Every designer will tell you that lighting has historically fallen in the “afterthought” category. Thankfully that is not the case in today’s design landscape. Thanks to a handful of talented artists and engineers from all over the world we now have a new way of thinking about how light can define our personal space.
Homeowners everywhere are starting to look up before they make any decisions about their home. Before you flip the switch, keep in mind there are some lighting design basics that are tried and true that can help you navigate your new world of lighting choices.
1. Consider the purpose of the room. How flexible does the lighting need to be and does it need to be portable and move around your space? You might want to consider cordless lighting for traveling from reading nook to cookbook.
How much natural light enters the room and are your windows facing north/south or east/west? Consider this. North facing rooms are the darkest but most consistent in the house. South facing rooms are consistent but much brighter. East facing rooms are brightest in the morning and west facing rooms are brightest in the afternoon.
2. Screens. Do they complete or complement? First of all, are there screens, permanent or mobile, in your room in question? Most people don’t even consider the screens in their home as a source of light.
Just walk into a pitch dark room and turn on a TV and your phone. The amount of cool light coming from your devices can affect your decision on how much lighting to choose, how big your lighting solutions should be and also what type of bulbs you choose.
Also consider that your big screens can act as very large mirrors. Might not want to place any large lights reflecting directly onto the sofa where you are watching. That goes the same for direct sunlight onto your screen depending on time of day.
3. Consider how light behaves after it leaves its source. Whether we are talking natural light or artificial light, the way light bounces around a room can make a big difference...if it bounces. Dark colors “absorb” light and lighter colors “bounce” light.
Yes a room that has white flat walls with white carpet and light furniture will be extremely bright. Think about that same room with high gloss paint, white marble floors, contemporary white reflective furniture and maybe a few large mirrors. Sunglasses, please. Now think of the opposite of that situation. Might want to consider all three components of basic lighting philosophy: ceiling/pendant, wall and table lighting solutions.
4. Scale. Scale. Scale. This is an obvious issue but one that is often overlooked. Of course, if you have a bigger space or taller ceilings you have the liberty to find larger lights for your home.
Not only do you have the freedom to go big, you have the responsibility to do so. If you have really small lights in a big space it can look very unplanned and not thought through. Conversely, if you have a smaller space you might want to shop accordingly.
5. All the small things. They really do add up! Here are some items to consider that might help after your lighting decisions are made.
Daylight bulbs (cooler light temperatures) are good for utilitarian rooms. Think kitchens, vanity room, bathrooms, garage. Soft white (warmer light temperatures) are great for creating an inviting and comforting mood. Think living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms.
If your light fixtures have shades make sure the seams or imperfections are facing a wall or hidden.
Do you need motion-censored light?
Do you need your lights on dimmers?
How clean your windows are can greatly affect how light enters your house.
Is your light needed for a human function like cooking, reading or gathering? Or is it needed to showcase a piece of art or sculpture, maybe a bookcase.
Would you like your lights to coordinate from your ceiling to your wall to your task lighting and table lamps? If so, you might want to consider a manufacturer that makes all three.
So some of the lighting questions you need to address might be age-old questions based on how we have historically behaved in our homes. But the new revolutionary landscape of lighting choices out there today is anything but.
So the next time you walk into
a new space or even your own, don’t forget to look up. There’s
a whole new world out there.
And it’s well lit.