And then there was light…your lighting design will transform your home


Never never underestimate the importance of lighting design in your home. It can make or break the overall look of the room or house.

Homebuilding & Renovating recently published this handy guide to lighting design. We thought we'd share it with you 🙂

All too often the lighting design scheme of a house is left as an afterthought, at a stage in the project when it is often too late to incorporate certain fixtures and fittings without a great deal of disruption and extra expense.

They key to getting the perfect lighting scheme for your new home is to plan early and to talk through your requirements with your architect and electrician.

Who will design my lighting scheme?

A lighting plan is something you can come up with yourself, having assessed the uses, size and natural light levels in each room. Alternatively, an interior designer, your architect, electrician or a specialist lighting company can come up with one for you.

Planning a lighting design scheme

A good lighting plan allows you to begin to shop around for the types of fitting you need early on, but it is also a vital reference for your electrician, who will need to know the location and type of fittings and switches. As a guide, you should ideally begin planning and making provision for your lighting scheme at the same time as you are planning the plumbing.

A successful lighting scheme takes into account each possible use of every room. Begin methodically, ‘walking through’ your plans, or house in the case of some renovations, and in each room, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What will this space be used for? Consider all possible uses of each room. Will the kitchen double up as a dining or homework space? Will a spare room also be a study?
  • Will there be pieces of furniture, architectural features such as fireplaces or artwork that you want to highlight in any of these rooms? This will determine your accent lighting.
  • Who will be using this room? It is interesting to note that someone of 60+ years generally needs 15 times more light than a ten-year-old.
  • At what time of day will the room be used the most? For example, if you only use rooms in the evening for relaxing, then setting lights on a dimmers is a good idea.
  • Where does natural light enter the room and from what direction?

Once you have the answers to these questions, draw a plan of the room to help you determine the best points for lights to be situated.

On your plan you should mark down permanent fixtures, such as windows and doors, alcoves, fireplaces and other heat sources, such radiators. Next, mark the direction in which occupants of the rooms are likely to spend most time facing, for example the television, a desk or the cooker. Mark where light switches will be most conveniently placed, concentrating around doorways and at the top and bottom of stairs. Finally, have a think about where you plan to site major items of furniture, such as beds and sofas.

Use your findings from your ‘walk around’ to mark where you would like each light source, be that a pendant, side lamp or downlighter, to be located.

How much light is needed in a room?

Consider the amount and type of light that will emitted from each fitting. Bigger rooms obviously need more light that tiny ones, but to easily calculate the amount of light needed for a particular room, work out the size of the space in square metres. Allow roughly 25 watts per meter(250 lumens). This light need not come from a single source, it can come from a combination of different lights.

Using Natural Light

Before you begin to devise a lighting scheme, consider the amount and type of natural light entering the various spaces you are working on.

The role that natural light can play in the overall feel and ambience of your home should not be overlooked when creating a lighting scheme — it should in fact be a starting point.

Self-builders should consider the orientation of their rooms when looking at layouts. Main living areas and kitchens should, where possible, be south facing, as south facing light is warm and bright all day long. West-facing light tends to provide sunlight at the hottest part of the day, so locating rooms where you spend time during the late afternoon/early evening  here means they will get a softer light at this time. North-facing rooms often get a cold, rather harsh light, whilst those facing east will be bright first thing in the morning, followed by periods of almost no sun later in the day.

Lighting and the Building Regulations

Installing low-energy light sources in new build homes is now a must and building regulations state that 75 per cent of the lights in a new home must be ‘energy efficient’. This means that light fittings must produce a total of at least 400 lumens, have a minimum efficacy of 45 lumens per watt and be over 5 circuit watts. Fittings under 5 watts are excluded from the overall count, so too is any exterior lighting. Fluorescent and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), LEDs or discharge lamps would conform to this, whilst fitting low-energy bulbs with bayonet or screw-cap bases do not.

Room-by-room Lighting Guide

Kitchen Lighting: Kitchens are no longer just practical spaces — they are also the spot for many social gatherings and family activities, and as such thought needs to be given to the different types of light that will be needed at different times of day.

Once you have a kitchen plan, showing where tables, worktops, the hob etc. will be placed, you can start to formulate a lighting plan.

You will need background lighting (also known as ambient or general lighting) in order to light the whole space properly. Good options in kitchens include recessed downlighters, pendants and spotlights. Position the lights so that they give a broad spread of light, ensuring the work surfaces will be well lit and that the light directed at them will not be blocked out by anyone standing working at them.

Task lighting in the kitchen should be directed down at the hob — this is often achieved through an extract fanincorporating lights. Under unit lighting is a great idea too — really highlighting the worktops.

Finally, feature lighting, such as LED strip lights beneath base units or within open shelving is a great way to create atmosphere when the main lights are switched off.

Living Room Lighting: This is where a really flexible design is required, to fit in with the multiple ways in which this room is used — socialising, relaxing and entertaining. Although it was once common for background lighting in a living room to be provided by a central pendant, this is no longer always the case.

More and more people are choosing to provide background lighting through a combination of downlights and table or floor lamps, which tend to provide a much cosier feel, although for others, the room will not feel complete without a central focus, such as a daring chandelier, even if it is rarely used for anything other than decoration.

In terms of accent lighting, consider uplights beneath fireplaces, downlights in alcoves, picture lights and then use concealed lighting behind cabinets. Finally, if you plan on reading in the living room, don’t forget a few sources of task lighting.

Bedroom Lighting: The main requirements of the bedroom are that it can be bright in the morning and restful at night. In addition to a soft background light, best achieved by table and floor lamps, the bedroom can really benefit from accent lighting that draws attention to a stylish headboard, or wall washers that soften the boundaries of the room.

It is useful to have switches to control the lighting not only at the entrance to the room, but also either side of the bed. Some practical task lighting can also be really useful, such as low-level recessed floor washers near the doorway or at the entrance to an en suite. This is a particularly good idea in children’s rooms or along landings.

Bathroom Lighting: With so many reflective surfaces, bathrooms respond well to lighting. You will need to pay some attention to the various zones when it comes to bathroom lighting and to the IP rating of fittings.

Zone 0 is the area inside the bath or shower, for example. The IP rating denotes a fitting’s resistance to water and what is needed will depend on which zone the light is to be fitted in.

Recessed downlights work well in bathrooms as background lighting. Task lighting, above mirrors for example, can be provided through an illuminated mirror or by lights than run the width of the mirror, or that sit either side of it. Avoid one single downlight above the mirror, as this will be really unflattering.

Lighting and Wellbeing

In his book, Happy by Design (RIBA Publishing), author Ben Channon says,”There are happiness and wellbeing benefits to be gained from good use of artificial lighting. Danish lighting designer Poul Henningsen devoted much of his career to designing glare-free and uniform illumination, which has been shown to reduce headaches and improve productivity.

Studies suggest that emotions are experienced more intensely under bright, harsh lighting, which can have a negative impact on our moods. Artificial lighting temperatures range from warm ‘soft whites’ (2700-3000K) to ‘bright or cool whites’ (3500-4100K) and finally ‘daylight’ (5000-6500K). Each temperature range creates a different effect and can impact our mood.

Soft whites create a warm, cosy feeling. These work well in bedrooms and living rooms as they are calming and can help to us to relax, which is key to our mental wellbeing.

Bright and cool whites work best in bathrooms and kitchens. They create a more energetic feeling and help to give better contrast between colours.

Lighting Low Ceilings

According to Sian Parsons, Senior Lighting Designer at John Cullen Lighting, “Low ceilings can make a space feel smaller and darker, so using lighting to help increase the feeling of height is essential.

“Uplighting to wash light off the ceiling and back down into the space is very effective. It can be difficult to position wall lights in low rooms, so do consider using floor recessed or plug-in uplights or open shaded lamps to help.

“Keep lamp shades light in colour to maximise the light output and ensure that your surfaces give maximum reflection (matt white walls are simply the best!) to help boost the overall reflectance of the light sources that you use.”

At SDA Build London, we work closely with interior designers and architects to understand the lighting needs of the property and implement their ideas. It's part of a building project and from experience we know how important lighting is to enhance the look, feel and mood of a home. Do give us a call on 0208 191 7595 or email us at if you'd like to have a chat.

Do you need a passenger lift in your property?

Passenger Lifts in Chelsea Properties

Are you living in your “forever” home or about to purchase what you would hope to be your final home? If the answer is yes, you need to think about how you can make the property truly forever for you by future proofing it so that the home is ready to look after you as you grow older. Installing a passenger lift is one such feature that not only adds to the luxury aspect of your home, but is practical in a home that is 3-4 storeys high.

Many of the properties in areas such as Chelsea and Kensington, where we work, are owned by people who have lived in these properties for over thirty – forty years. These homes are vast; literally. High ceilings, large rooms and are built over 3-4 levels. Going up and down several times a day is not only tiring, but impractical. The solution is to install a passenger lift.

For many people, continuing to live in the same home they’ve lived for many years as they age is extremely important, or the ease of moving groceries between floors, or alternatively ensuring your new custom built home is future-proofed. A passenger lift can allow them to do just that, but without the effort and the risk of injuries and accidents, and where often the cost of a lift is less than the cost of moving house.

There are several kinds of passenger lifts that you could install in your home (Stannah Lifts).

Note: you will need to get an architect involved when planning a passenger lift installation

  1. Passenger lifts:These are typical passenger lifts with sliding automatic doors with headroom and pit requirements. These are usually installed in large homes over 2 or more floors and can be installed in new or existing homes.
  2. Platform Lifts: These are Machinery directive lifts allowing four/five people to travel between floors with a choice of door options. Usually these are installed in large to medium-sized properties or in new build developments.
  3. Through-floor lifts: These lifts allow up to two people to travel between ground and first floor and are installed in smaller homes where space is limited and travel is only between ground and first floors.
  4. Service Lift or Dumbwaiter: This is not for passengers. A dumbwaiter is for the transport of food and groceries between floors. Please read our article on service lifts to find out more about installing service lifts in your home.

What to consider when installing a passenger lift. According to the Stannah Lifts website, there are a few things to consider when installing a passenger lift in your home.

  • For new developments, as often there are multiple plots, speak to the lift company to decide the type of products your likely to want within your development.
  • For an existing home, get a survey, or discuss with your chosen lift supplier, to establish which product is most suitable.
  • Choosing the style of the lift, what finishes are required? From glass shafts, custom walls, an array of door options to bespoke flooring, a lift is a sleek and stylish addition – not to mention a life-long practical choice.
  • Once the type of lift and the finishes are decided,  the lift installations will likely require building work, but this varies depending on the type of lift.
  • Whatever the chosen lift, within just a few days the lift is installed and ready for use. The possibilities of home lifts are endless, whether a service lift from garage to kitchen to dining room or lift to take home owners, family and guests around a home. It simply comes down to the space available and what you need to move.

If you are thinking about installing a passenger lift in your home, give us a call. We’ll be able to help you decide where your lift should go and what building work will be needed for the installation. If you are planning a complete home refurbishment and are thinking about installing a passenger lift, again give us a call. We will be happy to discuss your needs based on your lifestyle and make recommendations on what we believe will be most suited to you.

We have had over 20 years’ experience in the building industry and have pretty much ‘seen it all.’ So please do not hesitate to call – 0208 191 7595 or if you prefer, you can email us at with your questions and/or requirements and a member of our team will be in touch.

We thought we’d share details of a few of the most well-known passenger lift companies in the UK:

8 Room Layout Mistakes to Avoid

Room layout mistakes

Over the years, the SDA Build London team has worked with several talented architects and interior designers and we’ve picked up some helpful tips when planning your room layout and space.  A close working relationship with these professionals is essential to give our clients their dream home. They visualise and plan in consultation with the client; SDA Build London implements their vision. This article in House Beautiful hits the nail on the head with 8 room layout mistakes to avoid. We thought it might be useful to you if you are in the process of refurbishing or building a new home.

Whether you’ve moved into a new house or undergoing a renovation, effectively planning the layout of your home will save you a lot of time and money. There are many factors to consider, but measurements are key, as is the size of your actual furniture and whether the layout will work for your lifestyle.

Mismatching your floor plan and lifestyle

Your lifestyle is the single biggest factor that should influence the layout of your new home. For example, if you host guests regularly – don’t position the guest toilet on a different floor or in the family bathroom. If you have outside space, make sure it is easily accessible from the living area and not through a private space, like a bedroom, utility room or home office.

Form vs Function

A plan might look perfect on paper, but mistakes can become apparent only after you move in. For example, placing your kitchen too far from the front or side entrance means that you will have to carry heavy groceries a long way through the house. To make sure your layout functions well, try to imagine yourself going about your daily routines in your new space, highlighting any potential functional challenges.

Not considering how to use your space

Even if your layout is functional, not paying enough attention to the way you use the space can lead to a negative experience. For example, placing the walkway from your living room to the kitchen between the sofa and the TV will create an eye-line obstacle when you’re watching programmes.

Poor space allocation

Even in a larger home, a few centimetres wasted in one area can make a significant difference elsewhere. Corridors are a good example of that. Though they may be attractive as well as a necessity, both for functional reasons and for fire safety, you should keep them to a minimum. The space you save will become very useful in your living room or bedroom.

Neglecting to create enough storage

Forgetting to include not only the right amount of storage but also the right type of storage is a common and often costly mistake. No architect or planner knows what you need to store better than you do, and the type of storage varies by lifestyle. You may need to store bicycles by the entrance or kids’ toys in the living room, so being involved in the storage planning process is essential. Adequate storage is priceless, it will help you avoid clutter, meaning a more organised, safer and calm space.

Treating furniture as an after-thought 

Finding the right place or position for your furniture can become a challenge, even in larger spaces. Finding the right furnishing layout is especially difficult when creating an open plan environment. Remember that with less walls there is also less wall space against which to place furniture and hang artwork. To avoid frustrating and expensive mistakes, create a layout drawing with scaled furniture drawn onto it early on in the design process.

Planning as you go

A harmonious layout requires careful, up-front planning. Each space is unique and there are nuances that typically only a trained eye can identify, and clever tricks only a professional can suggest. Getting your builder in before you know exactly what you want is a recipe for disaster, and you risk going over budget which is all too common. If you feel confused or intimidated by hiring an architect, or if you are looking to save on architect fees – there are other alternatives. Try getting advice from a cheaper floor plan expert online.

Being insensitive to existing infrastructure

Most of your infrastructure, like structural walls, drainage pipes and chimney support walls is hidden. Though it may seem easy to move things around, the cost of repositioning your bathroom to the opposite side, away from the drain may be expensive and may cause problems in the future. Work with your environment wherever possible to avoid spending too much time and money on layout changes where they are not entirely necessary.

If you are considering a property refurb or a house build and believe in doing your best to create a home that is harmonious with the environment, do give us a call on 0208 191 7595. Or better still, book a FREE consultation with us via our website and we’ll visit your property, discuss your ideas and share some of our recommendations with no obligation:)

Service Lifts in Chelsea Properties

Service Lift in Chelsea

If you live in a 3-4 storey property with your kitchen on the lower floors and staff to cook your meals, you might consider installing service lifts AKA a dumbwaiters or microlifts, to make sure your dinners are served hot and on time and to save you the hassle of walking 3 flights of stairs every time you want something from the kitchen.

In our experience, residential service lifts are primarily installed in luxury Victorian homes in Chelsea and Kensington. These premium properties are unique in their high ceilings, traditional features, large doorways and intricate design work. If you walk down one of the premium roads in Chelsea, these stunning properties will take your breath away.

With a desire to modernise, yet preserve the properties traditional features, owners of properties like this in Chelsea and Kensington expect their architects and building contractors to find bespoke solutions to their requirements.

Having a service lift in your home is a statement of luxury; a statement of your lifestyle. In the last year, we have worked with homeowners who have had very specific requirements even of their service lifts, tailored in both design and function to suit their specific needs, whether its glass doors, LED interior cabins or special finishes to the surrounds and doors.

How much does a Service Lift Cost

The simple answer is
 it depends. It depends on several factors including:

Location – If you are set away from main cities or towns, chances are your price will be a little higher than more easily accessible locations. This in large part is due to additional travel time, mileage and potential cost of hotels, should the work be running over two or three days on site.

Floors – Probably the biggest factor in cost is how many floors the lift runs. This will increase the installation time but the bulk of the additional cost is the additional lift material as well as more complex electronics required to tell the lift what to do and where to stop.

Finishes – Cost of steel has risen dramatically over the past years which in turn has affected the production costs of service lifts as they are made primarily from stainless steel and mild steel for the actual lift structure.

Installation Time – This will depend on the nature of the service lift. For example, if the entrances to the lift doors are different sides this may take the installation team a little longer to setup. Other factors can be building sites which are difficult to access or move goods around or lift shafts which are easy to navigate around.

Service Lift Dimensions

Service Lifts come in a range of sizes and the dimensions are often decided by the goods the lift needs to carry. Whilst there are standard sizes, these service lifts can be modified to suit your specific requirements.

Can you install a service lift? Points to consider:

Will the service lift travel vertically through the floor to the correct landing? For example, if the service is installed in the garage to carry groceries, it must be able to travel vertically to the kitchen.
Are there any obstructions on or in the floor that may prevent the service lift from traveling straight up and down through the floors? Examples of obstructions may be toilets, bathtubs, plumbing lines, electrical wiring and weight-bearing floor joists.
Do you have enough space to build a hoist-way? The amount of space needed will depend on the model but be sure to leave room for the guide rail, cables and overhead. Generally, about 4 square feet is required. Having different door swings at different landings may increase the size of the hoist-way because of the interlocks.

What is the service lift being used for? Determine the use of the service lift. How large and heavy are the items that will be going into the lift? Is it carrying large loads of laundry, groceries both or something else? A typical car is 20″w x 20″d x 30″h. Residential service lifts generally have a weight capacity of 100 lb.–200 lb.

We have been working with homeowners of luxury properties in the Chelsea and Kensington areas who have or are in the process of installing service lifts in their properties.

If you need any help, advice or simply a team that can work with you to plan and prepare your home for the installation of a service lift, please do not hesitate to give us a call on 0208 191 7595. Or why not book a Free Consultation through our website.

We’ll be happy to visit your property and share some of our thoughts and recommendations.

Designing a Yoga Room at home

Yoga Room Design

Basement conversions in Chelsea and Kensington are in demand as space constraints prevent rear or side extensions. Not only do they add valuable floor space to your property and increase the value of the property, but are extremely versatile and can be used for several purposes, including cinema rooms, gyms and kitchens.

If your property is in an area where a basement conversion is a viable option, or you are planning a complete property demolition and rebuild, a basement can give you that special, additional “nice to have” space for your hobbies, home business, art collection, wine cellar or children’s den. We recently converted a basement in Chelsea into a yoga studio as property owner had recently qualified as a yoga instructor and wanted a space to build her yoga business.

Whatever the purpose, it’s important to work closely with the architect and interior designer when a space is being built with a specific function. It’s also a good idea to plan the use of the space at the outset so that the construction and design are tailored to the room’s requirements.

The Chelsea yoga studio we built had some specific requirements which we thought we’d share, in case you are thinking of building one in your own home.

As the yoga room was being built in the basement, one of the most important considerations was waterproofing or tanking. Of course, this is the case when building any basement.  SDA Build London is proudly accredited by the UK’s leading waterproofing brand, Delta, with all our basement conversion projects installing their cutting-edge Delta Membrane Systems.

A yoga room needs to be warm and welcoming. Our clients wanted a clean look with uniform heating throughout. We recommended the installation of underfloor heating across the room allowing for even heat distribution and a feeling of warmth when stepping onto the floor.

Flipping to coin, we also installed a ducted air-conditioning system for the warmer months, allowing for air circulation and temperature control.

Wooden flooring was used in the room for a feeling of warmth.

Another important feature was the lighting. We installed dimmer switches on overhead lights for total control of the lighting levels to suit the mood of the room.

Walls were painted in calming, soothing colours such as muted, cooler tones and warm whites. The idea is to provide a sense of calm and peace.

We installed full length mirrors across the width of one wall so that the yoga students could check posture and alignment. As this room was in the basement, and did not have a view to the outside, the combination of lighting and mirrors gave it a sense of space and light.

We built cupboards at the far end of the room for storage of yoga mats and other equipment.

When building a space, it is important to consider the ultimate use of the room. In most cases, the purpose of the room will be the determining factor in several elements such as lighting, electrics, plumbing, heating, colour and flooring.

If you are thinking about building a yoga room in your home or basement or for that matter converting your basement into a habitable space, do give us a call on 0208 191 7595 or book a Free Property Refurbishment Consultation via our website. We will visit your property, discuss your ideas and needs and share some our thoughts and recommendations on we can do for you. This is a no obligation visit, so please don’t feel like you will be tied in to us if you call us outJ