Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Let there be light!

Frequently, lighting in a home is either forgotten completely or is implemented as an after thought. A room without enough light is gloomy and depressing; a room with too much light makes for a harsh and unflattering space. 
There's no arguing that the "science" of lighting makes it a challenge, but the good new is that an enormous variety of lighting sources and designs exist for every budget, making it possible for anyone to create a well lit space. 


The lighting plan for our addition is currently in progress. We're researching, drawing and revising our ideas to be ready as soon as the permit is pulled. Since we have been down this road once already when we installed all new electrical in the original section of the house, I thought I'd share some guidelines highlighting a thing or two we've learned along the way.


Lighting is usually broken down into three areas: ambient, task and accent. Ideally a combination of all three will result in a perfect balance of light in each room.

AMBIENT LIGHTING is what supplies most of the light in a room, often in the form of a ceiling fixture. Such as a chandelier or a flush or semi -flush fixture.  Although it typically graces a dining room, a chandelier can add drama to a bedroom, living room or powder room.  Since a chandelier is usually a large fixture, and hence an expensive one, be sure to choose a style that makes a statement to get the most impact for your dollars.


Via SR Design

via bhg.com

TASK LIGHTING, the second layer of light in a room, is used to bring direct light to a specific area. A lamp for reading near your favorite chair or pendants above an island are good examples of this. Incorporating task lights create smaller areas or zones within a multipurpose room.

Via School House Electric

Via West Elm

ACCENT LIGHTING is the last but not the least important layer to incorporate.  Adding accent lighting focuses on one area and brings energy and excitement to a space. Think about the impact of a fixture placed above art or a pretty display on a console table. Can you guess the simplest way to implement accent lighting? Candles! They're inexpensive, available in every size and color and can easily be placed throughout a room.  Since safety is an issue here, try flameless candles instead.


 Via SR Design
Via Christina Murphy Interiors


A few more tips....

DIMMERS give you control of the light and let you set the tone you want for the room, hour by hour, day by day.  Bedrooms are an excellent place for dimmers, but don't overlook spaces in your home used for entertaining that to benefit from the soft, diffused light. 

Via Coastal Living

RECESSED LIGHTING is another means to make sure there's adequate light. I prefer the recessed lights that are small and nearly hidden in the ceiling, which allows me to add one or more decorative style fixtures without the two light sources competing.

Via Christina Murphy Interiors

DIRECT LIGHTING notes: Clear, bright light often causes unflattering shadows. To avoid this, find ways to diffuse light around the room for a softer glow.  Placing several sources and directions of light, choosing opaque shades and positioning lighting at face level are all excellent solutions.


STYLE, STYLE, STYLE! Choose fixtures to create focal points in a room and to reinforce the style or era of your home. Play with the scale by trying something oversized, or mix it up with modern fixture in a formal, traditional room to add interest. 

Via School House Electric

REFLECTIVE SURFACES will rarely let you down. Strategically placing mirrors or furnishing with surfaces that reflect light will bounce rays around a room and brighten the space. Glass, various metals and lacquered finishes on decorative items or furniture are great choices to create this desirable effect.

Via Elle Decor
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