One of the easiest yet most important tricks designers use to make any home look fresh, updated and custom is one that anyone can use no matter your home’s size or style, whether it’s a new build, a remodel, or just new décor. Lighting, as in the actual light cast from fixture, not the fixture itself, is an integral part of any design and is very often overlooked by the DIYer. The layering of lighting in any space is the real key to adding depth, function and comfort. We’ve all heard about the three general layers of lighting: ambient, task, and accent. But knowing where to use what, how much of it, and how to make it as functional as it is decorative are more difficult to figure out. The following advice will give the explanations you need to layout your lighting like a pro!
Just like furniture, finishes, architectural details and other elements define a style, lighting has a huge stylistic impact on a space for several reasons. It casts out shadows, making a room look bigger, or creates shadows, which adds depth and leaves certain points or pieces highlighted. It enhances textures and creates reflections that add to the interest of a space.
Lighting creates a mood or atmosphere: a chandelier centered over a table with dim recessed lights arrayed around the rest of the ceiling can make a dining room intimate; uplights and under cabinet lights in a kitchen make it look alive and highlight the finishes, as well as make it more functional; combining recessed can lights with tall windows make for a bright, welcoming living space any time of day. The more you layer the lighting using recessed cans, ceiling mounted fixtures, track lighting, uplights, table and floor lamps, natural lighting, and dimmers, the more you will enhance and control your look.
Remember what automatically happens when someone walks into a dark room where a movie is playing and switches on the only light? Kinda made you squint just thinking about it, huh? Layering can and should be functional as well as beautiful. Dimmers are a great way to make almost any ambient light functional. They are inexpensive and not as difficult to install as you would think! (Or you could hire an electrician for around $65). During the different times of day, whoever is in the room can adjust the lights to the changing amounts of natural daylight coming in as well as to their task and preferences. You don’t have to be remodeling and tearing out the walls in order to replace the dimmer switches either. Just note that you will have to pay more attention to the bulb you put in the fixture now! Not all bulbs are dimmable. Now your annoying movie disruption will hardly be noticeable.
Now, my pet peeve: when it comes to light switches, dimmers and plugs, make sure they make sense. In one room of my house, you don’t hit the main light until you get to the furthest of three switches! Still haven’t figured out what the others are for. This is, of course, easiest to control when you are building or remodeling, but if you can, really pay attention to the order and location of the controls. Putting certain switches further into the room, or using the on/off switches on a lamp rather than connecting it to a switch are both easy ways to simplify the controls. Many designers say there is no such thing as too much lighting! As long as you can adjust it.
Your Local Interior Designer,