Lighting done right is the simplest way to add verve to any room delivering depth and excitement to a home’s interior -- and exterior in many cases. Most everyone is familiar with accent lighting; when done correctly this method effectively adds drama to a room by creating visual interest.
For example, spotlighting is commonly used in decorating to draw attention to artwork, sculptures, display-cabinet interiors, plants, curios, or other oft-admired collectibles. Additional uses comprise highlighting the unique texture of a wall or drapes and even in outdoor landscaping in lieu of typical floodlights and basic porch or deck lighting.
The caveat? In a remodeling project, all too often a lighting plan is very basic or completely absent from construction drawings. It stands to reason people may want to see the renovated space before deciding where to locate fixtures, switches, outlets, and so on. However, like many other aspects of the project, lighting should be discussed and addressed early on; a plan should be in place before the electrician shows up to start wiring. With some help from an experienced professional electrician or a dedicated lighting designer the lighting plan can bring the project to life.
Think Outside the Typical Lighting Box
When lighting or re-lighting your home, here are a few elements to consider during the planning stage in tandem with your accent-lighting goals:
- A chandelier is often a dining room or foyer’s focal point. For dining, it should be hung about 30 inches above the tabletop and should be at least 6 inches narrower than the table on each side
- Think about the importance of color in your interior and use proper lighting to draw out the dramatics
- Dimming systems enable you to accomplish various objectives such as lowering light levels to conserve energy and increase bulb life, changing a room’s mood, and adjusting a light’s intensity to match an activity
- When selecting fluorescent fixtures aim to select those with instant start T8 electronic ballasts to ensure several goals: the fluorescent lamp will turn on without flickering, the fixture will not give off too much heat, the ballast will not emit an annoying humming sound, and the fixture will accommodate the new energy-efficient T8 fluorescent lamps
- When selecting fluorescent lamps choose T8 lamps with a color-rendering index of 85 and a color temperature of 3000K. This lamp is usually identified using the number “830” in the product code
- Fluorescent lighting is quite simply the coolest of all the light sources; modern, high-quality fluorescent lamps provide wonderful lighting with excellent color rendition
- Ambient lighting -- also known as general lighting -- provides an area with overall illumination that radiates a comfortable level of brightness resulting in safety when walking around
- Coves, soffits, and other concealed locations can also be used to provide very pleasant and effective indirect lighting using T8 fluorescent strip fixtures
- There are three basic types of lighting that work together in layers to light a home: general, task, and accent. A good plan combines all three types to light an area, according to function and style
- Low-voltage halogen lighting offers an extremely white, crisp light source with excellent color-rendering capabilities; this tends to add the extra sparkle to crystal and jewelry
- When placed over end, night or side tables, pendants free up space that would be necessary for table lamps. A general rule of thumb: pendants should be hung approximately 30 inches above a tabletop and should be about 12 inches narrower than the table on all sides
- Task lighting helps when you need to perform certain tasks such as reading, writing, homework, sewing, cooking, hobbies, or games
- When lighting wall objects using track fixtures, the track should be mounted on the ceiling so it allows each fixture to be aimed at a 30-degree angle from the vertical. This will prevent direct-glare lighting from shining directly into your eyes and it also will prevent the indirect glare of disturbing reflections on the lit object. Generally speaking, each accented object should have its own fixture.
- Undercabinet lighting should be mounted closer to the cabinet front instead of near the back to eliminate the possibility of working in your own shadows. Keep in mind line-voltage halogen lighting is often too hot to use in or under cabinets
- Wall grazing provides dramatic illumination to reveal unique textures such as the brick and stone used in fireplaces, or polished surfaces such as marble without distracting reflections in the surface
Why Not Light it Right From the Start?
Interior designers and professional remodelers are often called upon for residential-lighting advice; others try to wing it, resulting in ineffective results as most homeowners are unsure of lighting solutions and the tricks of the trade.
Too often in the do-it-yourself plan fixtures get specified in living areas, kitchens, and baths that waste energy and do not deliver light where it is most needed. Rest assured, you will be happier with professional results that give every nook and cranny of your home the lighting they deserve.
LED’s Here to Stay
Also, position yourself ahead of the curve by keeping an eye turned to the future in this arena. LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting is a growing trend and we offer more info on this particular trend in a previous blog post.