For those of you who’ve been following my blog, it’ll come as no surprise that I’ve dedicated an entire post to lighting. Not only is it crucial to any successful room design, but it can be SO MUCH FUN. The lighting options available to us now are staggering.
From a practical standpoint, good lighting allows you to use your home to its full potential. Tasks are preformed more easily when areas are illuminated properly. And as I’ve mentioned countless times before, lighting is a fantastic way to define different areas within a room (hello open concept!)
Great lighting also sets the mood or tone of a room, adding beauty and drama to your space. Plus, when compared to other design aspects, lighting is relatively inexpensive.
So, where to start? As with anything else in design, begin with a plan.
Determining Your Needs
- Develop a home lighting plan – base it on your individual needs as well as those of your family.
- Make a list of all activities that occur in each room.
- Identify the atmosphere you want to create – open & airy; cozy & inviting; formal vs casual.
- Note any decorative elements you’d like to emphasize.
There are 3 main types of lighting that work together to light your home: Ambient, Task and Accent. A good lighting plan combines all three types to properly light an area. Multiple light sources help balance a room by minimizing glare and shadows, while adding depth and dimension.
- Provides an area with overall illumination.
- Radiates a comfortable level of brightness.
- Basic form of lighting that replaces sunlight.
- Chandeliers, ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, recessed and track are all forms of ambient lighting.
- Helps you preform specific tasks such as reading, cooking, sewing, or homework.
- Should be bright enough to prevent eyestrain.
- Attention must be paid to placement to ensure the lights serve their intended purpose (for example, the bottom of your lampshade should be at roughly the same level as your shoulder when seated to ensure sufficient light for reading).
- Under cabinet, track or pendent lighting, and portable lamps are common types of task lighting.
- Adds drama to a room by creating visual interest.
- Often used to spotlight paintings, sculpture, or other decorative elements.
- Usually requires at least 3 times as much light on the focal point as the general lighting around it.
Using Light to Define Space
As our homes continue to embrace the open-plan concept, many of us face the problem of having to cram a whole lot of living into not a whole lot of space. We’re also much more likely to use our rooms for a variety of purposes. Again, lighting is a fantastic way to define the areas within a room.
Pendants or Chandeliers
- Probably the most obvious way to define a space.
- Draws the eye and says “something happens here”.
- So often overlooked!
- Fantastic on either side of the bed when nightstand space is limited.
- Perfect for over a small dining table where a pendant might be overkill.
- Great solution where some zones of a room will inevitably be positioned against a wall.
- Often we have more than one zone to define, but only one wired ceiling point – floor lamps can fill that need.
- An arcing floor lamp, when large enough, can not only mimic ceiling light, but it’s base can actually act as a subtle space divider as well.