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The drivers of residential lighting trends of 2021 in Australia.

Image by Christopher Morrison 

In early 2020, when the world was turned upside down, we were required to socially distance and ‘stay at home’ orders were put in place. We initially envisioned it lasting a few weeks, or at most a month or two. However, more than a year later, many of us have realised that the temporary makeshift solutions to accommodate working and studying remotely might actually need some permanent modifications. 

Homes that once functioned as the place of sleeping and eating are being reconfigured to be offices, schools, theatres, and so much more. Due to this demand for multi-functionality, we have seen an increased appreciation for interior features like built-in desk areas, additional storage, soundproof walls or convertible spaces. The modern kitchen island, for instance, has transformed into a multi-functional space. Not only is it still the perfect place to prepare meals for the family, but it also provides options to be a home office or kids’ classroom. The pandemic has pushed homeowners to shift how they perceive their homes and evolve their built environment to accommodate work and play. As a result, according to Westpac’s 2020 National Research, we are seeing an increase of 31% of Australians planning renovations in the next five years, with one in five are already in the process of completing their home revamp within the next 12 months (Utley, 2020). 

The drivers of home renovations 

For different people, home renovations hold different meanings. For some, a renovation signifies an ‘improvement’. Meanwhile, for many others, a renovation means reforming and elevating the living environment, either expanding current spaces or completely transforming the existing house. There has been significant interest in outdoor renovations since this is one of the only environments that can somewhat bring about that feeling of ‘freedom’. The most common renovations Australians plan to undertake are renovating outdoor areas and landscaping, with some also focusing on building outdoor entertainment spaces (Utley, 2020). 

With travel restrictions limiting us to our local areas, many with the intentions to travel overseas have been required to revise their plans. Instead, people are channelling their wanderlust to recreate their out-of-home experience inside the house. For frequent travellers who have absorbed different cultures, architectural styles, and ways of living, revamping their homes is an excellent way to incorporate their memorable experiences from around the globe. 

Lighting design trends of 2021 

 A common downfall in residential lighting ‘design’ is the overuse of budget frosted-face downlights and the misconception that more lights mean better lighting. As a result, everything within the space wears a veil of overt dullness as all the textures and colours are washed out, and the overall effect is a miserable and flat atmosphere. We often refer to this as ‘The London Effect’. When it comes to architectural lighting, what we aim for is a supported contrast that delivers a level of ambience and interest. 

To create multiple scenes and add depth throughout the plan, we utilize multiple lighting layers, from practical task lights through to the ambience of accent lighting. We achieved this recently in our latest project with Mosmo Living, where we had the opportunity to explore different lighting techniques that set the tone depending on the space’s functional or ambient needs. For example, we used a suspended track system with darklighter modules for the kitchen island bench to provide task lights onto the surface with little to no glare. At the same time, combining a decorative luminaire in the lounge area and the upward throws of illumination from the wall lights in the dining room help create a refined sense of contrast without overwhelming or complicating the overall layout. 

A room with tables and chairs

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Image by Christopher Morrison 

In the bedrooms, indirect lighting provides a hotel-esque, luxurious feel. By using linear lighting, we have the flexibility to subtly conceal the light source under kickers, curtain rails or behind the bedhead, which gives the overall space a soft ambient glow. 

A picture containing indoor, floor, bed, wall

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Image by Christopher Morrison 

This lighting concept extends to the outdoor environment. When creating usable alfresco dining and living areas, designers frequently include unique features like sunken firepits, bio-ethanol fires, and swimming pools. With our clients, we aim to create visual interest in the surrounding landscape. To maintain a warm and cozy ambience through a garden, we often incorporate waterproof linear lighting or step lights in a warm colour temperature along pathways or under built-in seating.  

Image by Josh Geelen 
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Image by Christopher Morrison. Project of Wilks Building Group.  

Rise to the challenge 

 While we know that COVID-related limitations will eventually be lifted, life may not be as it once was. There is no doubt that everything has changed dramatically in the past year, starting from being restricted to our home to how we carry out our day-to-day. For those with the means, this also means an opportunity to curate and bring their best experiences into the home. 

In the face of these changes, homebuilders should be prepared to work with clients to find creative approaches to serve their evolving needs. Our ‘new normal’ might just be here to stay, so it is our goal to help homeowners feel supported and able to enjoy their environment to the fullest.  

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