When should you go bespoke with your lighting scheme? We asked a professional lighting designer

In an exclusive interview with H&G, Paul Nulty – founder of Nulty and Nulty Bespoke – shared his top tips for introducing bespoke light fixtures into your space

Three bespoke lighting fixtures in three living rooms
(Image credit: Nulty Bespoke)

While lighting a room may seem simple, quite a bit of thought is required when crafting a well-lit room that’s equipped and ready to support your daily life. 

If your interiors are feeling a little gloomy, your current lighting ideas could be the culprits, bringing down the overall mood of a space and letting down the rest of your home’s carefully curated design scheme. Luckily, there’s a solution to your lighting woes: bespoke lighting.

The prospect of designing a one-of-a-kind light fixture to adorn your space might seem intimidating, but the process is more accessible than ever. And while not every space needs bespoke lighting to reach its full potential, this considered touch might be just what your home needs. 

To get all the details on bespoke lighting, how to use it, and when to opt for tailored light designs, we spoke with Paul Nulty, an architectural lighting designer with over two decades of experience in the industry. The founder of Nulty and Nulty Bespoke, Paul knows a thing or two about lighting a home with style and functionality in mind.

Why your space might benefit from bespoke lighting

A brightly lit living room with a large gold light fixture

(Image credit: Nulty Bespoke)

You might not consider yourself a lighting expert, but Paul says that in your own space, 'you're probably a curator of light yourself.' You get to decide which light fixtures to introduce into your space, which to turn on or off at various times of the day, and sometimes, the brightness or level of warmth you prefer. Paul adds that these small, daily adjustments are all 'about curating the look and feel of light in that space.' The right lighting gives a space added atmosphere and depth.

'The power of light is really underestimated. It's a cliché to say that good lighting can make a bad space look good or a good space look bad, but it's more than that. I think it's about emotionally engaging people in their space and – whether it's residents, hotels, or retail – it is about giving people a unique interaction with their space,' says Paul.

Though he says anyone can visit a big-box store and pick out an aesthetically pleasing light fixture, getting the whole look right takes a bit more effort. And that's where professional lighting designers – and sometimes, bespoke light fixtures – enter the picture. Curating a space and making people feel relaxed, energized, or invited, is where the fun of bespoke lighting comes in.

'That’s the je ne sais quoi of it. It's all about people feeling great in a space. And often, they don't even realize it's the light. As the lighting designer, you get to be the unsung hero, you know? If you get it wrong, you know you've got it wrong and you get told off. If you get it right, nobody knows,' says Paul.

A headshot of lighting designer Paul Nulty
Paul Nulty

Paul Nulty brings over 20 years of experience in architectural lighting design to Nulty, his lighting design company that serves high-end clients from offices across the world. Most recently, he founded Nulty Bespoke, a custom lighting design company serving homeowners, architects and interior designers.

What types of bespoke lighting should you consider?

A bespoke gold chandelier in an ornate dining room

(Image credit: Nulty Bespoke)

Although tailored, one-of-a-kind light fixtures aren't the right fit for everyone, Paul says that bespoke lighting – in one form or another – is important to consider in every space. While going bespoke with your lighting scheme can mean making the investment in high-quality, personalized fixtures, it can also mean adjusting the type, quantity and placement of your space's lighting to ensure each room fresh and functional.

'There are two types of tailored lighting. There's the scheme design: How is the light in the overall space? That's not just the decorative fixtures, it’s the technical lighting. For kitchen lighting ideas, what's the lighting under the cupboard doing? For dining room lighting ideas how is the artwork illuminated? Have you got table lamps in a living space?' says Paul.

He adds that the 'art of great lighting design' is balance, and getting the 'interplay' of lights and surfaces right. With a mixture of task lighting and glowing ambiance that's fit for your particular space, you'll have achieved the bespoke look without making a large investment in time or money. Often, all you need is a readjustment of what you've already got. 

If you're looking to take the space one step further, though, Paul says that bespoke feature light fixtures are the way to go. These light features should be 'beautiful in themselves,' a non-vital yet eye-catching addition to any space.

'I don't think you always have to go for tailored lighting – I don't think it has to be custom. I think there are great standard fixtures out there, but sometimes you’re going to want something that is custom to you. Sometimes you're going to want something that is entirely tailored,' says Paul.

How to integrate bespoke lighting into your space

A large chandelier over a living room with tall ceilings and a large arched black doorway

(Image credit: Nulty Bespoke)

If you've decided that a tailored light fixture is right for your space, take a look around your home and note any unique spaces that might not work best with a store-bought product. For example, a triple-floor staircase with a skylight might warrant a unique fixture (perhaps an On The Wing rendition) and a helical staircase might require something a bit more out of the box.

As part of this decision-making process, be sure to keep function front of mind, says Paul. The bespoke fixture should always be part of a larger lighting scheme, just one layer within the thought-out space.

'A lot of product design wonderful pieces, but they're not really thinking about how they're going to be used. I like the Bauhaus "form follows function" [tenet] where you're really thinking about the other light. Because I come from a lighting design background, I'm thinking about all of the light in the space and how this piece affects the rest of the light in the space, and not just stand on its own,' he adds.

And making a bespoke fixture work within the space doesn't just have to do with illumination, Paul says. Also consider how the piece will look when all the lights are switched off to get a true test for the fixture's compatibility within the space. The lovely news about bespoke fixtures is that during the design process, you're able to communicate with the designers. If your space requires a bit more downlight, depth or height, small tweaks are often quite easy to make. 

Where are the best places to introduce bespoke lighting?

A staircase with a large, hanging light fixture spanning three floors

(Image credit: Nulty Bespoke)

Every space is different, so there's no straightforward formula for determining if bespoke lighting is right for your home, or where to place it. But Paul says there are some solid places of the home to introduce a bespoke piece. Just like in a hotel or restaurant, you often see a statement chandelier in the atrium or lobby, so it's wise to place eye-catching fixtures for entryway lighting ideas in the home.

Paul suggests entrance spaces, family dining spaces and more general entertainment spaces for a statement fixture – generally, wherever you might gather with friends and family. The dining room, kitchen or living room are also lovely places to implement a large or otherwise striking lighting design.

'It really varies and it depends on budget. Inevitably, custom is more expensive, semi-custom is less expensive, and completely standard is even less expensive. I'm a believer that good design doesn't have to be super luxe expensive. It should be accessible. But it has to be very well considered and thought out, and there are always ways,' he says.

What kind of lighting does Nulty Bespoke offer?

A large hanging light fixture in a minimalist living room

(Image credit: Nulty Bespoke)

Nulty Bespoke, a sister company of Nulty, create custom fixtures for clients ranging from homeowners to architects to interior designers. And after designing many bespoke pieces over the years, Paul says some common threads started to arise. 

Inspired by those reoccurring themes, Nulty Bespoke recently launched three semi-customizable lines of light fixtures: Perla, Planetary and On the Wing. The collections take inspiration from the natural world, each based on a different feature of the great outdoors. And clients can easily customize the standard products to better suit their spaces.

'It was very much about the form of it needing to fulfill a job and to fulfill a role, which is something that is very much a focal piece in the space. Although they’ve become standard products, they grew out of a custom idea or custom need, and they’ve just sort of grown arms and legs for want of a better description and grown into these standard products,' says Paul.


Perla is the perfect light fixture for a room with a lower ceiling, spreading out across a ceiling instead of hanging like a typical chandelier. It evokes qualities of a pearl, using hand-blown glass with light-catching pellets in any color to create a stunning light composition. 

'Perla originally came out of this idea of developing something beautiful and elegant, that obviously provides light – it’s got to do a functional job – but at the same time takes up space without being a vertical piece that you bang your head on a lot,' Paul says.


The Planetary collection makes use of intentionally obscured light sources, featuring 'beautiful discs of light' that glow: 'As a piece, it was designed about concealed light, something glowing, so you’ve got these lovely planes, and we were looking at how we could separate those planes. It just happened it ended up looking like the rings of Saturn from below, which is where the name came from,' says Paul.

On the Wing

On the Wing began as a custom project, and it soon caught the eye of other clients, who wanted to bring their own version of the piece home. Unlike Perla, On the Wing is vertically expansive, fit for a tall staircase or lofty ceilings. 

'You celebrate the volume of the space, and you fill the volume, but you don’t feel like you’re blocking the view. The birds within On the Wing, are these beautiful elements which themselves are detailed and very exquisite, but they still allow you to celebrate the volume of the space, which is really nice,' he says.

Made of intricate hand-blown glass birds, On the Wing allows light to pass through, a welcome change from many solid, opaque fixtures on the market today, Paul adds. Each of the pieces rely on natural light to enhance their already striking appearance – an element that Paul says is often disregarded.

One-of-a-kind lighting inspiration from Nulty Bespoke

A living room with a sprawling blue, purple and gold light fixture covering the ceiling

(Image credit: Nulty Bespoke)

According to Paul, many of Nulty Bespoke's projects originate from a memory or shared story, so the end result becomes a thoughtful testament to a personal experience. He shares that he recently worked with a husband and wife who met in quite a unique location – a salad bar.

'So we're now actually designing a piece for their family room all around salad, which sounds crazy. But it's got textures of salad leaves, and it's beautifully hand-blown glass with colors that you would get in a salad box. And it's a beautiful story about how they met, which is lovely,' says Paul.

Another project from years ago incorporated the love letters sent between a husband and wife across the span of 30 years. The letters were 'cast into beautiful ceramic leaves that then looked like they'd been thrown up in the air,' says Paul. And yet another client saw Nulty Bespoke's On The Wing collection, and requested that the delicate birds be transformed into dragonflies. Paul's response? 'Well, yeah.'

'There's a time and a place for something custom, and it's usually about storytelling and giving something that is so wonderfully personal to them,' he adds.

Nulty Bespoke's pieces – including Perla, Planetary, and On the Wing – can be purchased via 1stDibs, and bespoke commissions can be requested on Nulty Bespoke's website.

Whether you're ready to go bespoke with your lighting this instant, or if you still need to find the perfect place within your home, it's clear that some form of custom lighting has a place in every home. 

By curating a unique, layered lighting scheme or investing in a beautiful, statement piece, your space will have an illuminating upgrade that'll go quite a long way.

Abby Wilson
News Writer

I am a News Writer at Homes & Gardens, with a focus on interior design. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.