Steven Detmer, residential channel programme manager at Lutron, explains how social media has consumers interested in how lighting can make an impact on the design of a home. However, most of those consumers don’t know where to start, and electrical contractors need to capitalise on that by offering the expertise required.
Homeowners now have a wide array of sources for design inspiration, with social media becoming a key place to view and share ideas. Whether it’s following influencers on Instagram, or pinning ideas on Pinterest, consumers are creating their own mood boards and design plans based on what they see online.
More and more homeowners are interested in the role that lighting plays in the interior design of their home. However, it isn’t interior designers that homeowners need to turn to. The proliferation and diversification of smart home technology means that more homeowners are asking electrical contractors to fit their home with a lighting control solution that creates the perfect lighting scenes.
Modern electrical contractors must be more than an adviser on environmentally friendly and functional lighting control systems. They need to know how to design spaces that are more convenient, comfortable and secure.
Lesson one: Take social media inspiration with a pinch of salt
Without professional help, homeowners will struggle to replicate the homes they see online. When it comes to lighting, consumers will ‘like’ or ‘pin’ images that show rooms with multiple layers of lighting, often edited or filtered. They may believe that the lighting shown in the photo – whether it’s an open window, pendant or lamp – is the key light source, and all they need in terms of lighting design.
Generally, homeowners have a limited knowledge of what is possible, both in terms of lighting design and the technology behind lighting control, so it’s the responsibility of the electrical contractor to be more than an installer. Those electrical contractors that educate themselves on lighting design and scene creation will ultimately stand out from the crowd and see their customer base grow.
Lesson two: Smart technology is for all homes
Something that many homeowners fail to recognise whilst scrolling Pinterest or Instagram is the smart home technology that is usually hidden in interior design. This is because a growing trend for smart home technology is ‘the smaller, the better’. We’ve seen a huge revolution towards wireless technology and minimalistic design, marrying smart home technology and interior design in an aesthetically pleasing way. Homeowners want fewer wires and smaller controls/keypads, that blend in perfectly with their aesthetic.
The same can be said when it comes to lighting control. Although pendants, lamps and shades contribute to a room’s overall look, how these are automated should not be visible. This level of control, coupled with high quality design, is something that has previously been limited to luxury homes. However, new developments in the industry mean that lighting control is becoming a more affordable option for all homes, and even older homes can be retrofitted with wireless technology.
Lesson three: Consider a flexible system
While homeowners might have the best intentions when it comes to replicating a scene they have seen online, they might find that their overall look – tirelessly replicated by their electrical contractor – doesn’t actually suit the size of their space, the colour scheme, or the furniture within it. For this reason, smart lighting needs to be flexible, with the ability to adjust scenes and settings intuitively and retrospectively.
Today’s homeowners are also more time conscious and will be reluctant to invest in a system which may require them to call customer services to change or update settings. Generally, they would prefer to understand how to do it themselves. In addition, adaptable systems help homeowners to feel like they are making a solid investment, as they can make any adjustments following changes in lifestyle, season or daily schedule.
Lesson four: The wellbeing benefits of lighting control
When helping a homeowner with their lighting system design, it’s worth electrical contractors educating them on the benefits of lighting control and advising them why some over lit or underlit spaces may have a detrimental effect on their wellbeing. It’s important to explain that good lighting isn’t just about visibility and aesthetics, but also about comfort.
While some customers may want their home to be bright, with large windows and white spaces, this can create glare in areas where they use screens – such as television rooms or home offices – causing eyestrain and headaches. This could mean that the electrical contractor suggests introducing blinds into these areas. An additional benefit of natural lighting control, which homeowners may not realise, is that it saves energy and decreases heating/air conditioning bills.
Another benefit of a lighting control system is peace of mind. A home is the largest investment most people will ever make, so being sure lights are off, and blinds are closed, all at the touch of a button, makes them feel more comfortable and secure. Electrical contractors should also educate homeowners about the security benefits smart lighting systems can offer. ‘Smart Away’ features replicate how a homeowner uses a space, turning on lights and opening blinds, making it look as though someone is home, even if they’re at the office or on a beach far away.
Modern homeowners have new expectations for their homes, and it’s vital that electrical contractors keep up. By keeping an eye on social media interior design trends, they will understand where homeowners design ideas originate and respond to their needs. More importantly, by learning the basics of lighting control and lighting design, electrical contractors will ensure they can educate customers – whether it’s on wireless technology, flexible systems or ‘Smart Away’ features – and offer them the best possible service.