Here’s a quick bit of useless trivia: the word ‘conservatory’ comes from a combination of two Italian and Latin words – ‘Conservato’ (which means to store or conserve) and ‘ory’ (which means a place for.)
Originally, conservatories were nothing like the conservatory many of us are lucky enough to have at home. They were places used for the storage and conservation of food, and they weren’t made out of glass. It was only a few centuries later when botanists and travellers started to bring exotic plants and fruit trees back to the UK from warmer, sunnier countries that they turned into anything like the kind of conservatory we’re familiar with today. Even then, they were closer to elaborate greenhouses than relaxing living spaces. That’s why you might sometimes have heard conservatories being called ‘orangeries’.
So, now we’ve got that quick bit of history out of the way, let’s look at some bright-spark lighting ideas for what is already one of the brightest rooms in the house.
Make the most of natural lighting.
This is a bit of a no-brainer when you think about it; why worry about planning all-day-round conservatory lighting when the conservatory will be flooded with plenty of natural light during daylight hours? Having said that, you still want to think about some practical lighting you can use in here on darker days and especially during autumn and winter.
Pendant lights are great for that kind of job, and they can be hung just as easily from a beam or a sloping ceiling as they can from a flat roof. For a larger conservatory that’s also used as a dining space, you could add uplights that will throw some interesting silhouettes and textures onto the ceiling when you point them towards plants (vines and hanging plants are ideal). Alternatively, you could plug in some Square Highlights or set up enough spotlights around the four sides of the room to either bathe the entirety with light, or only turn on specific spotlights to highlight certain areas. Coloured and dimmable LED spots would be fabulous for that purpose and give your conservatory an entirely new ambience every time you’re inside it!
Light the outside
When you’re lighting a conservatory, you don’t want to go over the top. There’s an extremely fine line between dark hole, magical, and dad’s throwing a very embarrassing disco party, and unless you’re dad and you’re into disco, you don’t want to cross it.
The other important point to remember is, when it gets dark at night, the conservatory can suddenly feel like you’re sitting in a mirrored goldfish bowl.
A way to avoid that is by placing key lights in the garden, preferably around an arbour or gazebo, so you’ve got something to look at that’s got size, shape and depth. Winding some fairy lights around the trunk of your favourite tree or even planting spots in the flowerbeds can work nicely too. That means you’ll lose a lot of that mirrored glazing effect inside your conservatory because your gaze will be directed out through the glass at the lights in your garden. However, to make that trick really effective, you’ll still have to keep your conservatory lighting at a low level to reduce extraneous reflections.
Think about lighting decorations
A conservatory is a creative space, so don’t be afraid to let your creativity off the leash. You could hang fairy lights or a chain of small LED or solar lights around the walls or from the ceiling to create a grotto or firefly effect. You could add some artwork or a small water feature and use carefully placed spotlights or uplights to highlight them. Or how about putting up a wire framework to suspend the lights overhead and then setting the Smart LEDs to twinkle gently at different times like stars or fairy lights?
You could also look out for some cleverly designed architectural lights, i.e. the kind that have been turned into coffee table ornaments like small sailing boats. It’s always worth dropping into our showroom to check out the wonders we’ve got on offer, or if you see any lights or lighting ornaments that you’d like us to source for you, just let us know!
Create a cosy dining space
Don’t just use your conservatory for dinner parties; use it for smaller, more intimate dining too! All you’ve got to do is find a corner space that’s large enough for a beautiful round table and two or four chairs, and then place a decorative lantern on the wall to cast a warm, gentle glow. Alternatively, you could hang a stylish pendant light directly above the table or use a selection of different sized candles to give the space a sensual 17th century-boudoir ambience. Always be very careful when you’re using and placing candles, though. Make sure they’re securely held upright in holders and well away from any plants, furnishings or materials that could be flammable.
Be safe and practical
The only problem with letting your lighting imagination go wild is… you need enough sockets to plug the lighting in!
Unless you’re a certified electrical wizard, it’s always advisable to consult with a lighting specialist and a qualified electrician before running any new electrical wiring into your conservatory. That’s because conservatories can have humidity/damp problems and internal temperatures that you won’t face in most other rooms in the house (besides the bathrooms, of course, and possibly the basement and loft areas.)
Some people put a 5 amp lighting socket in their conservatory to plug in uplights, floor lamps or table lamps. A 5 amp lighting socket is different from a regular socket because it’s part of the lighting circuit, which means it is switched on and off with the other light switches in the room.
If you’re using extension leads, make sure they don’t become trip hazards and never overload them. Always push the plug of the extension cord securely into the wall, don’t daisy-chain extension cords together to reach across the room, and limit each extension cord to a single appliance. Also, make sure the extension cord you use has the correct rating for the product you’re plugging into it and that it’s marked for either indoor or outdoor use.
So, there you have it – our top five tips for awesome conservatory lighting (well, four lighting tips and one tip of potentially life and property-saving safety advice!) As always, don’t forget that your friendly, expert team at Oliver Lamps are always here to answer your questions and supply all your lighting needs. We’ve also got an ever-changing selection of fabulous bulbs, light fittings, lamps, lighting decorations and home furnishings for you to choose from, so there will always be something new and exciting for you to discover. All you’ve got to do is pop in and see us at 26/28 Oak Street, Fakenham, call us on 01328 855028, or email [email protected].
We’re looking forward to seeing you soon!