05 Jan 2018

Private mews house creatively illuminated with striking lighting

Mr and Mrs Lawson were looking to create a home from home in their London mews property. Having worked with them previously on their country house in Devon, John Cullen Lighting was familiar with their taste and keen eye for detail. Here, Design Director, Luke Thomas, talks i-build through the project.


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What had changed for this project was the introduction of LED lighting to our tool box of luminaries. LED technology with its low heat and long life expectancy gave us the ability to incorporate lighting into architectural features where it would have not been possible with halogen or fluorescent solutions. Its small size was also an advantage, making it much easier to conceal from view.

Natural light was very limited in this mews house with windows only on the front elevation of the property. As architects on the project, Harrison Sutton Partnership were very creative in their use of glass to allow the spread of daylight through the property. Firstly, three large skylights at the top of the building allow for direct natural light down into the building. The space below this is left clear down to the ground floor with the clever use of glass for the landings and lift shaft, allowing the light to travel. At night-time, the skylights sparkle with in-built LEDs which cannot be seen during the day, and the glass landings glow from within. A Contour LED strip was designed into the support frame around the glass floors to highlight the frosted patterning that also acts as a non-slip surface. This was a perfect example of when a client, architect and lighting designer come together to find solutions and create something out of the ordinary that pulls the whole house together. This required a significant investment in mocking up samples and coordination. The Crittall glass wall on the first floor adds to the flow of light and allows for the staircase, with wall-mounted lights skimming down polished plaster, to remain a key feature from all angles. Regardless of the abundance of natural lighting within the stairwell, getting the artificial lighting correct throughout the whole building was a key part of the project.

Mr Lawson has an incredible collection of original apothecary jars which he was keen to accommodate within the house, and one of our challenges was to light these within a display case. To find the most effective solution required lots of testing with the bottles which were of varying colours and transparencies. The final solution was to use made-to-measure LED 'sheets' which produce an even illumination across their surface. These were positioned at the back of each shelf with a layer of frosted Perspex in front to prevent glare. The effect of the light glowing through the different coloured bottles and making them seem like they are glowing from within is stunning. Most bottles had a label on the front to describe the contents and during testing we noticed that the backlighting left the label in darkness. To resolve this, we completed the design by adding a Contour LED strip in an opal diffuser at the front of each shelf to light back towards the label. At the top of the unit were some special bottles which were lit using a UV light source making a chemical inside the glass glow. The unit made for quite an unusual but spectacular addition to the entrance hall.

Spread across the entire first floor is an open-plan kitchen, dining and living room. The lighting needed to be flexible to accommodate various activities, from cooking, to dining, to entertaining. Each area of the room has several zones of light which give the option to create different moods to meet the requirements of the client and help to break up the space. Rather than having a huge bank of dimmer switches on the wall, the lighting is wired to a central control system designed by Clear Sphere AV which amalgamates the circuits into convenient scenes operated through a touchscreen device or hard button keypad by the entrance to the room. There is a key lighting feature which helps to define each space. The McCarron & Co. kitchen has a central island and lowered ceiling directly above which mirrors the shape, and these are enhanced by the use of an LED tape to give a soft floating effect. The key with this effect is to ensure that the dots of the LED strip are not seen. In addition, Square Double LED downlights are used for focused downlight to the work surfaces. The dining area has a softer approach with downlights only used to light artwork and the main ambient lighting comes from a pendant over the table that gives a very soft glow with exposed filament lamps. A Contour LED strip concealed behind the banquette for an uplight to the wall gives the option to create a little drama when dining. In the seating area the focal point is a large station clock, restored and refurbished by Andy Nebbett Designs to accommodate some internal lighting and this forms an integral part of the lighting scheme. Polespring downlights are used for light within the bar to create an amazing sparkle effect through the glasses and are also used with a narrow beam angle to focus light onto the coffee table.

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