Many fixtures today feature elaborate, hand-painted finishes. This complexity can either enhance existing complementary finishes in the interior, or can act as a focal point by contrasting with the surrounding surfaces. Both directions can be equally rewarding.
Before you build or redecorate, note that planning your lighting will make a
tremendous difference in the total look and functional convenience of your
home. Lighting is an integral part of your environment. It affects the mood, the
color, the safety, the convenience and the decorative quality of your home.
Lighting can help you relax and can also keep you awake. Too much or too little illumination in a room
can make you feel tired and fatigued. So it is very important to plan the lighting in your rooms according to
their function, balanced by the look you are attempting to achieve.
Proper lighting is also critical from a safety and security standpoint. Whether it’s viewing the perimeter of
your home, working around the house or moving through it, lighting plays a major role in your safety. (It’s
helpful to remember we require more light to assist us in daily tasks as our eyes age.)
Lighting styles can be selected to complement and enhance most decorative themes. The combined effects
of direct and ambient lighting can achieve spectacular decorating results and add drama to wall coverings,
art objects and floral arrangements.
CHOOSING YOUR LIGHT FIXTURES. There are
no strict rules to follow when choosing fixtures, but
it’s wise to establish a pleasing visual flow throughout
the home – especially in adjoining rooms where
you are able to view one room from another. One
way to do this is by carrying a single design element
throughout the rooms – perhaps the same type or
color of glass, metal finish or design detail (such as
carved leaves). Another thing to consider is the size
of the fixtures – to ensure that they provide the
desired illumination and that their size blends with
the scale of other furnishings. Different areas of the
home require unique considerations.
FOYER LIGHTING. Your foyer’s lighting reflects
your sense of style and pride in your home and establishes
the decorative theme for the rest of the interior.
It should provide ample illumination for a welcome
greeting by casting a soft, congenial light. The fixture
can be ceiling mounted or chain hung. If the
foyer is large enough, you may choose a chandelier.
The height and location must allow ample clearance
for the door.
FAMILY ROOMS. The family room, which is usually
multi-faceted, needs various lighting sources, such as
recessed downlighting and portable lamps. You’ll
need to avoid placing fixtures where they will
produce glare on television or computer monitors.
Note too, that many plasma, flat screen and large
screen televisions require low-level illumination so
the image will not appear to be washed out.
LIVING ROOMS. Most living rooms benefit from a
combination of general and accent lighting. A quiet,
comfortable mood, ideal for relaxed conversation
and reading, can be accomplished with wall brackets,
directed accent lighting (such as lights in a display
cabinet) and table or floor lamps.
BATH/DRESSING ROOM AREAS. Larger rooms
will require a combination of ambient, accent and
task lighting. Wall sconces at eye level on either side
of the vanity mirror will help prevent the dark shadows
common with overhead lighting. This lighting
should not be directed onto the mirror surface, but
instead, illuminate the face. A partitioned bath or
shower will require a minimum of a 75-watt light.
Recessed ceiling lights and hanging lights are popular
in larger baths. Rope lighting hidden in ceiling
details or in the toe space of cabinetry can provide a
pleasing effect at night.
KITCHENS. Because of the multiple tasks performed
in the kitchen, the primary objective in choosing
lighting should be function, followed by decorative
appeal. Bright, well-diffused, evenly spaced lighting
sources from the ceiling are a dependable way to
ensure all open spaces are free of annoying shadows
or glare. Ceiling lights (either pendant or recessed)
should also illuminate the counters and the inside of
the kitchen cabinets. Work areas – counters, sinks
and ranges – may need task lighting provided by
under-cabinet lighting. Decorative pendant lights are
often used above snack bars, islands or dining areas.
DINING ROOMS. The most frequently asked question regarding chandeliers in dining rooms is “How high
should they be hung?” The general answer is 30” - 36” above the table. While there should be a minimum
of 150 total watts in the fixture, you may want to use a dimmer to vary the illumination to match your
preferred dining atmosphere. This will allow you to choose a bright, cheerful light for family dinners and a
softer light for formal dinners.
Other lighting possibilities in the dining room include wall sconces on either side of a mirror or above a
sideboard or serving table, recessed lighting in the corners of the room (which will visually expand the
room) and accent lights inside a display cabinet.
Plan for all the functional and
decorative lighting you require,
so the wiring can be installed at
the correct time during the construction
period. This is especially
critical for recessed lighting.
Plan your switch locations so
that you can walk from one
lighted area to the next lighted
area without having to go back
and turn off a light.
Make sure you have plenty of
outlets throughout the home,
including the halls and foyer,
where you might need additional
lamps (and plug-ins for
the vacuum cleaner).
Don’t forget the aesthetic
and energy saving potential
of dimmers and other lighting
Plan your outdoor light controls
in easily accessible locations.
For added security, you may
want to include an outdoor
light controlled by a photocell.
Include all the areas where
you may need additional
lighting – such as the shower,
closets, stairways and under