How They Did It: Lighting a Georgian Townhouse and Mews

Nov 16, 2015

The homeowner and architect requested a restrained, sympathetic scheme for the Georgian part of the house, and a fun, dynamic environment for the studio, gym and sauna in the modern mews. Color was an important part of the brief: the mews area is predominantly white and quite hard, so the colored lighting is essential to soften and warm the area. The lighting, like the rest of the technology, needed to be discretely integrated and simple to use.

Brilliant Lighting created a project that highlights what can be achieved with both classic and contemporary lighting, which earned them Best Lighting Scheme in the 2015 CEDIA EMEA Awards.


The most challenging aspect of the project is the scale of the house. It is a little gem but a lot of the spaces are small, the ceiling area in the basement is very low, and the kitchens and bathrooms are very compact. Every detail of design and integration had to be completely perfect.


In the Georgian areas the key was very discrete architectural lighting and statement decorative pieces. Brilliant Lighting worked closely with a number of suppliers to choose the right pieces, and if they couldn't find a fitting that precisely caught the mood and feel the client and architect wanted they commissioned a custom one. For example, miniature LED spots were designed for bedside reading lights which are mounted on to and visually completely blend in with the hand painted de Gournay wallpaper.

By contrast, Brilliant Lighting wanted an impactful IP rated wall light for the front door: off-the-shelf modern external lights were evaluated and rejected for being too clinical, classical carriage lamps were a little dull. The architect sketched out a spiky, modern interpretation of a classic carriage lamp and Brilliant Lighting designed and commissioned a one-off piece that now graces the front door. The design had to accommodate a chunky E27 base LED lamp to create the desired light output, be low glare, have easy lamp access, pass its IP tests, and look minimalist and sculptural. It exceeded the homeowner’s expectations.

Integration in to the fabric of the building was key for the architectural lighting. For example, the architect designed minimalist bathrooms with white glass walls and sleek cabinets: the lighting sits within ceiling slots or behind the cabinetry to provide streamlined, glare free results. Glare had to be considered both directly and indirectly, as all the shiny surfaces were very unforgiving. The careful design delivered stunning, soft, atmospheric, and practical lighting.

The contemporary spaces of the mews are predominantly white and stainless steel; neutral backgrounds with minimal fabric, furnishings, and texture. The homeowner and the architect wanted to use color to warm and enliven the space. DMX controlled RGB lighting is a key feature. Colored lighting can often look tacky: it can be glary and just too 'hard' so Brilliant Lighted had to ensure that the light sources used were soft, luminous, and perfectly integrated in to the space.

In the gym area and the entrance to the back door, they worked with the architect to backlight sheets of opaque white glass. The light source used and the construction detailing means that the light is incredibly soft and fluid, completely transforming the spaces without ever feeling as though you're looking at a light source. The same principles were used on the mews stairs, where the step risers contain striking but low glare light sources: custom fittings were designed with the LEDs hidden behind opaque covers, and then worked with the site team to ensure that the way that the stairs concrete was cast gave us cabling and maintenance routes.

The tiny roof terrace is an important party space: a combination of functional warm white light and incredible inset 'ripples' of color in the decking was used. The decking fittings give a soft glow, and were sited, cabled, and programmed to ripple with a fluid color cycling pattern across the length of the terrace.

Lutron lighting control panels were installed in the plant room in the mews and a wardrobe in the main house. The control makes extensive use of DMX and 0-10v dimming for predictable dimming performance and precise color control across the range of fittings used in the project.

Sustainability and Energy Efficiency

Planning for the project was granted before October 2010 and was therefore not subject to the most recent Part L requirements. Because of the long project duration, we re-specified it during the course of the project so that it exceeded its Part L requirements.
Energy efficiency is built in to the design though: all spaces have low wattage accent circuits which are the primary light source for a lot of the usage time, and even when in 'bright' scenes the programming ensures that no scene sees fittings used at more than 95%.

Control4 control of the powered external studio terrace doors provides access to natural daylight and privacy when needed. Control of the doors is available via scenes on the Control4 panel in the studio.


Control4 was selected as the overall control system for the house offering control over the audio, video, HVAC, intercom and electric doors for the master-suite wardrobe and studio external doors facing onto the mews. The Lutron Homeworks QS is integrated as a sub-system. The primary lighting control interface is the seeTouch keypads but scene control, whole house commands like "All Off", "Security" and "Holiday Mode" and color selection are all available via Control4 touch panels, on-screen interfaces and the iPad app.



CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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