See Your Home in a Whole New Light!
These designer tricks and tips will help you find the perfect mix of lighting for every room and every mood!
Good lighting and bright lighting are not the same thing. A room that’s well lit will offer illumination at varying levels. The combination of light and shadow helps sculpt the space and makes the room more interesting and atmospheric.
To make the most of the lighting in your home, just follow a few basic rules:
Before lighting a room, consider how you use the space. Will the room get most of its use in the day or in the evening? What activities take place there, and in what locations?
If the room is used for tasks, circulation, or by the elderly, you’ll want lighting that’s bright and uniform. If the space is used mostly for relaxation, turn down the wattage and turn up the atmosphere.
Task lighting should cast a pool of light that’s at least double the room’s ambient light, and should usually be placed in front of the person performing the task, to prevent his or her body from casting a shadow over the work surface.
A three-way bulb that tops out at 150 watts is ideal. If that’s not possible, look for a fixture that will accommodate a 100-watt bulb or two 60-watt bulbs. The bottom of the shade should be at eye level to prevent glare.
Ideally, every room should include all three kinds of lighting, although you’re usually fine with just ambient and task lighting.
The “public” spaces in your home should have at least two lighting levels: a bright one for tasks or festivities, and a dimmer one for relaxing or more subdued gatherings. You can achieve that variety by varying the lights you turn on, or with dimmers.
A wall dimmer (rheostat) costs less than $20, and the rewards will far exceed the price, letting you adjust built-in lighting to set a mood and even save on electricity and bulbs. If your lamps don’t have dimmers on them, you can add one to the electrical cord for just a few dollars.
Hang chandeliers about 30 inches above dining tables for optimum visual comfort. Install wall sconces 5½ feet above the finished floor or 15-18 inches above a mantel.
If lighting still has you stumped, there are resources out there to help you. Architects, interior designers, and kitchen and bath designers can assist with your illumination needs. Lighting designersare specialists trained in the art of lighting; they can be especially helpful when dealing with new construction or a major remodel.