Lighting Your Home
Lighting Your Home
By Mary Courtney
Have you ever walked by a house at night, your eyes drawn to the soft glow from within, much like a lantern that beckons seductively? This is a house you always want to come home to.
Atmosphere is everything. Well-designed lighting can change a room, create a mood and enhance the way you live. It’s full of possibilities. Light can animate a room and at night the light from well-placed sources will glow and shimmer. Intimate lighting draws you in like candle light. A mix of lighting sources will give you the flexibility to create different moods. You need to have contrast for visual interest.
Here are a few suggestions. Throughout your living areas use a few tall floor lamps with large shades. These will create inviting pools of light and will also cast shadows. There is a beauty in shadowy corners that brings you into the mystery of a space. Small lamps, placed on a chest, a desk, or on a table, bring a soft glow, adding another dimension.
One good feature about lamps is that they are portable. You can move them around, even from room to room, to see how they work for you. Try different locations, keeping in mind what you want to accomplish. Different types of light-bulbs will also give you more options, just be sure to check the maximum allowed wattage for each fixture. Having a dimmer control on all lights, including lamps, works best whenever you want to change a mood.
Changing the lampshade can drastically change the look of a lamp and it is easy to do. Any time you are looking for a new shade always bring the lamp with you. You will soon realize why this is important. It can be overwhelming to look at all of the many choices. And, the multitude of sizes available can be daunting. However, by trying different ones you will soon see which is best for your particular lamp. Ask the advice of the shop’s staff; their years of experience are invaluable. For a little bit of effort and not a lot of money you will have created a “new” lamp.
In the dining room, in addition to a decorative ceiling fixture, add a floor lamp in the corner and a table lamp on the buffet. By keeping each fixture’s control set at a low level you will wrap your room in soft light and intimacy. A few candles on the table will complete the scene.
Three of the “rules” of good lighting are to include down-light, up-light and task light in each area. They each serve a particular purpose and together they balance the light in a space and provide what is needed. Down-lights can be any tall lamp or fixture where the light shines downward, up-lights will have their source pointed towards the ceiling and would include fixtures placed on the floor, perhaps in a corner or near a plant. Task lighting will always be directed towards the surface being used.
Down-lights recessed in the ceiling banish shadows, are not very flattering, and they seldom accomplish what is needed. A better way to use down-lighting is to have the light wash the walls giving the perception of brightness without the glare. This can be very effective when hanging art; a low level of light shining on them especially enhances sculptures and textiles.
The kitchen offers many options for versatility in lighting. There will be times when you will want a high level of direct task lighting over a work area or island, yet you also sometimes will want those areas to have subdued lighting. Dimmer controls. Don’t live in your home without them.
Placing a lovely table lamp at the end of a kitchen counter is an element of surprise, not usually expected, yet can be dramatic and beautiful. Try this. After all the cooking is done, turn out the overhead lights, light the lamp and bask in the warm glow.
This is perfect time to have a glass of our fine Sonoma Valley wine.
Mary Courtney Interior Design, www.marycourtneydesigns.com, 707-721-6175