What are the advantages of enlisting the help of a lighting consultant?

Our independent lighting designer Claire Pendarves originally qualified as an interior designer and is now a lighting consultant with over 20 years’ experience. Here she aims to demystify the world of lighting design and answer your frequently asked questions. 

When should I plan my lighting? 

Try not to leave the design of your lighting plan until the last minute – start tackling it at the same time as other details such as flooring, heat pumps and kitchen design. The earlier you decide on your lighting layout, the more you can weave in modern techniques such as hidden LED lighting profiles and inground LED uplights. And it will help with your budgeting as well; your electrical contractor can’t really give you a quote until they know what’s required. 

Do you need to visit the site to design a lighting plan? 

At Soho, we offer an online service, so there is no need to visit provided I’m given detailed architectural plans. Even with local lighting design work [Claire is based in Cornwall], I’ll usually work on the plans before the build has even started, so distance isn’t an issue. 

Soho Lighting Founder & Creative Director Lee Lovett on site

Do you supply the lighting? 

No, I only do the lighting design plan and specify the lights I would recommend. I also use my interior design skills to recommend feature lights that I believe will enhance the interior. This may include Soho Lighting products and equally it may not. The mix of customer taste and style, along with how a client plans to practically use the space influences both the technical spec and the aesthetics of the lighting specified, typically precluding sourcing lighting from one single company for a project.  

How long does a lighting design plan take? 

It usually takes 10-14 days, but this is dependent on the availability of your lighting designer. 

What should I supply for a lighting design plan? 

A lighting designer will need to have architectural plans and, ideally, cross-sections, especially if there are sloping ceilings or complicated levels. Plus, kitchen layouts as well as bathrooms. It can also help to know how you plan to place any furniture in the living areas and bedrooms. 

How will my electrician understand the design? 

The lighting design plan will be marked up with clear symbols and a legend showing what each glyph refers to. With my plans, I also supply a section illustrating all the proposed light fittings as well as a spreadsheet detailing each circuit, product reference, and the supplier so everything is clear. 

Do you plan Home Automation? 

I don’t get involved in home automation per se, but I mark up the circuits so this can be incorporated into a smart home set up with ease. 

Do you mark up electrical sockets? 

This is where the Soho Lighting technical team step in to support my plans with switches and sockets.

Elevate your interior with our luxury switches

Will you work out the lighting design plan for my kitchen? 

It’s always best to have the kitchen plans from the kitchen designer, but I appreciate that this isn’t always possible in the early stages. If the architectural plans show the correct positions of the kitchen furniture, I can work with those or alternatively, if you sketch the design, I can transcribe this (as best I can) onto the plan and work from there. 

The statement-making Warwick Industrial Pendant

Will you do a garden lighting design plan? 

Yes, I will, and it’s an area I really enjoy doing. Again, I will need a detailed landscape plan to work on. Please let me know, when you ask for a quote, if you would like the garden included – usually the quote will just include exterior lighting attached to the house. I’m also happy to do a landscape lighting scheme separately if required. 

The Carlisle Polished Bulkhead Light

What if I don’t like the lights you specify? 

This may happen more with the light fixtures rather than the architectural lighting as choosing light fittings is very personal – rather like selecting clothes. I try to gauge your style preferences during the initial discussion (by phone or zoom) but it’s very subjective. 

The lights can easily be replaced with fittings that you prefer later but it helps to know the type of fitting and position, so you can select something later. I don’t propose alternative luminaires but I do supply a list of websites to help you source the perfect lights for yourself. 

Can I make changes to the lighting design? 

Nothing’s set in stone and I won’t charge for one set of changes within two weeks of presenting the design, provided the project layout remains the same. Otherwise, for further alterations a charge will be made based upon an hourly rate. 

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