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Let there be light

For design-conscious Cambodians, lighting up your home is no longer just a matter of putting in some new fluorescent tubes

IN a place where natural daylight begins to wane between 5 and 6pm, home lighting is essential. In the past, fluorescent light bulbs have been sufficient illumination, but interior lighting options are growing with Phnom Penh's skyline.

Lighting trends have evolved as light-bulb technologies develop and diversify, and a wide variety of lighting effects are now available. As more options for home design become available in Cambodia, people are able to create their own interior styles and themes.

Here are some lighting ideas for three distinct home interior styles along with suggestions on where to purchase lamps and fixtures.

Tropical chic

Tropical-style home decor typically suggests images of rustic bamboo and palm leaves, but the latest spin on this style of interior design brings together concepts of wide airy spaces and rich woods. Light, natural earth tones such as ivory and tan create a restful feeling when offset by darker shades of natural greens and browns tying in the old tropical ideas of bamboo and palm trees.  

Select natural, subtle lighting for this style of design. A combination of low-watt opaque and translucent bulbs creates a restful look reminiscent of the calming themes associated with tropical design. Backlighting combined with simple floor and table lamps is all that is necessary.

Choose lamp covers that are made of light and airy fabrics but with few accents. Lamp tables that are made of wood, stone and other natural materials bring together concepts of the beach and the ocean.

The shops along Mao Tse Tonge between Norodom and Street 354 sell rattan furniture and lights that can be incorporated into the Tropical Chic style of interior design. There are also a number of handiraft stores around Phnom Penh that feature Cambodian-made lights using local Khmer silk. Combining function with handcrafted elegance, these lamps add local tropical flavor to any room and come in a number of different designs and a wide range of colours.

 
Asian themes

Japanese style interior design is currently very popular. Its central focus is on minimalistic elegance. The simplicity of Japanese design is often accentuated by the use of high contrast, so, although the colors are primarily neutral, they are highlighted with black linear accents. Single strokes of colour are also used to create high contrast, thus accentuating the minimalist feel.

Japanese design is often elusive in its simplicity, creating elements of mystery. Effective lighting in this style continues themes of high contrast. Soft backlighting can be used as a canvas for directional halogen lights that cast shadows across a space, thus creating an ambiance of serene complexity.

Floor and table lamps are used sparingly in Japanese interior design, but they can provide a vehicle for accents. Colourful bases, stems and shades combined with globe bulbs can become the contrast that is essential in tying together Japanese-style rooms.

Edison Electric Cambodia light store on Street 214 carries collections of light fixtures that work well with Japanese interior design. Phnom Penh General Electrical Accessories on Monivong Boulevard is another store that carries a variety of lights, some of which would work with a Japanese-style room.

French colonial

The French colonial interior design is a collision of traditional French styles with those of the "exotic" regions and cultures they colonised.

The dominating theme of French colonial interior design is fineness. Soft draped fabrics offset by highly polished veneers adds a feeling of luxury to this style of room. Strong Egyptian colors blended alongside traditional pastels, especially lilac, create the French colonial color palette.

Classic ornamental laurel wreaths and urns combined with collections of Egyptian sphinx heads, Angkorian statues and other ancient artefacts are typically on display, so lighting choices will often highlight these antiquities.

A vast combination of floor and table lamps along with ornate sconces and ceiling fixtures complete the style. Candle lights and flicker and flame bulbs accentuate this decor.

Both Edison Electric and Phnom Penh General Electric carry lights that work with the French colonial style, but the antique shops around the Russian Market may offer the genuine article.

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