Decorating with Lighting and Lamps
Lighting is often overlooked in most home remodeling and decorating projects. Typically it’s not even considered (thoughtfully) until the homeowner has completed the project and comes to the realization that the lighting is inadequate or worse – the current lighting casts unattractive shadows on beautiful artwork, furniture or even the entire room creating an unpleasant experience each and every time that room is entered.
When planning a home improvement project or even a minor redecorating project take into consideration the different types of lighting the room will require. Lighting for the purpose of room design can be categorized as one or more of the following: general, task and accent.
Overhead lighting, whether it’s a sparkling $10,000 hand-cut crystal chandelier or a $100 flourescent lighting box provides the largest quantity of lighting in the room. General lighting is all about maximum illumination.
Table lamps, torchieres and other accent or decorative light sources provide focused illumination on a small area. One of the most frequent errors homeowners make is to forget about adequate overhead lighting (general) and attempt to light large rooms with one to four accent lights. The results are always the same – garish shadows, harsh colors and tones, and the dreaded illumination “Bow Tie” effect which means that everything above the lampshade is drenched in light that gets darker and darker and the reverse is true of the light emanating from the bottom of the shade. Task lighting is additional lighting and should NEVER be used for general illumination.
Accent Lighting/Up Lighting/Down Lighting
Spotlights on artwork, plants or any object that you wish to create a dramatic visual effect using light.
Decorative Lighting and Lighting Fixtures
Table lamps, desk lamps, sewing/hobby lamps, under-cabinet lights, stair lights are great for limited lighting needs. Use them when you need focused illumination for reading, writing or working.
Floodlights (recessed and in a quantity for entire room illumination), track lights, strip lights, overhead light boxes, large chandeliers and other large ceiling lights provide general lighting
Mini-track lights, single purpose flood lights, small scale chandeliers and ceiling lights provide illumination to create dramatic or accent lighting .
As you noticed from the earlier discussion regarding decorative lighting and lighting fixtures that one or more lighting fixtures could be used as general, task or accent lighting. The reason for this is scale. A small chandelier hung over a dining room table will create ambient lighting that complements an intimate dinner. While a large chandelier hung in an entry hall would illuminate the entire hall with little need for light from any other source. So when planning for lighting ask yourself what type of lighting is needed for each room. You may find that you want track lighting as general lighting in the kitchen but most track lighting fixtures tend to be on the smallish side – so then you will need to find larger scale track lighting to provide the illumination the kitchen will require.
Keep the Light on your Design
Fixing a lighting design oversight can either be as inexpensive as buying a new table lamp or as expensive as having to rip out the incorrectly installed lighting layout and replacing it with the correct lighting design. One is an oops the other is a big OUCH.
So remember to keep lighting front and center in all of your home remodeling design plans. If not you may find yourself with a completely remodeled new kitchen with only two rows of recessed overhead lighting when you should have had four rows based on the size of the kitchen. You can’t blame the contractor – he just did what you told him to do.
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