Good pubs need to combine food, drink, comfort – and lighting. Here are a few good lighting ideas to make your pub truly shine.

Chances are, when you’re ensconced in the atmosphere of your local pub for a post-work pint you’re more concerned with letting your hair down, chatting with your pals and ordering the next drink. But one crucial element of any fine ale emporium is the lighting.

You might not even notice it (which is probably why it tends to get short shrift), but good or bad lighting can make or break a pub. It can mean the difference between enticing you to stay or compelling you to leave. Every landlord should pay particular attention to the type of lighting they use and how it can create a particular mood and ambience for the punters.

We’ve all been in pubs that have been uninviting or dark – and we usually don’t go back. Here then, are a few good lighting tips when it comes to illuminating a pub.

Internal Lighting

We’ve all been to pubs that have felt like the dark, cavernous bowels of the Earth, so good and effective lighting in the main bar is imperative to create an inviting and pleasant tone.

The focal point for any pub, of course, is the bar, so highlighting the fine selection of ales, wines and spirits on offer is crucial. Pendant lights or counter mounting lighting are effective ways of illuminating the bar, and bar back-lighting showcases the displays, bottles and packets of pork scratching behind the bar.

Effective pub lighting  is usually created through a combination of pendant lighting and wall light fittings which work in symbiosis to create an ambient environment.

Steps and stairs should be well lit, and recess lights do the job admirably – meaning at least you see the steps to the stairs when you stagger up them.

External Lighting

First impressions count and you want to create an instant wow factor. And this is especially true of a public house, where you need to keep illuminated the sign outside and any food/drink boards.  Functional lighting should be hidden where possible and, if not, decorative light fittings can be used to enhance the exterior and facade of the building.

Create an ambience

Ambience is everything.  From the moment you see the pub, to stepping inside, to leaving and taking (hopefully) pleasant memories of a few hours’ imbibing with you, the ambience encapsulates the majority of the pub going experience.

Pubs generally want to invoke an atmosphere of intimacy, warmth and comfort, and, as well as employing some of the previously mentioned lighting techniques, a lot of pubs are using candles to invoke a romantic and chilled out ambience. Used properly, a scattering of candles on tables can be very effective and mood-setting.

Add Some Drama

Most pubs have their fair share of drama – usually at closing time with a few rowdy reprobates who have overdone it on the WKD's. But I’m not talking about that kind of drama. I’m talking about the drama of lighting.

LED changing lighting strips can perform a chameleon-like function as can illuminated furniture, practical during the day but adding a splash of colour to those livelier, partying pub evenings. Tall pendant lights can also be mounted in the entrance to give a grand and striking impression.

Let There Be (Natural) Light

I’ve frequented my fair share of pubs and there’s one drinking chain (that here shall remain nameless) that seems to specialise in creating a pub environment that wouldn’t have been out of place, literally, in the Dark Ages. On the other hand, some pubs can go to the other extreme and blind you with an almost biblical festoon of light.

Natural light is the ideal way to bring warmth, cosiness and, it goes without saying, naturalness that is comfortable and inviting – ideal for reading the paper over a pint.

The kind and strength of natural light you get depends on the time of the year, and as well as light coming in through windows and doors, you can control the light with well positioned blinds and louvers.