Oct 042013
 

Halloween is less than one month away! If you’re thinking of decorating your home for the holiday, nothing can help turn your house into a festive sight like lighting. In minutes, you can turn your quaint cottage a ghoulish green, make your bungalow glow orange, or paint your front lawn an eerie yellow. Suddenly, your charming home becomes mysterious and thrilling to trick-or-treaters and passersby.

An impressive Halloween lighting design doesn’t take much time or effort to execute. It can even incorporate the outdoor lights you already use like up lights, outdoor recessed lights, spotlights, or floodlights. You just have to change the color by adding colored light filters in green, yellow, orange, and even blue – iconic Halloween colors. The colored light will work well on its own or as a backdrop for a more elaborate design:

  • Green light can turn your home into an over-the-top laboratory, bringing to mind bubbling viles and fluorescent beakers – you’ll half expect a mad scientist to pop out from behind the bushes with a monster of his own creation trailing close behind.  Continue reading »
Oct 022013
 

Love is in the air! Fall officially began last week, so we are in the throes of the autumn wedding season. Although the summer months have traditionally been the most popular for weddings, autumn weddings have steadily risen in popularity and nowadays, you’re just as likely to receive an orange maple leaf save-the-date as you are a frilly invite with a flower border.

But as we all (should have) learned in elementary school, when the seasons change, the angle of sunlight touching the earth changes as well, resulting in a different quality and duration of sunlight. While many people prefer the more “golden” tones of autumn afternoons (especially photographers!), it can certainly be challenging to keep your special day well-lit when the sun begins to set. But never fear! Here is a list of four ways lighting can save the day on your big day.

a guatemalan and italian inspired wedding lighting production 4 Ways Lighting Can Save the Day on Your Big Day

Image via http://extremeprodjs.com

1. Good lighting design can transform an event.

If you can, hire a lighting designer for your wedding. Great lighting can be the difference between a spectacular party and a “well, they tried hard.” Acclaimed lighting designer Bentley Meeker said that with the right lighting, a $25,000 wedding can look like a $75,000 wedding. Lighting design can be pricey, but it’s plenty cost-effective.

Sometimes event planners and wedding florists provide their own lighting, so be sure to ask about that when booking your big day. If they don’t, look into a lighting design firm that specializes in weddings. You can see from this photo (from a reception designed by Extreme Productions) how glamorous professional wedding lighting can be. If you can afford to go all out, you won’t be sorry.

The reason lighting at a wedding is so important is it can really make or break a venue’s ambiance. Whether you want a romantic vibe, like in the picture, or more of a warm, casual family feel, lighting can make a huge difference on how successful you are in achieving the aura you desire. You will want to look into professional lighting design, especially if your wedding takes place outside. Many venues have pre-approved lighting designers familiar with their codes, so make sure to find out when venue-hunting.

But if hiring a lighting designer is outside your budget, don’t freak out! There are plenty of ways for you to have great lighting at your wedding without breaking the bank.

Continue reading »

Sep 132013
 

Stock Photo Lamp 271x300 5 Questions To Ask Before Your Next Lighting ProjectWhether your room is bright or moody, big or small, top-of-the-line or thrift-store-chic, the wrong lighting will make it look bad. Your lighting scheme has the power to accent your favorite colors and shapes, to make your room functional and lovely. But the wrong lighting can ruin an otherwise beautiful room – distorting colors and creating unflattering shadows.

You can avoid these problems with a little extra planning and some know-how. You just have to understand what questions to ask.

Here are 5 things to think about before you create a new lighting scheme for your space:

1. Will these lights compliment my lifestyle?

If a space is uncomfortable, you’re not going to want to stick around there for long. One of the biggest mistakes people make when installing lights is not having a clear idea of how they’ll use the space.

If you plan on taking daily soaks in your bathtub, you don’t want recessed lights shining directly down into your eyes. If you like to cook elaborate meals in the kitchen, you don’t want your work space engulfed in shadow. If you want your living room to be a game room, a romantic hideout, and a place to read all in one, you don’t want lights that operate at only one brightness level.

How are you planning to use your space? Let’s work from there…

2. Will these lights match my color scheme? 

You can put a ton of time and effort into decorating your room just right, but when you add the wrong lights, all that isn’t worth a hill of beans.

Always pay special attention to the color temperature of your lights. It should flatter your color scheme, and you shouldn’t use lights with contrasting color temperatures in the same space. That can be jarring.

As a general rule, use lights with a warm color temperature (below 3,200K) with warm colors (reds, pinks, yellows), and lights with a cool color temperature (above 4,000K) with cool colors (blues, greens, whites). Using a cool light with a warm color can make it look washed out, while using a warm light with a cool color can make it look a little…wilted.

3. Will I have layers of light?

Ask any lighting designer what they think the first rule of lighting design is and they’ll tell you this: layer your lights. A single ceiling can never provide enough light for an entire room, not to mention it’s visually lame.

You should have at least 3 different light layers in your room: ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. In a living room, this might include recessed lights for overhead lighting, table lights or reading lights for task lighting, and tape lights lining certain architectural features for accent lighting. In a kitchen, this might mean you use track lighting on the ceiling for ambient light, under cabinet lights for task lighting, and a few picture lights to accent some artwork.

The key is to create points of visual interest, and diminish shadows. After all, this isn’t an old dungeon we’re talking about – it’s your house!    Continue reading »

 Posted by on September 13, 2013 at 3:51 pm
Sep 042013
 

You may have come across our most popular blog post of all time: “How To Layout Recessed Lighting in 4 Easy Steps.” It gives readers step-by-step instructions about how to create an ideal lighting scheme in any room by adding recessed cans. Recently, we were racking our brains about how to bring that information to you in an even more accessible way…

Then inspiration struck!

We’ll make an infographic about it. The business of mapping out your lights is so visual anyway, of course a solid visual aid would come in handy. Wouldn’t it be better if readers could see how to sketch out their rooms? If they could visualize how to space out their fixtures? Or observe different lighting configurations?

We thought so.

If you’re still in the dark about how to plan your recessed lights, get ready to learn. This infographic will teach you:

  • Where your lights should go on the ceiling.
  • How to create a focal point, or an even distribution of light.
  • The amount of space that should go between each light.
  • How to avoid unwanted, ugly shadows.

Recessed Lighting Layout Final Heres How To Map Out Your Recessed Lights (An Infographic)

Continue reading »

 Posted by on September 4, 2013 at 10:17 am
Aug 302013
 

Stock Photo Cove Lighting1 How To Light A Low CeilingHave you ever watched someone go spelunking? The spelunkers almost always come to a place in the cave where they have to squeeze their bodies between two huge slabs of rock and you think, my god, they’ll be trapped! How in the world are they going to get all the way through that tiny opening, and with all that gear to boot? You imagine the hard, weighty rock pressing in all around as you watch their tight, treacherous journey onward. Will they escape, or be stuck forever?

Bottom line. If you have a room that makes you feel this same vague, claustrophobish discomfort, it’s not okay. So your space doesn’t have ceilings like the Sistine Chapel. You’d be surprised at how airy and dramatic the right lighting can make your room feel – even if it has an extra-low ceiling.

Here are some tips to help you light that low ceiling:

1. Embrace width.

Hallway How To Light A Low Ceiling

As a rule, the bottom of any hanging light should be at least 6’8″ off the ground – unless it’s over a table or island. When you have an 8′ ceiling, this doesn’t give you a whole lot of room to play. If you long for the grand impact of a decorative ceiling light, try a larger low-profile fixture that stays close to the ceiling, but holds some real estate up there. It’s dramatic without looking cluttered, and it will help you avoid the drama of a gash to the head.

2. Use more than one light.

Fluorescent Kitchen How To Light A Low Ceiling

A room with a single light fixture is depressing. Kick the shadows by adding multiple light sources. A few stylish flush-mount ceiling lights. Some table lamps. An accent light here or there. When you have multiple lights shining in different directions, the space will feel lighter and more open. Make sure to place ceiling lights at least 3′ from the wall, any closer and harsh shadows will make your ceiling seem lower.  Continue reading »

Aug 212013
 

I remember way back when I was a sophomore in college, I had a pretty weird housing situation. Unlike most dorm rooms where you can barely get the door open without smashing into your desk, my dorm room was huge. Uncomfortably huge. I shared it with two other roommates, and yes, our furniture took up a lot of the space, but as I stared out from my lofted bed in the corner at the expansive walls and high ceiling, I couldn’t help thinking it felt more like a gymnasium than a bedroom.

Eventually, I put up some posters and learned to ignore it. Then, I moved out.

Large rooms can be nice though, right? In them, you can spread out, or have parties – they’re so versatile and the decor possibilities are seemingly endless. But when you’re charged with making a huge space feel full and cozy – like a home – things can get real. Suddenly, the room is an ocean, and you are drowning.

While you can add furniture and wall hangings to your heart’s content, there’s nothing like a quality lighting scheme to fill a room without making it feel cluttered.

Warm light bouncing off the ceiling and walls gives you control over the entire area of your space. It will turn a huge cave of a room into a place that can envelop you.

Here’s how:

Divide you room into three sections. Add lighting to all.

If you’re at all into art, photography, or design, you’ve probably heard of the rule of thirds. Applied to a room, this rule has you split the wall into 3 equal, balanced parts – the top, the middle, and the bottom. These are your three different “design levels.” Furniture or wall paneling can go at the bottom, art or other wall hangings in the middle, and the top remains as is.

Accent Lighting in Toe Kicks Halo Lighting Around TV Screens 682x1024 How To Light A High Ceiling

By adding lights to each of these layers, the space will feel fuller and more cohesive, with focal points to diminish the room’s large, intimidating feel. Add table lamps, step lights, or uplights to the bottom portion. Floor lamps, wall sconces, or low-hanging pendants can go in the middle. The top should have recessed cans, track lighting, or larger, higher hanging lights or fans.

high ceilings decorating freshome How To Light A High Ceiling

Image via Freshome.com

Finally! You can make your hanging light dreams come true. Continue reading »

 Posted by on August 21, 2013 at 12:15 pm
Aug 192013
 

Wall Sconce 300x224 Good Lighting & Bright Lighting Are Not The Same Thing.When you think of a room with good lighting, what picture comes to mind? Does your room have skylights or giant windows? How about recessed cans or a constellation of pendants? What is the color temperature?

Bright, alone, doesn’t cut it.

There are a lot of different ways to light a room so it’s stylish and functional, comfortable and versatile. It just takes planning. Use these guidelines to get started:

  • Good lighting can change in a second. A well-lit room isn’t necessarily visible from space. You need different light levels for different tasks. Adjustable “layers” of different lights and dimmer switches will let you enjoy the room in more ways.
  • Good lighting embraces shadow. Large shadows along the walls and ceiling can turn a room into a dungeon. However, the right combination of light and shadow can help sculpt a room, giving it more character and atmosphere. Don’t be afraid of shadows that accentuate interesting textures or architecture in your space.
  • Good lighting isn’t distracting. Some lights shine right in your eyes. Some lights have ugly color temperatures. Some lights hum. Some lights heat up your whole room. When installing yours, make sure they’re not this obnoxious. Continue reading »
Aug 122013
 

As much as some good task lighting and a ceiling full of recessed cans will make a room come alive, there’s nothing like airy, natural light. You can change your home’s color, its style, and even its structure, but when it comes to the amount of sun you get, you can rarely change much. How much natural light you home receives depends on so many different factors both in and outside of your house – the direction your home faces, the topography and structures around, the number of windows you have – these can be costly or just impossible to fix.

So, when you’re on the market for a new house, be sure to consider the lighting potential of any dwelling – lest you end up with a dungeon, or an oven.

Here are some questions to keep in mind when scoping out a new property:

1. Which way does the house face?

Normally, south-facing homes get sun at the front of the house, and for most of the day. They tend to be brighter and warmer. A house that faces north gets light at the back and is cooler and darker. This may be especially important to note depending on your climate. When it’s cool most of the year, you may want a house that’s naturally a little warmer, if it’s warm for most of the year, you may prefer a house that doesn’t make you cook.

Also be sure to take a look around your property and note what could potentially affect your light. Does your house face an open field, or another row of houses? Are you at the base of a hill that will cast a shadow for most of the day, or at the top, almost always exposed to sunlight? These factors will influence the brightness in your home, and also the temperature.

bigstock modern house in the night 15661763 Seeing the Light: How Much Sun Will Your New House Get?

2. How and when will you use the rooms? Continue reading »

Aug 052013
 

So, your living space isn’t exactly Versailles. Even if the ceilings are low, windows are few and far between, and architecture leaves much to be desired, you can still transform your home into a bright, artful, and interesting space.

Just look to the light.

No matter how boring or boxy a room might be, lighting can always give it color, texture, and form. Here are some ways you can use lighting to turn a drab space into something really special:

1. Wash a wall with light.

Wall washing is a lighting technique that can add beauty and visual interest almost anywhere – it uses recessed cans with wall wash trims to evenly illuminate walls. This technique will call attention to texture on your walls, and will perfectly highlight wall hangings. Wall washing is especially helpful for smaller rooms – by emphasizing the vertical surfaces, your space will appear to expand. Check out this article to learn the details.

Stock Photo Wall Washing How To Save A Boring Room (With Light!)

2. Get creative with accent lighting.

If your room is literally just a box, accent lighting will save you from the design doldrums. First, make sure you have light coming from different angles throughout your room – downlights, floor lamps, cabinet lights, desk lamps – this will give a boring, flat room more depth and dimension. Next, use accent lights to play up interesting objects in your room. For instance, a puck light used to highlight a small sculpture on your shelf can really play up the angles. Finally, consider colored accent lights for a surprising, unconventional impact.

Blue Indirect Lighting in a Kitchen 646 How To Save A Boring Room (With Light!)

Continue reading »

Jul 262013
 

A wine cellar is more than just a place to stack and store your bottles. It’s about drama, hospitality, and convenience. The lights you choose to use in your wine cellar play a huge role in creating the right ambiance.

Here are a few ways you can use lighting to create the perfect wine cellar:

1. Low-heat light sources.

Incandescent and halogen light bulbs give off far too much heat to be used close to wine. Heat can easily damage your precious collection, so stick to the light sources that stay relatively cooler, like LEDs.

Rope Lights In Wine Cellar 6 Ways To Light A Wine Cellar

2. Ceiling lights.

If you have floor-to-ceiling shelving to store your wine, you may want to illuminate them with LED downlights. You can install them on your ceiling with special wall washing trims to highlight the angles of your wine racks. Track lighting works great for this too. For more on wall washing, check out this article. You can also put these lights on a dimmer switch to control the light level in the room for different occasions. Continue reading »

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