The Flick of a Switch

It’s Wednesday so we’re moving away from decor to talk about the ‘bones’ of the house. Or in this case the nerves of the house – the wiring.

And more specifically my sitting room lighting circuit. And going from this…

To this in the flick of a switch. The secret is the 5 amp lighting circuit. They’ve been around forever, and if you or your parents moved into a house anytime from the 70s to the noughties you probably ripped one out.

img_3423In fact I have a vague memory of Mark and I grubbing one out of our old house, because we’d no idea what these tiny sockets could possibly be for.

We rediscovered their genius by accident, when planning the granny annex that never was. My mum has a morbid hatred of overhead lights, and told the architect that she didn’t want any installed, as she would only use sidelights.

Ah-ha, he said (but not in a Partridge-esque way), you need a 5 amp lighting circuit. A separate circuit, wired into the walls, for which all the sockets can be controlled by a single (light) switch. You’ve probably used them in hotel bedrooms without realising. In our case we have two – one for the back and one for the front half of the sitting room, and I wouldn’t be without them.


It means you can use kindly sidelights rather than harsh overheads without thought  – or the faff and backache of switching them all on and off individually. They are both controlled by the  bottom (2 gang) switch here with the overheads on the top one (which I never touch – although the boys still need training).



I’m not sure how easy it would be to retrofit, but if you’re rewiring anyway it couldn’t be simpler. All electricians are familiar with them, and many of them have them in their own homes (ours did). It’s just for some reason they don’t think of offering them to customers.


Despite their low profile there seem to be sockets available in most ranges, and an increasing number of plug options too. I love these retro looking black ones that I sourced online.

So why not go for it…you have nothing to lose but your sciatica and your (appearance of) fine lines and wrinkles.





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Working mum, love interiors, food and my neighbourhood - Forest Gate in East London. And my family of course...

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