Biophilic Design : How to Harness the Power of Natural Light at Home

Biophilic Design : How to Harness the Power of Natural Light at Home

A dining nook flooded with natural light pouring in from flat roof lights.

Natural light floods a plywood dining nook from two roof windows in the Vault House by Bradley Van Der Straeten Architects

I was approached by Pinterest a few weeks ago asking me if I would like to host my own show on Pinterest TV. Um, yes! Yes I would! And then it became a whole series. It took me all of a micro second to work out what topic I wanted to share in my series. Biophilic design of course as it is something I am so passionate about.

In the first episode, I presented an overview of what biophilic design actually is, what the main principles of it are and what the benefits are for our mental and physical health and wellbeing. In the second episode I explore how we can harness the power of natural light in our homes.

Urbanisation & Spending More Time Indoors

Natural light floods a plywood dining nook and kitchen from two roof windows in the Vault House by Bradley Van Der Straeten Architects

Lighting is such an integral part of our interiors and it is not easy to get right. In the past few centuries, humans have become predominantly urban dwellers. This shift from countryside to city environment has caused a persistent disconnect from nature. It is projected that by 2050, 68% of the developed world will be urbanised, and increasingly distanced from nature and natural systems.

There is also a direct correlation between the increasing urbanisation of our society and rising stress rates. In fact, stress has been called the “health epidemic of the 21st century” by the World Health Organisation.

Studies have shown that in North America and Europe we are now spending 90% of our time indoors. For me as a 40 year old that means I have spent 36 years of my life indoors. That is mind-blowing and probably scarily accurate. Even more crazy is that some species of whales spend more time at the surface than humans spend outdoors.

The Harmful effects of Artificial Lighting

A dining room flooded with natural light pouring in from flat roof lights.

Velux flat roof windows

Spending 90% of our time indoors is a lot of time in artificial lighting which really isn’t good for our health. Artificial light has a very disruptive effect in our circadian rhythms. We need to spend time outside in natural light so that our bodies can function as they were intended to. Natural light helps to regulate our circadian rhythms and co-ordinate our mental and physical systems.

If our circadian rhythms are disrupted by too much exposure to artificial light, particularly at night time, it can lead to disregulated nervous systems and health issues such as increased stress, emotional distress, mood disorders, depression, memory problems, general poor performance, disrupted sleep patterns and even critical illnesses such as obesity, heart problems and breast cancer.

Allowing Nature to Inspire Lighting

A garden on a flat roof that contains a roof window

Velux flat roof windows

However, when it comes to lighting our homes, if we take our queue from nature, we can’t go far wrong.

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.

Frank Lloyd Wright, American architect, interior designer, writer, and educator

Lighting is an integral element of biophilic design and there are a number of ways that we can work with lighting to harness the powers of biophilic design. This is what is so wonderful about biophilic design, it is a really holistic approach to design and many of the associated principles overlap.

Bringing in More Natural Light

The most obvious way to bring nature indoors when it comes to lighting is to bring more natural light into your home. This is much easier said than done unless you are building your own home from scratch and you can design the home to really maximise the amount of natural light that comes in.

Add More Windows and Doors

A beautiful home with lots of windows and sliding doors

A home with KustomSlide Mono Aluminium Sliding Doors from Kloeber that maximise natural light

If you are designing your home from scratch you can make sure you plan in many more windows and doors. Flooding the space with natural light allows our bodies to work according to the natural rhythms of the day and night cycle.

Making windows and doors as large as possible and placing them strategically to ensure that light can enter the home at all times of day will bring maximum benefits. Having dual aspect rooms with windows on adjacent walls that provide views in more than one direction are better than having windows in just one wall.

It can also help to change out any solid internal doors for ones that are glazed instead. This will allow light to pass from one room to another. If privacy is a concern, for example bedroom and bathroom doors, you can get doors that have reeded or fluted glass.

A view of a kitchen through to a dining area and out to the garden

The view through glass doors to the kitchen, dining room and garden beyond in the refurbishment of a North London terraced house by Cairn Architects | Photography by Peter Landers and Anna Stathaki

Add External Glazed Walls

A light filled living room with a glazed wall separating it from the garden

Natural light floods this extension and refurbishment of a North London terraced house by Cairn Architects | Photography by Peter Landers and Anna Stathaki

If you are building from scratch, adding glazed external walls is a great way to ensure that natural light can enter your home more easily. But this can also apply to home renovations.

If you are planning an extension to your home, using glazed walls to create a glass box effect will allow the natural light to stream in unimpeded.

A glass extension to the rear of a Grade II listed property by London Contemporary | Photography by Paul Craig

Add Glass Partitions

Loft conversion - Living room dining room space featuring velux integra windows

Velux roof windows

You can also help the natural light to move through your home more easily by replacing internal walls with glass partitions. You will still get the same sense of zoning your home and break up the space, but you won’t prevent the light from moving through the space.

A kitchen partitioned off with glass doors. An internal window allows more natural light to circulate

Natural light floods the kitchen of a North London terraced house by Cairn Architects | Photography by Peter Landers and Anna Stathaki

Small internal windows can also help the natural light pass from one room to another and can help to illuminate any particularly dark rooms or spaces.

The internal window in the home office allows natural light to move through this North London terraced house by Cairn Architects | Photography by Peter Landers and Anna Stathaki

Add Roof Lights to Increase Natural Light

Natural light floods a plywood dining nook and kitchen from two roof windows in the Vault House by Bradley Van Der Straeten Architects

Roof lights are another great way to get extra daylight into your home. Whether you use them instead of adding extra doors and windows or as well as, you can really make the most of how much light is entering your home.

Velux flat roof windows

You can add roof lights if you have a pitched roof but you can also add them to flat roofs. There are plenty of companies now that also offer bespoke sizes so you can make them work in your home no matter what restrictions you are dealing with.

Dreamy loft conversion inspiration. Image by Velux featuring Cabrio Windows

Velux Cabrio balcony roof windows

Velux also do terrace windows and cabrio windows which allow you to create a small balcony on your roof. I discovered these while thinking about how I would like to convert my loft and maximise the natural light in the space.

Loft Conversion - Living Room - Velux Terrace interior

Velux roof terrace windows

Add Sun Tunnels into Space with Little Natural Light

More natural light flows into this living room from sun tunnels in the ceiling

Velux sun tunnels

Sun tunnels are another great solution for pitched or flat roofs as they allow you to experience the changing light of the seasons and times of day. They can be used to bring extra light into any room in the house as long as the ceiling of that room is not too far from the roof.

More natural light flows into this sunken dining room from sun tunnels in the ceiling

Velux sun tunnels

It’s not just sunlight that can be brought in with a sun tunnel either. They allow you to experience changes in weather, passing clouds and even moonlight.

Use Mirrors to Reflect Natural Light

A large window mirror bounces natural light around in this industrial boho hallway

A window mirror from Dunelm gives the illusion of an extra window in this hallway

If natural light isn’t abundant in your home, one thing you can do to multiply it is to add mirrors. Mirrors help to reflect the light that is coming in and bounce it around the room creating the illusion of more natural light. Place mirrors opposite and adjacent to any windows for maximum benefit.

If you can’t add more windows to your home, adding mirrors that look like windows is a good alternative, particularly if they can reflect views of outdoors.

Bring in Dynamic and Diffuse Light

The principle of biophilic design that refers to lighting is all about dynamic and diffuse light. This means that it is important to incorporate varying intensities of light and shadow that change over time and mimic the lighting conditions that we might experience out in nature.

A space that has good dynamic & diffuse light conditions allows us to experience the time and movement through the light. Think of the dappled light under a canopy of trees, or the reflections of rippling water on a wall. These patterns are what we call fractals, and our brain is programmed to look for these fractals so incorporatingthem into our homes is beneficial.

Add Soft, Flowy Curtains or Drapes to Soften Natural Light

Floor to ceiling floaty voile curtains cover the windows in this dining room

Somerton Linen Voile Curtains from Thomas Sanderson

Diffuse light is when light has been dispersed and scattered evenly across a surface and has been softened slightly to reduce the glare. This effect can be seen in nature when sun light is refracted by cloud cover, fog or a forest.

We can achieve this in our homes by using soft, flowy curtains or drapes to soften any harsh sunlight that comes into our homes. This is particularly useful if you do have large expanses of glazing that may cause stron direct light to enter your home.

Choose Lights That Create Shadows Inspired by Nature

Blue watery reflections from the WAW collection light play on the wall behind this double bed

BE Water Lamp from the WAW Collection designed by Fernando Correa

If you cannot create dynamic and diffuse light conditions naturally, you can always experiment with biomimicry and use lighting products that are modelled on this biological process. Lights that create shadows that look like a tree canopy or light relfected off water for example can add a sense of movement to the space which holds our attention and intrigue us.

Add Window Film that Creates Interesting Shadows

Window film by Hannah Nunn for The Window Film Company

Window film is a great way to create more shadows in your home and to mimic the effect of dappled light. When sunlight comes pouring in through the windows, doors or glazed walls, a window film can help to turn this light into something that more ressembles the light and shadows that we might experience outside.

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Opt for window films that depict nature for maximum effect. The shadows that the window film casts should move and change throughout the day as the sun moves through the sky and enters your home from different angles.

Choose Lights That Mimic the Changing Time of Day

Throughout the day, the colour of sunlight changes and our bodies respond to this. Light is yellow in the morning, blue at midday, and red in the afternoon and evening. Blue light causes our bodies to release serotonin which gives us more energy and helps us to feel alert. As blue light fades into the evening and we see more red light, our body produces melatonin insted which helps us to feel calmer and prepare for sleep.

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If we are spending a lot of time indoors it helps if we can mimic the changing colour of the light throughout the day. There are lamps and lights that you can buy that work on this principle such as wake-up light alarm clocks.

Choose Lighting in Organic Designs and Materials

Three wooden chandeliers in varying sizes hang from the ceiling

Flock Chandeliers by Tom Raffield

The final way that you can can harness the power of light in your home is less about the lighting system itself and more about the decorative appearance of the light fittings. Choosing lights that feature organic shapes and materials that can be found in nature has many benefits.

A plant grows inside a glass ceiling lamp

The Mygdal Plantlight by Nui Studio allows plants to grow even in windowless places

Look for lights and lamps that either incorporate foliage or are symbolic representations of life and make us think of living things. Choose products that are contoured, patterned, textured or feature the numerical arrangements that we can find in nature.

A selection of 11 Biophilic lights


  1. Cara Pendant Light from Lights4Living (affiliate)
  2. Barnacle Hanging Lamp by Kenneth Cobonpue
  3. Nymph Scone by KOKET
  4. Poppy Hanging Lamp by Kenneth Cobonpue
  5. Kris Kros Hanging Lamp by Kenneth Cobonpue
  6. Willow Pendant by Laura Ashley from Lights 4 Living (affiliate)
  7. Tilow Wall Light by Tom Raffield
  8. Ursula Wall Lamp from Cult Furniture
  9. Foliage Wall Lamp by Eichholz from Sweetpea & Willow
  10. Palm Leaf Light by Cult Furniture
  11. Las Palmas Floor Lamp by Sweetpea & Willow


If you are interested in learning more about how to incorporate the principles of biophilic design into your own home, you may be interested in reading these posts.

five reasons to maximise natural light at home
Biophilia in Design: Bringing Nature into the Home
Biophilic Office Design: How to Create the Perfect Home Office
Biophilic Kitchen Designs: How to Get the Look
5 Exciting Ways to Invite Nature into Your Home with Textured Walls
How To Use Organic Shapes in Interiors

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to pin it for later. And if you have any tips to share, please leave them in the comments below.

Pinterest Pin. How to harness the power of natural light at home
5 Of The Best Reasons To Maximise Natural Light At Home

5 Of The Best Reasons To Maximise Natural Light At Home

A detached home that maximises natural light with a timber frame extension and black aluminium sliding doors and windows.

A home with KustomSlide Mono Aluminium Sliding Doors from Kloeber that maximise natural light

For a very long time, I was convinced that I need to live in a rather large house to be happy. I’d dream of one day moving into somewhere palatial, with an enormous footprint, vast ceilings and many rooms. I’ve always had this feeling that I need a lot of space to be happy.

But then, not so long ago I had a realisation. It doesn’t matter about the size of the home. What it comes down to is light. Natural light is what makes me feel better. So what I actually need is a home that is flooded with natural light and has lots of big windows that provide views of nature.

A modern Scandi style home with roof timbers and large aluminium windows maximises natural light

Scientific studies have proven that regular exposure to daylight is essential to maintaining human health and well-being. Research also shows that I am not alone in preferring buildings with large windows. This is because they provide a connection to the outdoors, give us a better sense of the time of day and allow us to experience varying intensities of light and shadow throughout the day.

Again, it all comes down to biophilic design which I have written about extensively. In fact, it was a short stay at Wildwood Spa, a tiny biophilic retreat in the forest of North Devon, that made me realise how much of an impact natural light actually has and how important windows are.

So let’s take a better look at some of the best reasons to maximise natural light in your home.

1. To Save Energy & Money

A lengthy corridor with aluminium sliding doors down one side of barn conversion

This is quite an obvious reason to start with. By bringing as much natural daylight as possible into your home you need to use far less artificial lighting and therefore energy which saves you money in the long run. This is definitely something worth thinking about if you are designing and building a home, renovating or extending. And it is particularly pertinent given the explosion in energy prices this year.

2. To Increase the Value of Your Home

Aluminium doors and windows maximise the natural light in this large open-plan kitchen

My Home Move Conveyancing recently conducted a survey asking Brits what features of a property will make them fall in love at first sight. Over 2000 British homeowners were surveyed and the results showed that the size of the windows ranked fourth out of 30 features.

Clearly, the size of the windows directly correlates to the amount of natural light that a home gets. This makes natural light one of the most sought-after features and a key priority homebuyers look for when purchasing a property. Experts also agree that properties with good natural light have a higher resale value.

3. To Improve Sleep Patterns

Aluminium bifold doors create beautiful shadows on the floor of this timber framed bedroom

Another reason to maximise natural light at home is that our current lifestyle is really interrupting our circadian rhythm and affecting our sleep patterns. Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock. They co-ordinate our mental and physical systems and make sure that our bodily processes occur at the right time during the 24hr period.

The sleep-wake cycle is one of the most important circadian rhythms. Exposure to daylight helps us to stay awake, feel alert and keep active. As night falls, it signals to our bodies to produce melatonin which is the sleep hormone that allows us to have a restful night’s sleep.

As we now tend to spend 90% of our time indoors it is easy to see why there is the need to maximise natural light at home. We need to ensure that our circadian rhythm and the sleep-wake cycle can continue to function properly and protect our sleep patterns.

Without good quality sleep, we begin to see all sorts of physical and mental consequences such as increased stress, emotional distress, mood disorders, memory problems and general poor performance.

4. To Prevent Seasonal Depression

Aluminium bi-fold doors maximise the natural light and enable a seamless transition from inside this living room to the garden outside

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of seasonal depression. It often affects people during the winter months when a lack of daylight reduces our serotonin levels. It can result in low mood, irritability, lethargy and sleepiness. We can lose interest in the things that we normally love to do and can crave carbohydrates.

It is important to expose ourselves to as much daylight as possible during the winter months so that we don’t experience these drops in serotonin and the resulting side effects. Spending more time outside will help with this, but also finding ways to maximise natural light inside your home too.

5. To Keep Us Fit and Healthy

These cornerless aluminium bi-fold doors allow the natural light to flood in whilst connecting this sitting room to the garden.

As we’ve seen natural light is absolutely necessary for keeping us fit and healthy, both physically and mentally. But it is more than our sleep and our mood that is affected by the amount of natural light that we are exposed to.

Our skin absorbs vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D helps to prevent bone loss and reduces the risk of heart disease, weight gain, and various cancers. And according to science, it doesn’t matter whether we get this sunlight outdoors or indoors.

Vitamin D is also important for our immune system. Scientists at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found that Vitamin D is crucial for activating our T-Cells which enable us to fight off serious, life-threatening infections in the body.

Exposure to natural light as we have seen increases our serotonin levels. A side effect of this is that serotonin suppresses our appetite and helps us to lose weight or not gain weight. Makes sense if you’ve ever found it easier to diet in the Summer months.

How Can We Maximise Natural Light at Home?

This is much easier to do if you are designing and building your own home, planning an extension or undergoing a large renovation project.

1. Add Extra Doors and Windows

Plan in as many large windows and doors as you can. Unless your home is a listed building and has to abide by certain regulations, making your windows and doors as big as possible will allow more light to enter your home.

2. Replace External Walls with Glazing

Consider replacing walls with glazing like large bi-fold doors or minimalist sliding patio doors that can fully open up one side of your home. This will not only improve the airflow in your home but will also allow light to flood in.

3. Replace Internal Walls with Glazing

If you have a particularly dark room in your home, you may be able to knock through an internal wall and replace it with glazed panels. This will allow you to still have a defined boundary between the rooms but the light can flow between them uninterrupted.

4. Add a Rooflight

Another way to maximise natural light in your home is by adding a rooflight. You can choose from a flat rooflight which offers a minimalistic finish or a pitched rooflight which has the added benefit of adding height to the room and therefore creating a feeling of spaciousness.

If you aren’t able to make structural changes to your home there are a number of other ways that you can bring more daylight into your home without the building work.

5. Use Light Colours When Decorating

Decorating with lighter colours is generally accepted as making a space feel brighter. Light colours reflect and bounce light around whereas darker colours tend to absorb it.

6. Choose Lighter Furniture

Dark, heavy furniture can take up a lot of visual space as well as absorb light. Opting for lighter furniture that can reflect the natural light around the room is a much better choice.

7. Add Mirrored Surfaces

If you can’t add extra windows, try adding mirrors to your interiors instead. Mirrors can bounce light around the room creating the illusion that light is entering the space from different angles. Consider getting mirrors that look like windows to trick the eye into believing that there is more natural light coming in.

8. Choose Lighter Flooring

By choosing lighter and polished flooring you can reflect the natural light back up into the room. Something like polished stone tiles works well for this.

5 Reasons to Maximise Natural Light at Home Pinterest pin
Artificial Succulents With Ambient Light Timer

Artificial Succulents With Ambient Light Timer

No need to water these artificial succulents with ambient light timer, they will live on regardless of conditions with a magical glow.

Get it here.

Recommended Reading:  32 Beautiful Indoor House Plants That Are Also Easy To Maintain

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Under-Cabinet Lighting Made Easy with EcoSmart Tape Lighting

Under-Cabinet Lighting Made Easy with EcoSmart Tape Lighting

Under-cabinet lighting illuminates those dark corners on your countertop. However, it’s a little cumbersome to install.

Read on to learn why tape lighting has become all the rage.

under-cabinet lights in a kitchen
Under-cabinet lighting brightens up a kitchen, but it usually requires extra electrical work. (Adobe Stock)

The Problem with Traditional Under-Cabinet Lighting 

Traditional under-cabinet lighting is beautiful, but to install it, you have to rewire your kitchen.

To control the lighting, you’ll need to give up a light switch or install a brand new one.

Plus, you might have to cut holes in the bottom cabinets to accommodate the light fixtures. 

EcoSmart’s LED Tape Light changes colors to match your mood. (Photo via The Home Depot)

The Easy Way to Get Under-Cabinet Lighting

EcoSmart’s LED Tape Light makes it easy to get under-cabinet lighting right where you need it. 

This post is sponsored by The Home Depot, and this page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product from these links, we will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

The LED lights on the tape strip not only brighten up your space, but they can change colors! 

Tune the lights to bright white during the day and soft white in the evenings. Feeling festive? Select from a spectrum of colors and dozens of pre-programmed light settings and modes. 

Control the lights with a remote —so there’s no need to hook them up to a wall light switch. Use it to turn the lights off and on and even set them on a timer.

Don’t want to keep up with yet another remote? Get the same remote control from your phone! All you need to do is download The Hubspace app to pair the lights to Amazon Alexa, an Apple Smart Home device or Google Assistant. 

Control the light tape with a remote or through the Hubspace App. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

More About EcoSmart LED Tape Light

EcoSmart’s 16-foot RGB Tunable White Smart LED Tape Light can be trimmed to custom fit your under-cabinet space. The tape can be cut where it is marked with scissors, about every 19.6 inches.

You can link up to two 16-foot kits for a 32-foot run with no additional accessories needed.

The EcoSmart LED Tape Light includes everything you need to install — an adapter, controller with cable, 24-key remote control, 12 mounting clips and 24 screws.

Watch the video to learn all about this Best New Product!

Find EcoSmart’s 16-foot RGB Tunable White Smart LED Tape Light at The Home Depot.

Further Reading

Modern Living Room Lights For a Contemporary Feel

Modern Living Room Lights For a Contemporary Feel

Modern living room lights can help add a contemporary feel to your home interior. Lighting is a vital part of home decor, and can make all the difference between a dingy, inviting interior and a welcoming room. If you’re considering some new modern living room lights, in addition to ambiance you’ll also have to think about practicality. Do you need to use the room for working, watching TV, sewing, reading or just relaxing? Do you need task lighting, or just a soft glow? A mixture of overhead and occasional lighting (floor and table lamps) normally works well. We’ve tracked down 10 modern living room lights, perfect for the contemporary home.

1. Leven modern living room lights range, Tom Raffield

Modern living room lights by Tom Raffield
Leven lighting range, Tom Raffield

The Leven range of modern living room lights includes table, pendant and wall lights and is inspired by the striking formations of smooth, sea-eroded cliff faces and ridged headlands that distinguish the north coast of Cornwall. The shade are made from wood and add interest and texture to any space. Prices start at £165, available from Tom Raffield. 

2. Moya modern wall light, Retro Light

Moya modern wall light, Retro Light

With an industrial style, the Moya wall light will give a vintage feel to your interior. This adjustable wall light is perfect for mounting on either side of a sofa or next to a chair as a reading light. £126.50, available from Retro Light. 

3. Parison glass pendant light, Lighting Lover

Modern living room lights include this gorgeous glass pendant light
Parison glass pendant light, Lighting Lover

This light (above and main image) is made from glass hand-blown into organic shapes and available in two colours, a warm amber and a contemporary petrol. As they are all individually made the dimples in each glass will be slightly different giving them all their own unique character. £150, available from Lighting Lover. 

4. Muswell table lamp by Elstead Lighting

Muswell table lamp by Elstead Lighting

This red geometric shaped table lamp is completed with a white faux linen cylinder shade and polished nickel finial. The glazed finish gives a modern twist to the retro shape. It costs £240, available from Made to Last. 

5. Morom desk lamp, Out & Out

Morom desk lamp, Out & Out

This little desk lamp is part of a range that also contains floor lamps. Great for lighting a dark corner in the living room as a reading lamp, it’s made from sustainable bamboo and around a contemporary designed metal frame. £299, available from Out & Out.

6. Amina Moroccan pendant light, Mullan Lighting

Amina Moroccan pendant light, Mullan Lighting

For modern living room lights with a vintage industrial look, this pendant light makes a unique centrepiece in any surrounding. Available in a range of metallic colourways, it comes with a vintage-style braided cord. £95, available from Lime Lace.

7. Frieda pendant light, Glow Lighting

Frieda pendant light, Glow Lighting

This beautiful British hand blown clear glass Frieda pendant light is available with either a flat or frilled bottom edge. There’s a choice of over 30 fabric cables to match your decor, and a matching wall light available too. £159, available from Glow Lighting. 

8. Ivor wooden tripod floor lamp, dar Lighting Group

Ivor wooden tripod floor lamp, dar Lighting Group

The Ivor wooden tripod floor lamp is a contemporary take on a tripod lamp, the gently tapering legs are inspired by the mid-century period. Fitted with a long white fabric cable and in-line foot switch it’s easy to switch this light on or off with your foot. £118.80 for the base only (a wide range of shades are available at an additional cost), dar Lighting Group.

9. Whitney cluster pendant lamp, Mad About Mid-Century Modern

Whitney cluster pendant lamp, Mad About Mid-Century Modern

These coloured, stacked glass shapes in smoky green and subtle rosy pink are a really unusual choice and will look good whether lit or not. £159, available from Mad About Mid-Century Modern.

10. Black Bauhaus floor lamp, The House Office

Black Bauhaus floor lamp, The House Office

A retro inspired statement floor lamp with an adjustable head. The Bauhaus black floor lamp features a black shade and base contrasting with the chrome stand. Matching pendant and floor lights are available to complete the look. £151, available from The House Office.

Image credit: Main image shows the Parison glass pendant light from Lighting Lover.