Have you ever walked into a room and just felt comfortable and at-home immediately? If you have, this was most likely because the room was lit well. Properly planned lighting makes a huge impact on the overall ambience and feeling of a room. Lighting, as a design tool, is probably one of the singularly most important components of an overall design scheme. Besides creating the ambience that you want, lighting is also used aesthetically – as a highlighter; it is used to help you perform tasks better; it is used to give a sense of security and for overall better illumination in your home. Of course, lighting will vary from room to room, depending on your needs and also because each room carries a different function from the other. Lighting with design in mind means that you have to take the four types of lighting into consideration. They are:
Before you begin shopping for lights in any of the above categories, you first have to sit and write out a lighting plan for each room. Keep in mind that lighting should complement your lifestyle and meet your family's needs. Unnecessary or overpowering lighting will not only work against you when creating the ambience you want, it can also impede your day-to-day functions in a particular room and will not create a feeling of well-being.
PLANNING THE LIGHTING SCHEME FOR EACH ROOM:
- Itemize the activities that occur in each room. For example - reading, preparing food, craft and hobby work, homework, grooming, doing or folding laundry, etc.
- State the mood or ambiance that you want to produce or each space. Do you want a relaxed and laid back mood? Do you want people to be alert and focused? Do you want a feeling of security? Etc.
- Identify any decorative elements you want to emphasize, such as artwork or wall textures.
- Recognize where you have areas with dark wall colors and finishes. Supplemental lighting may be needed for these walls as darker areas absorb more light than those with lighter colors and finishes.
There is a common misconception that you need to light a room in its entirety. This is not true. Interior designers suggest incorporating lighting from each lighting type. This is called layering and includes using lights from any of the four types in a way that they blend well and create an ambience for the room. It is best to decide on a light source and then decide how to disperse it in the room. One way to do this is to look at various lampshades as choosing the right one can make all the difference to how light is diffused in your room.
- Installing dimmer switches on your light fixtures saves energy and allows you to tone down too-bright ambient lighting or to give your lighting scheme degrees of dimness and brightness. Additionally, a dimmer can extend the life of your bulbs and minimizes the times you must change hard-to-reach fixtures.
- Don't try to illuminate your whole kitchen with one or two mega-bright ceiling fixtures. This is a recipe for shadows and glare. Instead, use a blend of ambient, task, and accent lighting. Put lower-wattage bulbs in each luminaire. For example, with 100 watts in under-cabinet task lighting and 200 watts spread among several wall sconces, you can put a 20-watt bulb in each of your pendant lamps for ambient light that won't overwhelm.
- A well-made light fixture looks better, lasts longer, and gives clearer light, so inspect your fixture's construction the way you would a piece of furniture. Some questions to ask: Are the metals sturdy, not lightweight? Are the sockets high-quality porcelain, not plastic? Does the shade hide the bulbs? Do joints and connections look solid? Do parts screw together easily?
- Some lighting projects are perfect for the do-it-yourselfer, such as installing dimmer switches. But for bigger jobs, get customized advice from a trained lighting specialist who will create a plan based on your needs and budget.