Thursday, September 21, 2006

Tips on room by room lighting

Each room of your home has a different lighting requirement – here are some things to consider to enable you to get the best out of each room.

The Hallway

  • Hallways can be enclosed dark spaces – but as the entrance to many houses the goal is to make them warm and welcoming. Lighting should be warm. Also consider skylights to create shafts of light.
  • Referred light can also be used to brighten up a hallway – bringing light in from other rooms at ceiling height – either through open sections – or through glazing.

The Living Room

  • A room used for a variety of purposes needs a variety of lighting sources – ambient lighting for general activity, kinetic lighting from fireplaces to create warmth , accent lighting and decorative lighting to draw attention to particular features.
  • Dimmer switches are essential to create lighting specific to the room’s many uses.
  • Mixing tungsten and halogen lighting will provide ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ areas.
  • Mini spotlights and coloured lights can be used in and around shelving to highlight special objects and create dramatic effects.
  • Remember that generally, down-lighting has a flattening effect while carefully used ‘up-lighting’ creates drama.

The Kitchen

  • First and foremost, kitchen lighting has to be functional. Mood lighting is all very well, but not much help when you’re trying to chop an onion. Good task lighting over the bench and stove are important.
  • Natural light is very important too. Consider a skylight over the work-stations to bring more light in – but be aware that you do not necessarily want the kitchen floded with direct sunshine in the middle of summer.
  • Be mindful of the fact that a body working at a kitchen bench shouldn’t block the light source, throwing the work station into shadow.
  • Consider the effect that reflective surfaces will have on the overall lighting scheme. Stainless steel benches and kitchen appliances will reflect a lot of cold light to great effect – but it can also be warmed up with warm lighting.
    Light under cupboards, or shelves can create dramatic effects, especially when glassware is lit.

The Dining Room

  • This is the room where decorative and accent lighting are most important. Nobody wants to each under intense lighting, so keep the mood soft.
  • Dimmers are essential, allowing you to adjust the light level down to a low level when you are using candles, or to lift the luminosity for everyday meals with the family.
  • An adjustable light over the centre of the table that can be raised up to spread light, or dropped down to focus it works well.
  • Think more about lighting walls, than lighting the table.
    If you have a dark table, be aware that this will absorb a lot of light - while a glass table will reflect it.

The Bathroom

  • Bathrooms, like kitchens, require good task lighting. The mirror must be well lit to make shaving and applying make-up easy.
  • Many bathrooms tend to be over-lit and clinical. Don’t forget that you may want to relax in the bath in a more subdued light – or even candle light.
  • Lighting around mirrors needs to be carefully designed to avoid glare and create a flattering light.

The Study

  • One of the most important things to consider when lighting a study is the need to create good ambient light without creating glare – particularly when you are working at a computer screen.
  • A good way to achieve this is by using a wall mounted up-lighter fitted with a soft reflector bulb. The lower the light is mounted the greater the area of ceiling that is lit.
  • A good directional task light is also important to allow flexibility – an anglepoise lamp is ideal.
  • Halogen lamps provide a white light which is the best light for reading, writing and working on the computer.
  • Bookshelves and storage areas also require lighting – and can look dramatic with accent lighting.

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