5 Questions To Ask Before Your Next Lighting Project

Stock-Photo-LampWhether 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!    (more…)

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How To Light A Low Ceiling

Stock-Photo-Cove-LightingHave 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

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

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.  (more…)

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Good Lighting & Bright Lighting Are Not The Same Thing.

SconceWhen 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. (more…)

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Seeing the Light: How Much Sun Will Your New House Get?

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.

Modern Home Lighting

2. How and when will you use the rooms? (more…)

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How To Save A Boring Room (With Light!)

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.

Wall Washing Lights

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

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5 Tips For Great Nursery Lighting

Comfort and convenience – these should be your two main goals when creating a nursery lighting scheme. Babies are extra-sensitive to harsh lighting, so you should use lights that are gentle and calming to their young eyes. However, you still need enough light to perform necessary tasks quickly and easily.

Just follow these 5 lighting rules, and your nursery will be in ship-shape and ready for baby in no time:

1. Choose soft ceiling lights.

Image via HGTV.com
Image via HGTV.com

You never want bright, severe ceiling lights shining down into your baby’s eyes. Ideally, your overhead lighting should be shielded or diffused with a shade or cover. Hanging lights like pendants or chandeliers are probably your best choice for ambient lighting. If you have recessed lights or track lighting in your nursery, make sure none shine directly on the crib. (more…)

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