One of the most inexpensive and effective ways to freshen a room is through lighting. Proper layering of light can enhance colour and ambience. Layering involves the careful use of task, accent (or decorative), and ambient (or overall) lighting within each room.
An effective lighting strategy for your entry can make your home look more welcoming. An overhead light on a dimmer switch helps you set an appropriate mood at your front door. A large lantern, chandelier, or subtle recessed lights create ambient illumination. Accent lights highlight a work of art or architectural feature to create visual interest, while task lighting illuminates an entry table.
Balance and adaptability are keys to a well-lit living space. That means permanent fixtures such as a chandelier or a ceiling fan with a light kit should be on a dimmer switch. Overhead fixtures should work in tandem with task lighting such as a floor lamp or lamp on a side table. Wall sconces and down lights or spots accent elements around the room in a final layer of lighting. Living rooms may not have an overhead fixture for overall lighting and instead rely heavily on portable task lamps around the room.
antler_chandelier_close_upDining rooms are probably the easiest rooms in the house for most people to light effectively. After all, most of the action happens around the table. A chandelier or pendant over the dining table does the lion’s share of the work, but don’t forget the possibilities of a task lamp on the sideboard or in-cabinet lighting to put the spotlight on a china hutch filled with favourite collections.
The dining room is a good candidate for a dimmer switch because flexibility is a key feature of this space. With a dimmer switch, you can use low lighting for dinner parties or flood the room with light for a casual homework station. Hung over the center of the dining table, a chandelier is a traditional fixture for providing light in the dining room. In a room with 8-foot ceilings, a chandelier should hang about 33 inches above the table; add 3 inches for every foot above 8 feet. Keep your room layout in proportion by selecting a fixture that is about 12 inches narrower than the top of your table.
Kitchens call for a more complex lighting plan because so much happens in the room. Plan overhead lights for heavy-duty tasks such as wiping down cupboards and sweeping the floor. Add task lighting, such as pendant lights over the island, bar, or sink, for detail-oriented chores. Accent lights show off collectibles or design features.
Although nearly everyone includes task lighting on the bedside table, a bedroom can benefit from more task lighting on a dresser, an accent light on a photo or work of art, and overhead lights on a dimmer switch for general ambience. The best light for bedrooms is generally warm light, which is more flattering and restful. If you do a lot of reading in your bedroom, however, be sure to keep a cool-light shaded task lamp nearby to prevent eyestrain.
A bathroom needs to look and feel different from day to night. In the morning, bright white light awakens and refreshes; while at night, a soft light can provide a spa-light mood or dimmed light can accommodate a late-night visit.Sconces above and beside a vanity mirror assure appropriate light for daily tasks. Place sconces near face height for the most flattering illumination and the fewest shadows. While task lighting is the most important type in a bathroom, pay attention to the other layers as well. Bathrooms with well-placed accent lighting can be more welcoming, and an overhead light on a dimmer switch is easier on the eyes during late-night or early-morning visits.
A home office should be heavy on task lighting. Lamps on a desk or worktable are essential to reduce eyestrain. Accent lights add an inviting, decorative element to an otherwise utilitarian space.
Plenty of controlled lighting illuminates a multitasking basement media space. When the television is on, dimmed accent lights can provide a subtle glow. Bright overhead lighting is a necessity in a basement room, but dimmers allow the light to be reduced for optimum television viewing. When placing lighting, avoid pointing any light directly at the TV screen to prevent glare.