Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to Light Your Home Right

Give your rooms the right feel and function with a mix of task, ambient and accent lighting.

Instead of feeling dreary in the dark days of winter, feel bright and cheery in a home with the correct lighting.  These days, the options for lighting seem endless, which can make the pursuit feel overwhelming.  However, if you break it down into the three general types of lighting - ambient, task and accent - the options become more identifiable, and you'll feel more confident when deciding how to light your interiors.  Even if you can't mess with the electrical construction of your home, the addition of a table lamp here or there often can make all the difference.  For a little visual clarification, see how others have mastered their lighting.

Because so many different activities happen in the kitchen, from gathering casually to preparing meals, this space is one of the most important areas to light properly.  In this kitchen (above), not how ambient light is supplied through recessed lighting in the ceiling, while additional task lighting is installed above the island and beneath the cabinets for chopping or reading a cookbook.  The addition of task lights greatly increase the functionality of the kitchen, ambient light along is generally rarely enough.

Don't forget to supplement the dining table with its own task lighting; your family and your guests don't want to squint at their plates.  Install lighting with dimmers so you can set the mood depending on the occasion.

The best way to determine the right lighting for a room is to think about all that will happen there.  Most likely, a living or family room will be used for lounging or entertaining.  Ambient lights provide the soft glow perfect for conversation with guests, but be sure to also flank your sofa with lamps for ample light when reading.  Have a beautiful piece of artwork on the wall?  Showcase if with accent lighting. 

Don't forget that built-in desk in your kitchen, bedroom or hallway.  It needs task lighting as well.  Add a bright lamp if you're unable to install overhead lights. 

You may think the only activity happening in the dining room is a sit-down dinner, therefore task lighting above the table will be enough.  However, even if you're entertaining without a formal dinner, guests may need to pass through the space during a gathering.  Therefore, ambient lighting such as scones or buffet lamps is important.

For these tweezers, shavers and makeup appliers out there, overhead lighting in the bathroom is just not enough.  Avoid the unflattering shadows they create by installing lights on the side of your mirror.

Nobody likes making their way down a dark hallway, so be sure yours is well equipped with ambient light.  If you have artwork on the walls, include accent lighting in the mix as well.  This is also a fantastic place to install dimmers. 

Avoid a disastrous trip down the stairs by outfitting your staircase with task lighting, in addition to ambient light.  Put the two on separate controllers.  If you find yourself needed to go downstairs in the middle of the night, you can guide yourself with the glow of the task lighting. 

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