Did you know that as we age, we tend to need more light?
But even if you’re in your twenties and buying a home, you probably want it to be well lit. Regardless of your age, you will incorporate varying degrees of light throughout your rooms since different rooms will serve different purposes. Here are some considerations when planning out – or planning to modify – the lighting in your own home.
What is the purpose of the room? Is it for reading and working? Or is it a cozy room used mostly for conversation? Maybe it’s your TV room or your kitchen. What do you want to highlight in the space (think focal point) and what do you want to blend into the background, if anything? Answers to these questions will identify the type and amount of lighting you will need, so don’t underestimate their importance.
The key is understanding the three types of lighting: Ambient (think overhead ceiling fixture), task (desk lamp) and accent (a light mounted over a painting). Most rooms benefit from layering more than one type.
Types of Lighting
Ambient lighting is the most common type, and in years past, often the only kind built into homes. It offers overall light and is used most commonly with ceiling fixtures to light a room with a light switch. Plug-in torchiere lights beaming light upward and wall sconces are other fixtures that provide ambient light.
Task lighting, as its name implies, is specific to a function within your home. For example, under-cabinet lighting is commonly installed to deliver light directly to the work surface below – your kitchen counter. A floor lamp positioned beside a reading chair offers ample light to the reader, while a desk lamp or even wall-mounted reading lamps in the bedroom are other examples of task lighting.
Accent lighting is used to draw the eye to something in particular. Paintings on a wall, a bookcase in a home library and even specimen trees in a front yard are beautifully showcased with the use of well-placed accent lighting.
Don’t forget that natural sunlight can be used to its advantage when planning out your lighting needs. If you do a great deal of reading or paperwork during the daytime, plan your desk space to be under or beside a window.
Consider installing dimmers wherever possible. There are very few areas in the home that would not benefit from one. Dimmers can set the mood in any room with the turn of a knob, not to mention the energy savings you will realize; dimming your lamp just 15% will greatly extend the life of your bulbs. In general, dimmers are not very expensive and are a worthwhile investment. If you choose to place them throughout your home, call Mike at D4 Construction (+1 250-572-4812) to give you a free estimate. He’s experienced and professional – and can install all your dimmers as well as help you create a lighting plan for your home.
Once you’ve planned out the purpose and needs of each room, you’ll need to choose the fixtures you want to install or use in them.
Types of Fixtures
The variety of fixtures available include architectural fixtures such as soffit and cove lighting. These sources of light are placed up high near the ceiling and, depending on which you choose, direct light up toward the ceiling or downward along the wall. These types of lighting are used primarily for general room lighting, or ambient light.
Recessed or pot lights are commonly used in kitchens providing a directed light beam to a particular area, often straight down. These are commonly installed over the sink area, as well as throughout the kitchen.
Ceiling light fixtures are undoubtedly the most common, and the ones you often find in every room of older homes. They consist of single or multiple bulbs within a glass or plastic cover. A light switch, usually located at the room’s entrance, turns it on and off.
Pendant lights are often seen hanging over a kitchen island or breakfast bar. They come in countless colors and styles and can be easily incorporated into the overall interior design. Pendant lights can be hung as a single unit or in a series; either way they drop from the ceiling and not only offer extra illumination, but also subtly define spaces.
Chandeliers are similar in that they can be used to define a space and are often associated with dining rooms. Today, chandeliers are not just the formal, crystal dangles of yesteryear, but come in a variety of styles to suit just about any homeowner. Some people even choose to install chandeliers in their dressing closets!
Track lighting is fairly self-explanatory, consisting of individual lights housed within a track that is attached directly to the ceiling or suspended on wires from it. These lights are flexible in that they can be positioned anywhere along the track and each individual light directed to wherever the homeowner wants extra illumination.
Wall sconces can also be used anywhere in the home, and often flank a fireplace or a bed. Depending on the direction that the light is projected – up or down – sconces can provide ambient or task lighting.
Lamps come in countless styles and are not just for tabletops. Floor lamps are very popular and can be moved around the home as needs change. Lamps make effective task lights and most people have multiple lamps within their homes.
Room by Room
Once you’ve decided on the purpose for each area in your home, you’ll undoubtedly recognize the various needs inherent to each:
- Your kitchen may require bright and task lighting such as under-cabinet lights, and natural light is useful especially over the sink area. A well placed pot light over the sink for overcast days is a great idea since much time is spent at the sink. Pendant lights over the breakfast bar or kitchen island will be much appreciated by those preparing food, and dimmers work great here, as well, once the work is done.
- Depending on its size, your dining room or breakfast nook might do just fine with a single ceiling light or chandelier on a dimmer switch. Wall sconces in your dining room, however, can add a lovely, relaxed atmosphere to the room when used alone, without another light source turned on.
- A bathroom used for shaving and putting on makeup needs good light without shadows. For this reason, you will often see lights placed alongside or over the bathroom mirrors. Ambient light also works well and in tandem in your bathrooms. If you love relaxing in a hot tub at day’s end, be sure to install a dimmer here, too.
- A living room or den used for television and game playing might need varying degrees of light. After the electronics are all turned off, turning down the lights offers an environment more conducive to conversation.
- Bedrooms are usually a more private and subdued space without a lot of family activity. Here, ambient and task lighting is desirable if reading in bed is a habit. If it’s a child’s room, then task lighting at a homework desk makes sense. If this room is just used for sleeping and perhaps a little reading, wall sconces or other reading lights positioned over the bed on the wall will provide the additional needed task light.
- A home office is an area of your house that will probably use a combination of ambient, natural, and lots of task lighting. If your children are grown and gone and you’re turning one of the extra bedrooms into an office, consider your working habits. Do you get up early and finish before dinner, or are you a night owl? A room with lots of natural sunlight streaming through a window may be the best choice for the early riser.
Once you identify the purpose for each area within this room, make your choices accordingly.
A further consideration in your overall lighting plan is the type of bulb you choose. Incandescent, fluorescent, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), halogen and xenon bulbs are all useful for different reasons. Even different coloured bulbs can add fun to a den, bar area or spa bath. Your choices are vast, so do your research before you buy another lamp.
Consider calling on a professional with experience in all these bulb types to suggest the right ones for each room in your house. Need help with that? Call Mike Spruyt at D4 Construction at +1 250-572-4812. He’s highly qualified to guide you in your decisions regarding your home lighting needs. After all, a bright light is not necessarily the right light for your room and your needs. Let Mike guide you to optimize the efficiency and atmosphere of your home.
Lighting is one of the best ways you can make a huge impact in any space. If you’re building a home, you should ideally have these decisions made before the walls go up and wiring installed. But retrofitting an older home with proper lighting sources is very do-able. Research, plan and then call on a professional to make it happen. What a difference the right lighting can make in your home!