Home Lighting as a Decorative Element
If you listen to the professionals, lighting your living and working spaces can help you be more productive, lift your spirits and restore your relaxation. So, here we present some of their underlaying concepts of how to do it.
Designer are almost unanimous to suggest that every room should have a mix of lighting,
including overhead, accent and task lights
Any experienced designer will tell you that lighting is an essential element to consider “beforehand” and not as an afterthought when you’re decorating a room.
Just listen to Theo Richardson, the director of development at Rich Brilliant Willing, the Brooklyn-based design studio known for its striking LED fixtures and he will tell you that “Light is a powerful thing”, “The right light lifts the mood, inspires productivity and motivates us. At home, light enlivens the little things — our morning routines, or the moments we spend with friends.”
If that’s the case, don’t be tempted to spend “all” of your time picking out furnishings or puzzling over layouts, considering that lighting can completely transform a space — not just by brightening dark corners, but by affecting your emotions.
Flood the Kitchen with Light
One place where bright light is more important than ambience is the kitchen.
Mr. Nathan Orsman, a lighting designer based in New York City and Southampton suggests flooding the space by installing high-hats or recessed lights along the edge of the ceiling. If you have a kitchen island, consider hanging pendants overhead, he said, which will light the space without taking up room you might need to eat or prepare food. Also, you’ll be able “to see your guests without having to look around a hanging light.”
And don’t forget under-cabinet light: Running LED light strips on the bottom of your upper cabinets is the easiest way to create an evenly lighted counter space for food prep and cooking.
Most designers agree that you need more than one source of light in a room including overhead, accent and task lights.
Nathan Orsman recommends to start with a hanging a decorative ceiling fixture near the center of the room, “Then we look toward the outer walls for downlighting that can gently wash the walls, curtains and art with warm, functional brightness,” he said. This can be achieved with soffit or valance lighting, or even plug-in torchier floor lamps that bounce light off the ceiling.
Room’s layout matters, accent lights could be used to highlight art, and table lamps could be placed beside seating to add another layer of light. And for extra ambience, “a candle never hurt.”
This way you can create a contrast between the light at the center of the room and around the perimeter, and the darker spaces in between: “Without the darker, quieter moments, everything is flat and boring. It’s the subtle interplay between light and dark that creates appeal.”
Ceiling lighting and table lighting to create an interplay between light and darkness in a bed room
Light Up Corners and Special Objects
To brighten up the space of empty shaded corners or special objects, Caitlin Murray, the founder and chief executive of Black Lacquer Design, in Los Angeles would recommend oversized floor lamp, “Look for a lamp that is complementary in finish and material to the surrounding space”.
For a dark bedroom, she used a similar strategy, combining a central chandelier with discrete up-lights in the corners of the room, bedside lamps for reading and a pair of sconces over the fireplace opposite the bed.
Exposure to Outside Light
Illumination of a room without much exposure to outside lighting requires some extra attention.
Donna Mondi, an interior designer in Chicago, uses recessed fixtures along the perimeter of a north-facing living room to complement a central pendant that spread light horizontally throughout the space. You may also use table lamps to illuminate darker sections of the room. If you have an art element, you may add a pair sconces to draw attention to it.
Your best choice for over the sink illumination would be wall mounted scones, casting bright light to the face and avoid the shadows that could be casted by recessed fixtures.
Some designers like Janey Butler, who runs Janey Butler Interiors, the interior design wing of the Llama Group in Cheshire, England recommend to create a sense of intimacy and spa like luxury, by installing a sculptural pendant lamp that could transform a windowless bathroom into a dramatic space by hanging a chandelier over the tub.
How About Overheads?
Robert Highsmith, a principal at Workstead, the Brooklyn design firm thinks that there is a problem because “Often it can be excessive, generating spots and unwanted shadows”.
As an alternative, Mr. Highsmith recommends hanging a large pendant fixture or a chandelier in common areas. In Mr. Highsmith view, living room lighting should be made up of subtle lighting sources like wall sconces and floor lamps.