January, for many, is one of the darkest months of the year. As we all crash back to earth after the festivities of Christmas and New Year, it can be quite glum. Some of us are counting pennies after splurging on presents, but there are ways to both literally and metaphorically lighten our lives. Our expert this month is Sally Storey, the Founding Director of Lighting Design International and Creative Director of John Cullen Lighting. One of the world’s leading experts on the use of light in architecture and interior design, Sally has recently released a book – Inspired by Light: A Design Guide to Transforming The Home. This new book is just one of the many penned by Sally and cements her as our go-to lighting expert.

Inspired by Light provides readers with practical insights and shares the fundamental principles of lighting design for all areas of the home. It brings the most up to date information on lighting trends and upcoming technology so readers can continue to transform their spaces well into the future. Drawing her inspiration from across the UK and around the globe, Sally aims to create a visually engaging and approachable style accessible to all.

There are lots of aspects to architecture and interior design, what drew you to light in particular?

I studied architecture at Bristol University and was fascinated by the way that light manipulated how you viewed a space, and in any architectural details the varying degree of light and shadow. This drew me to making my architectural thesis on lighting and its impact – not only on buildings but its impact on people’s mood.

Here in the UK, it has just been the darkest part of the year, how can people maximise the natural light they can get in their homes?

Light coloured floors will reflect, bouncing off the ceiling and providing a lighter space, something very much to consider in a basement area or particularly dark rooms. The natural light in a deep pan room will vary and you will need to keep the lighting on in the darker end even when the sun is shining, so it’s important to ensure controls allow you to turn off lighting near windows and allow you to keep darker areas lit. Think about layering the light in order to create mood and aid relaxation.

Since we last interviewed you back in 2017, coloured LED strips have blown up – as you predicted. What do you think we will see in the future of home lighting?

These days in home lighting, the general consensus that downlights have been overused is partly because they are used as the only solution, in grids to give light, rather than provide accent and task light allowing other sources to be the general light. Currently, there is a huge trend toward decorative lighting – one has to look carefully at the light source of these as often they can provide ambient lighting, but some decorative lighting becomes more of an art piece and gives very little actual light. 

You have recently released Inspired by Light, what was the process like trying to capture the effects of lighting and distil that down into your book?

I designed the book to be a practical guide, to demystify LEDS and make people understand why one has to be selective. There is very little available for people to understand how to select LEDs, and with so many available (and bad ones!) it’s important to know what to look for in a good LED and the selection process in order to create the best lighting effect. The idea was that the book would be ideal for interior designers, architects and even the interested homeowner. The book goes through room by room to illustrate different solutions for different styles – from contemporary to traditional. The final section is case studies, pulling it all together to show a complete project.

We want to thank Sally once again for being our expert of the month, Inspired by Light is available now from RIBA and John Cullen Lighting