Barn lighting – a case study

Looking down on the dining area and lit sail in a glorious old barn

We’ve recently photographed a gorgeous 15th Century barn with an adjoining new build.  We’ve published a photographic case study here but it’s worth going into a bit more detail about some of the challenges and solutions.  Barns can be tricky spaces to light and this project threw up a number of interesting challenges that needed addressing.

The first thing that strikes you about the project is just how large the barn is.  The building has three distinct elements; the original barn, the new build and the glazed link.  The original barn is one space with vaulted beam ceilings over 7m high.

Architectural section drawings of an old barn

Large, open plan spaces with high ceilings require a degree of mental recalibration.  “Normal” fittings struggle to fill the space from an output point of view.  Typical mains halogen downlights put out c. 600 lumens, low-voltage halogen lights c. 900 lumens and good 7w LED replacement lamps might output 450 lumens.  We used powerful yet small ground recessed uplights and downlights mounted on the beams.  These give out 1400 lumens per fitting and courtesy of their Xicato modules offer great colour rendering, consistent colour as well as superior output.

Detail of custom light fitting brackets on a beam in an old barn

It’s easy to focus on the beamed ceilings in these glorious old spaces and lighting the ceiling is an important part of the scheme.  It’s equally important to get light where it’s needed.  High output fittings solve that problem by getting light a long way.  The complementary route is to get the fittings closer to where it’s required.  This project features a lot of custom fixing points with custom made brackets providing a mounting location for the kitchen track lighting.  The custom brackets provide a mounting location that wouldn’t otherwise be there and minimise any additional drilling into the ancient beams.

Another option is to use furniture as an alternative fixing point for lights.  One of the real challenges in the old barn was to create more intimate spaces.  The library area is a case in point.  We used the bookshelves as a mounting location for small downlights, lighting the books and offering a cosy, relaxing location for curling up with a book.

Library lighting integrated into bookshelves

The glazed link is a contrastingly modern piece of architecture linking the old barn and the new build.  Up and down lighting – both internal and external – emphasises the double height space while low level accent lighting adds interest and keeps the lighting on a “human” scale.

Lighting inside and out of the glazed link in the Hampshire barn

The whole barn is controlled by a Lutron HomeWorks QS lighting control system.   The lighting scheme is predominantly LED based and LED is best controlled with a lighting control system.  There are other features of a good lighting control system that really shine in large open-plan spaces.  The ability to control both the whole space and individual “zones” from keypads around the barn makes the lighting manageable.  The system’s DALI capability makes the lighting more flexible than could be achieved with 0-10v dimming while reducing the overall cabling requirement.  That’s a big plus in a space where cable runs are difficult to conceal.   Finally the Homeworks system also controls the powered blinds and curtains.  Some of the the window spaces are vast and rather inaccessible.  Powered blinds and curtains are the ideal solution and Lutron’s are almost silent in operation.

See more photos from this project here.

If you’d like to talk to us about your dream project then give us a call.  Every project we do is different and we love finding innovative solutions to tricky problems.  Contact us here or call us on 01845 525664

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One of our earliest case studies is the lighting for this beautiful old barn in Salisbury

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