April 2005


All about Lighting

When decorating a room, most people overlook the most important factor: Lighting. Without proper interior lighting, a room can lose the ambience you were striving for. Rooms with too much light can appear harsh - while rooms with not enough light will appear gloomy. There are some basic guidelines and factors to take into consideration to determine the type of lighting you need for your home.

Different rooms require different lighting solutions. Bedrooms, living rooms, dens and basements can be properly lighted with a basic lighting plan. In rooms up to about 12' x 12', one overhead light that emits 120 watts should be sufficient. To better distribute light in these rooms, four recessed lights can be added to the corners of the room. Some larger rooms may be more of a rectangle shape than a square. These rooms require more lighting and would be more evenly lit with 6 recessed lights.

Kitchens and bathrooms require a more complicated approach to lighting. These rooms are high-traffic areas and it is important to provide proper lighting. In a kitchen, it is important that all the work areas (sink, stove and countertops) be well lit. The overhead lighting should line up above the outside edge of the cabinets. This provides ample light and avoids shadows while working at the counters. Spacing of lights is also very important. The overhead lighting should be placed between 4-5 feet apart to assure you will have an even spread of light.

Wall sconces, floor and table lamps can all accent all your lighting needs for any of these rooms. The placement of lighting accessories is very important. Before you place a lamp in a corner because it looks good, make sure it will provide ample lighting for the area. Also, make sure your lighting accessories are not placed in an area where they will cause a glare against a television or computer screen.

Lighting Tips

To make a small room appear larger, try using uplights and place them strategically on the floor of the room.

To make a larger room appear more cozy, try using low-light wall sconces.

If you chose a large chandelier as your focal point in a room, make sure you don’t add other lighting accessories that will overpower your focal point.

Make sure you have lighting controls that are easily accessible to you in your home. It will be convenient to have fixtures switch from more than one location.

Use fluorescent lamps rather than bright lamps where possible. Fluorescents use about 70% less electricity than bright lamps. Fluorescent lamps are more expensive than a bright light bulb, but have ten times the life.

Clean light fixtures on a regular basis. This will allow more light to pass through and you can make the most of your lighting.

Consider three-way lamps; they make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light is not necessary.

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