Interior Lighting Fundamentals of the Pros!!
Your home Interior Lighting Plan affects the attitude and mood that your rooms project.
Lighting can make a space feel playful, welcoming, romantic or cold.
It can draw out and showcase other design elements like color, furnishings, art, architectural features and varied material surfaces and textures...It can also overpower and "wash-out" those design choices so that they virtually disappear.
The home interior lighting fundamentals on this page will take you a long way. With a little study and planning, you can come up with a terrific lighting scheme to match and compliment your overall Interior Design plan.
Home Interior Lighting includes both artificial and natural light.
Most of us love natural light and go out of our way to bring as much as possible into our homes.
Don't forget to consider sources of natural light when working on your home's Interior Design plan.
Kitchens and Baths are both areas where natural home interior lighting can lift spirits.
I'll discuss natural light in greater detail when we talk about window treatments...Keep in mind though, that thinking about your main sources of natural light is a great place to start your home interior lighting plan.
If you're planning a major Interior Design face-lift and natural light brings you joy, look to where your can add new sources.
Installing French doors, skylights, glass block, larger windows and new door units with sidelights (side windows) are all ways to bring more natural light into your home.
An important tip when purchasing new windows or skylights is to make sure they have low E glass. Low E stands for low emissivity and refers to an invisible metallic coating that gives glass insulating properties and really protects against fading.
A Lighting Plan
When laying out a plan for lighting fixtures, you'll be considering the three main types of artificial light...They are categorized by their functions.
Ambient lighting is overall, general illuminations that lights an otherwise dark space.
Ambient lighting can come from flood style lights in recessed ceiling fixtures or surface mounted track lighting.
Lamps that provide lighting for smaller room zones like conversation areas and reading nooks near bookshelves are also sources of ambient light as their light combines with and contributes to a room's overall general lighting. Upward illumination from wall sconces is a popular trend in ambient lighting.
To start your home interior lighting plan get out your tape measure, ruler and graph paper and draw your room's footprint
Start by drawing with circles the main sources of your room's Ambient light.
Indicate where your existing electrical outlets and switches are. It's a nice option to have Ambient lighting on dimmer switches so that the lighting can be softened or brightened to set different moods.
Use one color pencil or pen to indicate existing fixtures, outlets and switches and another color to indicate where you want to add more.
Three way switches regulate the same fixture from different locations such as the different entrance ways into a room.
I always start with Ambient lighting when working up a new home interior lighting plan.
Task lighting, as its name implies, refers to light sources directed on areas--a bathroom vanity, a kitchen counter, a reading chair--where greater light is needed to perform a specific task.
Reading lamps, under-cabinet lights, hanging pendant lights and spot lights in recessed ceiling fixtures are all examples of Task lighting.
The kitchen lighting at the left is a typical example of the mix of Ambient and Task lighting needed for this busy family hub.
Lights mounted under the upper cabinets, pendant lights hanging over the kitchen island and spot lights in recessed fixtures that are directed at the sink and other work areas are all Task lights.
Ambient light comes from other recessed fixtures fitted with flood lights and also from the combination of illumination the Task lights contribute.
Kitchens, you may have guessed, need the most illumination...And, it pays to reflect on your work habits in this and other rooms as you work out your lighting design.
Accent lighting will be the third source of illumination you include in your plan.
Accent lights can be spot lighting that illuminates a painting, an architectural feature or a wall of books...Wall washer lights are flood lights directed on walls to highlight interesting texture, multiple art pieces, or simply an accent color.
In the picture at the top of this page, ambient lighting comes from recessed ceiling fixtures...Other ceiling fixtures, fitted with directional spot lamps, provideTask lighting on the piano and the entertainment center, while accent lightsdraw attention to objects of interest on the mantle.
In the formally furnished Sitting Room above, we see Accent lighting directed on the art above the fireplace and the mirror image vases...A variation of Task lighting illuminates the passages into other rooms and areas of the home.
Candles and the light from a fire in a fireplace create a special kind of Accent lighting...Sometimes called kinetic lighting, because of the movement of flame, these sources always provide warm, fascinating and original plays of light off painted and reflective surfaces.
Lamps and Light Fixtures serve dual design functions being both a source of light and also an object of visual interest.
They can and should be art objects in themselves, contributing to the overall Interior Design effect...They can even be a rooms focal point, as is often the case with a Dining Room chandelier...Or, they can create a great contrasting accent of color or texture.
As you think about and work out your home interior lighting plan, take time to familiarize yourself with the many styles of fixtures and lamps available.
Part of your job is to compile a budget and lighting cost vary greatly from fixture to fixture and from supplier to supplier. Sometimes quality is reflected in the cost...and sometimes it's not.
Lighting specialty stores and lighting departments in home remodeling centers are usually staffed with very knowledgeable salespeople who can help you refine your choices.
These stores along with online lighting stores are great places to discover fixtures that will suit your needs at your individual budget.
Kathy LaMontag - Interior Designer