Lighting is an excellent way for homeowners to set the tone of their homes. Poorly lit homes can make rooms feel cramped, emitting an aura of lethargy or depression, whereas properly lit homes can make rooms feel more open, adding to the vivacity and drama of a house. While most homeowners recognize lighting as an essential feature of a functional home, they often forget that lighting is used for style as well as function. Here are 10 tips on how to merge function with style and light up your home!
Layer Your Lighting. Julia Rezek, owner of Julia Rezek Lighting Design, explains, there are three basic types of lighting: general, task, and accent. General lighting encompasses a room's main source of light and is used for general activities, such as socializing and watching television. Task lighting is limited to localized areas and is used for specific activities, such as sewing and reading. Accent lighting is introduced in an area to highlight significant architectural details or artwork. Add more dimension to a room by including all three types.
Stick to the Style of Your Home. "Don't mix styles," warns Christie Reilly, a designer with Marvel Lighting and Design of Medford. "Choosing lighting is like picking out artwork: you have to like it, but it also has to go with the style of the home." Mixing styles can create conflicting moods in an area and can also decrease the value of a house. A modern chandelier in a Tuscan-style home, for example, will turn off potential buyers seeking a certain aesthetic.
Get Creative with General Lighting. General lighting is a necessary feature of every room. However, homeowners don't have to limit themselves to traditional light fixtures. Rezek suggests adding interest to an area by lighting hallways with wall sconces, kitchens with hidden fluorescents mounted atop cabinets, and living rooms with torchieres, floor-standing fixtures that bounce light off of the ceiling.
Add Dimmers to Your Switches. Both Rezek and Reilly agree that adding dimmers to switches is an effective way to adjust a room's mood and save energy. For example, a dimmer switch will allow you to turn your dining area into a romantic atmosphere with dim, candle-like light or a bright, vivacious atmosphere for a family game night.
Use Existing Plugs for Inexpensive Task Lighting. You can add a lot of style and light to a room by purchasing table lamps or floor lamps. Pick a lamp design that matches the style of the room and plug it into the wall behind a favorite reading chair.
Always Provide Under-Cabinet Lighting. "One of the most important forms of task lighting," informs Rezek, "is for the kitchen area where you do a lot of chopping and food preparation." She suggests mounting lights beneath cabinets, so countertops are sufficiently lit from above.
Highlight Architectural Treasures. Highlight interesting architectural features with track lighting or recessed down lighting. Arches, stained glass windows, columns, built-in tables, or other art add to the character of the home and should be focal points.
Use Indirect Lighting on Valuable Artwork. Lights mounted atop artwork that hang over the frame can fade the artwork, heat the paint unevenly, and fall into paintings, creating burns. Rezek suggests using indirect light, such as recessed lighting or adjustable ceiling-mounted spotlights.
Add Curb Appeal. "Lighting is what sells the house," says Reilly. "Homeowners need to pay particular attention to curb appeal." Light up your walkway, a favorite tree, an intricate garden bench, a gazebo, or exterior architectural details to obtain that much-desired curb appeal.
Go Green. "Fluorescents are really popular right now. They save more energy than regular incandescent light bulbs," explains Rezek. "But there are other more stylish ways to save energy." Rezek suggests adding dimmers to all toggle switches and investing in the up-and-coming LED (light emitting diode) light sources.