is graphene?

Graphene is a material that’s composed of a single layer of carbon atoms. It is a million times thinner than a human hair and two hundred times stronger than steel. It can be used for a wide range of applications, including rapid charging of electric cars, improved water filtration, and as a coating on the filament of LED light bulbs that dissipates heat and makes the bulbs 10% more energy efficient. This means your light will stay just as bright but at a much lower wattage.

Physicists have known about graphene since the mid-20th century, but Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov were the first people to turn it into something that can be used in the physical world.

The UK government is so confident about graphene technology that it has invested £38m in The University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute, and first-generation graphene bulbs are already on the market. They’re designed to last 25% longer than other LEDs, and they also run approximately 16% cooler than standard filament LED lamps. Although it is still very early days for this new technology, the UK has its sights set firmly on leading the world!

If you’re interested in finding out more about graphene bulbs, give us a call! We don’t currently have any in stock, but we’d be happy to source them for you, and we might even order some for our shop if customer demand is big enough.

And finally… an LED light that requires no energy at all

Just imagine; one day, it might be possible to run an LED light bulb for absolutely no power at all!

That’s what UK inventor Malcolm Wright thinks, and he’s found a way for LEDs to piggyback off the power supply of other appliances so they can effectively be run free-of-charge. He’s called his invention EEBL, ‘Electrical Energy By-Product Lighting’, and he’s already powering his living room lighting from his TV and his garage lighting from the pump in his garden pond.

The bad news is, according to the Intellectual Property Office website, it looks like Mr Wright’s patent ceased in January 2020, so it might be a while before we see his fantastic idea employed in everyday life. Still, it took Joseph Swan 29 years to bring his light bulb to market, so you never know what the future’s got in store!

While we’re on the subject of stores (!), even though a no-cost LED future is still a distance away, don’t forget that your friends at Oliver Lamps are here right now for all your home and business lighting needs, and much more besides. If the government’s ‘easing lockdown’ arrangements go to plan, our fabulous shop will be reopening very soon. Until then (and even afterwards!), our expert team is always here to help. Just give us a call on 01328 855028 , email [email protected], or use the contact form on our website.

Stay safe, and we’ll see you again very soon!