Creating ambience, providing essential illumination and often forming the focal point of a room, lighting is one of the most hardworking and underestimated design tools.
Beacon Lighting's Denise Hammond said lighting was no longer used as a purely functional element but was now treated as an important ingredient of a room's decor - one with the power to significantly influence the look and feel of a space.
"Lighting can also be used to emphasise things around the room and shadows to hide certain things you would rather not show off," she said.
"The combination of light and shadow is essential to good lighting design, and over-lit homes are a thing of the past.
"If (the lighting) is too bright then it will cause eye strain and make the person feel uncomfortable."
David Mead, of Lighting City in Balcatta, said the ideal lighting scheme was a combination of task and decorative lighting.
"We like to use a blend of task lighting mixed with decorative lighting to highlight and accentuate the special features of a home," he said.
"There are infinite possibilities with light.
"We recommend taking the time to create an individual lighting plan that will not only provide functionality but also complement the features of your home.
"It's amazing how a little light, used effectively, can completely transform an environment."
Todd Miller, of Alti Lighting in Claremont, said there was a move away from covering a whole house with downlights. “Low-level lighting, such as table lamps and pendants, provides more warmth and atmosphere,” he said.
When it comes to trends, there was a shift towards pendants in organic styles, in timbers or fabric-covered, with off-white a popular colour choice.
“Colours go in and out of fashion, so we advise to have a classical contemporary approach, with simplified shapes and more muted tones,” he said. “Whites, creams, blacks and timber finishes are timeless and will not go out of fashion.”
However, Mr Miller said statement pendants also were still in demand. “Some pendants are like illuminated art in the house,” he said.
Key focal areas for decorative or statement pendants were voided areas of the home, such as above dining tables and kitchen benches and in stairwells.
“Pendants can also be used to good effect either side of the bed instead of bedside lamps,” he said.
Ms Hammond agreed that there was plenty of design potential when it came to suspending pendants. “With a little creativity, you are able to have a little fun when you are hanging your new lights,” she said.
“To enhance their striking effect, suspend a pendant low in a corner of a room; alternatively suspend three or even more as a cluster with the drop of each pendant at different heights.”
The classic chandelier is as popular as ever, according to James Wang, of Hollywood Lighting and Decor in Malaga — and the bolder, the better.
“If you have a relatively high ceiling, a crystal chandelier is a great way to bring attention and make a statement,” he said. “If there is glossy or glass furniture in the room, the reflection from the crystals will give it a little more sparkle.”
Most popular were classical styles in antique bronze, pewter, polished nickel and matt white, as well as crystal chandeliers.
“Crystal fittings do not go out of date and (are) considered a timeless piece, should you not wish to redecorate often,” he said.
Ms Hammond said a chandelier added glamour to the bedroom. It was also a way to create impact in a bathroom. “Imagine the stress of the day slipping away as you slip into a warm bath and gaze over to a glamorous chandelier that takes you to another place. Your qualified electrician will help you position your choice safely,” she said.
Mr Wang said recessed lighting (such as light-emitting diode or LED downlights and star lights) was a popular option as it provided an even distribution disbursement of light, especially in big large open spaces such as the kitchen and living areas.
Mr Mead said recessed linear systems were an exciting new style of lighting. “(They are) trimless, seamless lines of light in the ceiling that offer a modern alternative to the more widely used lighting systems of down lights and surface-mount oysters,” he said.
Recessed systems and hidden lighting were great for highlighting features; for example, concealed LED strip lighting could be used to illuminate stairs, feature walls or kitchen kickboards.
These systems also could be used to highlight artwork and displays.
Lightingales’ Jan Callaghan said LED lights were increasingly sought-after, with more and more fixtures from pendants to recessed lights now incorporating the technology.
Ms Hammond agreed. “LEDs are the next generation of lighting,” she said. “They don’t generate heat, take no time to reach full brightness, contain no chemicals such as lead or mercury, and emit no UV rays or infra-red radiation.”
Ms Hammond said there was an LED fitting for every room of the home, including flush-mounted fittings, pendants and table lights. They also were available as an option for replacing halogen downlights.
“The recently released LEDlux downlights work very similar to common halogen down lights but use 85 per cent less energy, last 25 times longer and operate at a much cooler temperature, making them a safer option,” she said.
Mr Wang said the use of LED lighting strips under benchtops and overhead cabinets was a popular way to add wow factor to a kitchen. “This will give a contemporary ambient light that costs next to nothing to run all day,” he said.