A GUIDE TO LIGHTING YOUR HOME
Lighting has as much to do with how a home feels and looks as do its furnishings. An essential feature, lighting can transform you home, creating dramatic living rooms, peaceful bedrooms, productive kitchens, and beautiful welcoming and safe entrances.
Sometimes an afterthought, lighting should be considered from the time a space is being planned. If you’re modernizing, renovating or simply rearranging, you can evaluate your home’s current lighting by walking through your home in the evening. Turn on lights as you go from room to room. Noticing is the lighting adequate? Does it evoke the mood you desire?
“Each room in the home has its own role to play in your daily life. Take this into account when planning your lighting, find that balance between functionality and personality, while still allowing for flexibility. Remember that your home changes character throughout the day. Also remember the humble light bulb and the inspirational transformations it alone can achieve. You can change the whole atmosphere of your home just by the careful use of lighting.”
In addition to the aesthetic and mood-enhancing benefits of lighting, it also has a functional role too, illuminating areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, study and home office.
Today, the available choice of traditional, modern and contemporary lighting fixtures is as limitless as the imaginations as those who design them. From Italian, German and Scandinavian through to the UK, form and function is very much at the forefront of innovative designers' thinking providing many fabulous options for every room and every situation. With such choice, it is all too easy for the consumer to get confused, especially at the planning stage, so it is vitally important to know before purchasing exactly how light works and what to think about for each room where you plan to change your lighting.
Things to consider
Before writing your shopping list of your precise lighting requirements, it is important to plan and one of the key issues is assessing the amount of natural daylight the room receives, what aspect it is, whether north or south-facing, or otherwise as this will determine light levels during the seasons and thus affect the type of light the room needs. For example, a north facing room will only receive the minimum amount of light even in summer. During winter months however, it could be practically dark after mid-day so more lighting fixtures with a higher luminescence may be needed.
In the kitchen, the priority will be to emphasise and illuminate key features such as work areas, so bright, clean light rather than ambient light which is more suited to the living room. In bedrooms and relaxation areas, mood lighting becomes more appropriate where looking for light options such as dim controlled pendant lights, floor-standing up-lighters and bedside lamps which instantly create a feel of comfort and relaxation.
Mood plays an important role as far as room lighting is concerned. Within each room, you may wish to create various effects and moods using light. There are three main types:
Ambient light is perhaps the most basic of all illumination mimicking the effects of natural light providing the overall illumination of a room. Softer than harsh halogen lighting, ambient lamps and wall lights are used to create a calming effect within a room and are usually used within living and dining rooms as well as the bedroom where soft focus light for relaxation is required.
Accent lighting is the most creative of lighting options and is not intended for functional use. Instead, accent lights are used to create drama in a room by highlighting key features. Ideal for use in a living room in conjunction with ambient light to give greater flexibility, drawing attention to desirable features of your home, such as artwork, plants and fireplaces.
Task lighting gives off a bright, focused light fixed on one position or work surface such as a kitchen or in the study where recessed ceiling down lighters and under wall unit lighting is used to directly focus on work space and food preparation areas. In the study or home office for reading or working, task lighting usually takes the form of a halogen desk lamp.
Room by room lighting guide
The hallway is the room that gives visitors to the home their first impression and so it’s great to create a warm, welcoming effect. Hall lighting tends to generally be softer so things like hanging pendants, wall sconces, lanterns and chandeliers might be more appropriate. By combining the right type of lighting in your hallway, in conjunction with large mirrors which accentuate the effects of the light, you can create a spacious area that is instantly welcoming and bright.
The living room
This is the room where the majority of us spend our leisure time. Living room light should be easily controllable, functional and take into consideration natural daylight, the positioning of furniture, TVs etc. The most efficient mix is a blend of ceiling fitting/pendant with strategically placed floor-standing lamp which can be independently switched on and off as needs dictate. Dimmer switches are also ideal for living room situations where TV screen glare is can be an issue.
The dining room
The dining room should be a place of relaxation where friends and family can gather for family meals or lavish dinner parties. Allowing adequate above lighting such as a strategically placed ceiling fitting/pendant directly over the table will ensure that people can see each other during mealtimes as well as their food. However, when coffee is served and conversation becomes the main focus of the table, softer wall or floor-standing lighting which take light away from the table but throws it around the room is much more appropriate, creating an ambient, cozy feeling.
Lighting in the kitchen should always be utilitarian and task-oriented. Focused under-cupboard lights pointed down onto work surfaces as well as recessed or ceiling spotlights should be used to create a clean, almost clinical effect which works well in harmony with the heavy domestic use of a work area such as a kitchen. If the kitchen is used as a social area too, you may want to consider a dimmer option and plinth lighting to create a less clinical lighting effect.
Modern bathroom lighting should ideally offer a mix of effects depending on your mood and the layout of the room. Bright, clean white light such as halogen spots to create maximum light, a single, focused shower downlight is ideal for when you just want to illuminate the shower area – to task lighting such as that attached to a mirror for personal grooming. When selecting bathroom lighting remember to check the IP rating required for the location of each light. Another useful option is to have an exteriorly controlled dimmer switch for creating a warm glow when you want to take a slow, relaxing bath. Alternatively, you could choise mood lighting……..
The bedroom is another room requiring thought and a mixed variety of lighting options; soft lighting to help you unwind and relax, bedside lamps or wall lights which can be individually switched on and off for reading – and for the evening and early winter mornings when there is no natural daylight, bright pendant or lighting for dressing/personal grooming etc.
The Home office
When it comes to task areas such as a home study or office, a two-pronged approach to lighting is best. Clear, direct light such as a halogen desk lamp to illuminate the work area or reading area and soft, dimmable lighting for when a more relaxed mood is required for leisure use.
Types of lighting
With thousands of light fixtures to choose from, it’s easy to get distracted by appearances. But it’s crucial to choose fixtures for the type of lighting they produce.
Fixtures for every need
The number of lighting choices available can be overwhelming. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach for your entire house, consider during the design phase how you’ll use lighting in each room. This will help ensure that your lighting needs are met.
Ceiling light fixtures most often are used for ambient or general lighting in kitchens, bedrooms, hallways, and dens. Ceiling fixtures use full-size fluorescent, CFL, or incandescent lightbulbs.
For greatest quality and efficiency, look for fixtures with the Energy Saving Features.
Chandeliers are classic over dining room tables, but they also add interest to entrance halls,
bedrooms, and living rooms. Controlling a chandelier with a dimmer switch varies the intensity of light to suit mood and activities. Chandeliers with CFL and LED options are becoming more available and affordable.
Fun and functional, pendants or hanging lamps typically are smaller than chandeliers but also hang from the ceiling. Hung individually or grouped, pendants often are used to light game tables, worktops, breakfast bars, and work areas.
Wall-mounted fixtures provide general, accent, or supplementry lighting. Often designed to
match chandeliers, pendants, or ceiling fixtures, wall-mounted fixtures are available in incandescent, CFL and LED configurations.
Vanity mirrors, globes and vanity bars provide task lighting and supplement ambient light in bathrooms. Availability, selection, and pricing of CFL fixtures make them a wise choice for vanity lighting?
Table and floor lamps
Table and floor lamps provide ambient, task, and accent lighting. Many will accommodate CFLs and LED options are becoming much more available. Be sure to choose -rated lamps, both for energy savings and safety. Halogen floor lamps, for example, operate at such high temperatures that they easily can ignite curtains and other flammables.
The most common recessed lighting fixtures are downlights and accent or eyeball fixtures.
Accent fixtures can be equipped with spotlight bulbs to direct compact beams of light toward specific objects or room features. Downlight fixtures often are used for ambient lighting in rooms with very high or very low ceilings. To prevent heat loss and damaging condensation,fixtures recessed into attic spaces must be airtight.
Track lighting allows ambient, task, and accent lighting from the same system. Individual
fixtures slide along a track and swivel for aiming flexibility. Track-lighting fixtures usually are compatible with incandescent, CFL, and LED lamp technologies. LED lamps provide long life, but CFLs are the best choice for energy efficiency and longevity.
Some useful tips
To make low ceilings appear higher use uplighting.
Draw attention away from unattractive ceilings with downlighting.
Make a room seem larger with an even wash of light on the walls.