How to Best Light up Your Life; Starting With Your Home.
No family member likes to spend too long at my Aunt’s house. Her poorly lit living space leaves us dazed, feeling like we’ve spent hours under the powerful fluorescent lights of an interrogation cell. In her home, lighting doesn’t fulfil it’s two key roles; to provide for the room’s function and to instruct the feeling she’d like to create. Of course, it’s difficult to offer advice without breaching my role as a respectful niece. However, if I could, I’d suggest that if she made a few minor alterations to the positioning and strength of her lights, everybody would truly love to stay for dessert.
Whether you like your rooms minimalistic, extravagant or somewhere inbetween, here are four questions to help find lighting solutions which fit your room’s space, tone and palette.
1) What will the light’s function be?
If you’re lighting a room for reading or cooking, for example, you’ll need task lighting, concentrated light, perhaps in the form of a downlight or reading light. Task lighting is most effective when there is a great contrast with the brightness of the light and its surroundings.
Alternatively, if you’d like general lighting, you’ll need to illuminate the entire room. A combination of floor, table and ceiling lights can create this effect if natural light is not abundant.
Accent lighting can transform a piece of art or other object into a focal point. An elegant torchiere lamp or wall sconce would be fitting.
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2) How do I want the room to look?
Perhaps you’d like to make a room seem larger than it is, in which case, natural light, or incandescent artificial light is key. If you don't have big windows to allow natural light to pour in, a great tip is to place your lights high up. This encourages guests to look vertically as opposed to horizontally, thus making the space appear wider.
Playing with lights/lamps at differing levels is a perfect way to make the room more visually stimulating whilst helping to avoid unflattering and unhelpful shadows created by strong overhead lights. What’s more, floor and table lamps can generally be purchased and installed at a lower cost and are far easier to change in the future than overhead lights, making them less of a commitment.
3) What type of lampshade will I need?
For any level of lighting, you’ll often need a shade. However, picking a shade which complements the existing style of the room can seem daunting.
Simply, the lighter the colour of your shade, the more light will be released into the room. The lampshade lining will also have its own effect. White and translucent linings project more light thus suiting lamps which are the main source of light in a room.
Conversely, metallic and darker coloured inners, diffuse the light emitted by the bulb, creating ambience.
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4) How do I want the room to make me and my guests feel?
When a room has a natural, bright and airy feel, its guests are generally made to feel lighter and stress free. This can make for a perfect working environment. However, it is worth noting that too many bright artificial lights can create an industrial feel.
A darker tone can provide ambience, making the room cozy and intimate. Low light can also add age if the room is decorated with antiques. Dark coloured shades with tassels and embellishments can also help to achieve this look. However, avoid making the room feel too heavy as guests may feel on edge rather than relaxed.
If you often use a room to hold dinner parties, perhaps opt for a hanging light or chandelier, which adds glamour, excitement and elegance.
My final piece of advice would be, to play with your lights and the shadows they create, for no lighting installation is irreversible.