Monday, July 19, 2010

Light Up Your Life

Lighting is the icing on the cake when it comes to a complete look for a room. For that reason, take careful consideration when planning and purchasing your lighting.

Floor lamps, recessed, chandeliers, table lamps, sconces, task lighting: these are the typical options for brightening up a space. Where do you begin? What type of lighting is best for each room and what should you keep in mind when planning? Of course, beauty and aesthetics are vital, but functionality is equally important. Proper lighting allows you to read, prepare meals, eat dinner, or simply have a level of safety by illuminating a dark stairway. Here are a few simple rules that will help you in choosing the perfect “icing” for your “cake.”

Every space in your home will require different lighting; however, there are basic “rules” that will apply to any space. First, make sure that the size of your fixture is appropriate for the room and/or furniture piece that you have underneath or beside it. You’ll also want to make certain that there is enough light for your needs. For instance, some ceiling mount fixtures might only have one bulb capabilities, whereas you might need much more lighting than that, so think about what you will be lighting and how much light it will require. Next, along the same school of thought as size, choose a fixture that doesn’t hang too far over an area that will have a lot of traffic. You don’t want someone bumping their head every time she enters your home.

What is Your Choice?

Another consideration is the bulb itself. CFL’s (compact fluorescent light bulbs) are everywhere these days. These bulbs are a great way to save on energy costs, but can produce light that can actually change the way that a room looks by casting a somewhat harsher, sometimes "bluer" light. Incandescent bulbs, though slowly fading in popularity, are a better choice when soft, warm light is the goal-especially when dimming over a dining table or anywhere that you want to create a romantic or subdued mood.

I have purchased dimmable CFL’s but they are still not equivalent to incandescent dimming capabilities. The newest lighting source is LED lighting. In my opinion, there are limited designs where this type of lighting will work, so I won't dwell on it, but I did want to mention it. 

Next, make sure that your lighting is in the similar style as the rest of your d├ęcor (or not, if that is the goal). Either way, just don’t grab a “generic” fixture to fill a space, think about what you love and what works with the style of your room. Break free from the “model house” look that is oh so standard. Who wants to be standard!? :)

Your foyer or entrance way is the first impression that guests have when they enter your home, so I like to add a little wow factor in that area. A small chandelier is great for a small entryway, while a huge foyer demands a larger fixture. No matter what the size, I say think grand and choose a light that garners attention.

Keep safety in mind when lighting a stairway or hallway. Ceiling mount fixtures or recessed lights work great in these areas, just make sure that it is enough to actually get your though the area without tripping. Also, think about a 3 way switch that allows you to turn on/off the light from both ends of stairway or hall.

In the kitchen, task lighting is key as you will be cutting, chopping, measuring and even entertaining (we all know everyone ends up in the kitchen at some point in the evening).  Recessed lights are appropriate here, but make sure that they are centered over the area that you are lighting. The only drawback from recessed or can lights is that you actually lose a little light as they are more directional lighting rather than lighting that will “fill” up a space. I prefer to use a combination of both recessed and some sort of ceiling mounted light. Adjustable recessed lights are also a great way to feature a furniture piece or artwork in any room.  Bar areas are great for adding a little pop of color or interest with beautiful pendant lights. 


Other simple ways to add more lighting and drama to a space is of course, table lamps, floor lamps, candles (love!), and even wall sconces that use candles and not electricity.  I have to admit, I have an addiction to all things lighting, so I have a collection of lights that I buy when they catch my eye. I might not use them today or next week, but I will eventually use them, especially if I want a quick change one day.  Most of all, just remember to take the time to choose the right lighting for your home. Nothing will make a fabulous space look worse than inappropriate lighting; it’s an easy update for a room and will surely brighten your life!

'Till next time…