How to light up your apartment by interior design studio Sisällä

6 years ago
6 minutes

Sisällä is an interior design studio that focuses on creating highly personalised living spaces, always with good vibes. They share a Scandinavian design philosophy that combines authentic design, sophisticated colours and, importantly, great lighting.

From their studio on Chapel Street in South Yarra, the married duo behind Sisällä expertly determine the right lighting for apartments and their residents. So we asked Lauren Li, Design Director, what are the most effective lighting solutions for an apartment?


Lauren and Philip Li, owners of interior design studio Sisällä. 

In my experience as an interior designer, there is one thing that can transform a space instantly like no other – lighting. 

Imagine a beautiful, fully-furnished living room, complete with a soft, inviting sofa, a well-loved leather armchair and original artwork on the walls. Now imagine six spots of light pointing to the floor.

There is a downlight over the sofa, so when you’re watching tv, you’re in a spot light – that’s not relaxing. When you’re sitting in the armchair with a good book and a glass of wine in the evening, you can’t actually read because it’s too dark. And that masterpiece by your favourite artist is hidden in the shadows. What a shame!

My point is, overhead lighting is simply not going to help you get the most out of your space. Instead, you need to create a textured lighting effect to enhance functionality and ambience. And here’s how... Floor lamps

Floor lamps add instant atmosphere, and they don’t need to be expensive. You also don’t need an electrician to install them. Start by placing a floor lamp that has directional light for reading next to the armchair.


The Ypperlig Floor Lamp from IKEA is the perfect floor lamp, with a dimmable LED for just $99.

Another floor lamp can go in the corner of the room, to create a soft, ambient glow. Make sure you choose lamps that also look good when switched off!


The Grasshopper Floor Lamp by Gubi shows classic proportions and sits perfectly next to any armchair. From Luke Furniture, featured in a project by Sisällä.

Track lights

Another alternative to ceiling spotlights is adjustable, ceiling-mounted track lights. Positioned near the wall, these can be used to direct light onto artwork, or onto a feature such as a fireplace or bookcase. 


Track lights in this open-plan space by Sisälla are located close to the wall to highlight the natural stone in the evening. 

Track lights are a fantastic option if you need flexibility in the space, and you like to rotate your artwork. A narrow beam works well to highlight and create a beautiful textured lighting effect. Installing a few directional ceiling lights will help create a nice mood in the evenings.

Vanity lamps

No, we’re not talking about illuminating your bathroom sink. We’re talking about lighting that is flattering any time of day, from every angle. Don’t you want to look your best when hosting your next dinner party?

Downlights are inherently unflattering, casting shadows on your face and body in all the wrong places. Instead, opt for wall lights. Illuminating you from the sides rather than above, you’ll be looking your best – oh and your apartment will look good too! Be sure to get dimmable lights to optimise the mood for the occasion.

It’s not all about looks though. Wall lights have functional benefits too. For example, pop one just above your bed and you’ve got yourself the perfect night time reading light.


Nexus wall light from Lights Lights Lights featured in a project by Sisällä.

Wall lights with a long arm are super handy over a dining table or in a home office where they give flexibility to swing them over to exactly where you need the light. Often they can be simply plugged into a powerpoint, so there’s no need to call in an electrician.


The Serge Mouille wall light, available at Cult, is a classic design from the 1950s, favoured by designers for its elegant and light form. Shown here in a Sisällä project.

Table lamp

You can never have too many table lamps. On the console table in the entrance hall, the side table next to the sofa, the entertainment unit next to the tv, your bedside table, the buffet... you get the picture. Just about anywhere! 


The Carrie Lamp is a super stylish portable lamp that is charged by USB and sure to bring some Danish 'hygge' into your home. Available at Apartment by Sisällä for $349. 

Don’t let the lack of a powerpoints stop you – table lamps are getting portable. They can simply be plugged into a USB port and charged up. No more messy wires and no more excuses not to charge your space up with beautiful, soft lighting for instant mood and atmosphere.


IKEA worked with Ilse Crawford for the cork-infused Sinngerlig lamp. This is a stunning piece is available for just $49.

Kitchen island bench lighting

Installing a pendant light (also known as a suspension light) will elevate your kitchen island bench aesthetically and improve the functionality of the space. Look for exposed bulbs or a shade that directs down onto the benchtop surface. And whether your style is coastal, retro, traditional or contemporary, there is a pendant light out there to help create your perfect kitchen.


The cone pendant light by Melbourne designers LAAL is available off the shelf in black and white, and the colour and configurations can be customised to suit your space. Contact Sisällä for pricing.

Good lighting will instantly change the way a room looks and fully transform the way your apartment feels. If you’re moving into a new apartment, or you’re looking to give your space a facelift, start with lighting.

Discover more interior design trends for 2018 in this article