Inspiring Ideas for Illuminating a Side Return Extension
Side return extensions are typically designed to pull in lots of natural brightness, but how do you light them when the sun goes down?
When kitchen units extend the full height of the external wall in a side return and there’s lots of glazing in the roof, there’s less available space for lights. Fitting them under wall cabinets is a great option. This sends useful task lighting down onto the worktop without cluttering the walls or roof space.
Here, the glow from lights under the extractor fan reflects off the glass splashback, further boosting light levels.
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A glass roof in this sleek side return extension means there’s no room for lighting directly overhead, but long-armed wall lights have been fitted on a slim section of wall adjoining the extension roof, neatly sidestepping this problem. These lights have adjustable heads and arms, too, for greater flexibility.
A simple floor lamp is a straightforward and flexible option. Choose a design with a directional head for greater control over the light. You can even move it out of the space completely when not in use.
A floor-standing giant Anglepoise or sweeping arc-shaped floorlight are alternative options that would create light above the centre of the table.
If you have a ceiling rather than glazing overhead in your side return, then it’s easy to fit pendant lights. Bear in mind, though, that the sightlines through the space and out via any glass doors at the rear will be interrupted by anything big or bright. Choose a smaller pendant for a more subtle impact, perhaps in an on-trend bronze or copper, which will reflect natural light from outdoors off its surface.
A strip of lighting set into a recess at the top of this living space provides warm, ambient light to supplement the ceiling spots. It’s a smart, contemporary idea and ensures this space remains clean-looking, with no wall lights, pendants or lamps with trailing wires to clutter it.
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Pendant lights make attractive focal points in an open-plan side return space, softly punctuating it at eye level or just above. Here, large black pendants over a table help to zone the dining space and are boosted by very simple, minimal wall lights. The pendants above the kitchen island have been cleverly installed on the wall above, rather than the ceiling, so they hang perfectly over the work surface.
Spotlights fitted into the shelves in this kitchen side return look extremely discreet, but send a wash of light down the wall and onto the worktop. The eye is drawn to the steel support running down the roof space; its vibrant yellow draws the eye, while the light fittings are underplayed and chosen for practicality above all else.
The wooden framework supporting a glass roof in this side return would be a tricky place to install lights, and they could also spoil its clean lines. The solution to lighting the table was to install pendant lights on the side of the adjoining ceiling, then extend their flexes outwards, hooking them neatly from the wooden roof light frames so they hang beautifully over the table. Clever!
Side returns are so often about glazing and natural light, but they can be about statement lighting, too. These incredible, futuristic wall lights reach out into the room like illuminated tentacles. They bring light to this dining space, which has a ceiling rather than glazing, but would work brilliantly with a glass roof, too.
Track lighting, which can be suspended across a space, with small lights attached at chosen intervals, is a genius option in a side return. The track can run beneath a glazed roof without interfering with it physically or visually.
Have you lit a side return extension successfully? Please share your tips and photos in the Comments below.