Design Basics: Complete the Look with Lighting

So, you've spent most of your time off work re-decorating your home.  You've laid new carpets, painted every ceiling, painstakingly re-tiled and re-wallpapered every room, and put together the perfect set of furniture that matches your shiny new solid oak doors.  You want to enjoy your hard work, but something's not quite right.  Things don't look quite as shiny or as glamorous as they did in the show room.  What's missing?  Most likely, the thing behind all your problems is lighting.

Adding Ambience

Lighting can make or break the design of a room.  Good lighting does more than just make things brighter - it brings out particular design elements, it creates a specific mood, and it directs the viewer's attention to the focal point of the room.

Bad lighting highlights flaws, creates glare, or leaves the room feeling dark and unwelcoming.

What's The Room For?

Before you can decide what lighting you want to use, you'll need to decide what the room is for.  You'll probably want the bathroom and the kitchen to have lots of bright, functional lighting, so people can see what they're doing when they are chopping vegetables or getting a shave.

For the bedroom, you may want a mixture of lighting options - reading lights near the bed, some dimmer switches for different levels of lighting at different times of day, and functional lighting around the dresser.

Larger rooms, such as the living room, can also benefit from several different kinds of light.  Spotlights can be used to highlight key features in the room, while recessed lamps or uplighting can be used to create a welcoming atmosphere.  A central light is useful, but each seat may want to have its own standing lamp, or table lamp, next to it to allow people to read or engage in crafts in comfort.

It's worth paying extra attention to stairs - especially if they're twisty.  One light isn't always enough to cover the entire stairwell, so you may want some directional lights to help prevent accidents.

Type and Colour

Incandescent bulbs may be on the way out, but there are lots of other lighting options available.  Halogen is very bright, but can be a little harsh.  It's good for functional lighting, but not the best choice for mood lighting.

Fluorescent tubes are commonly found in kitchens.   They're energy efficient, but the quality of the light they put out can deteriorate quite rapidly. Compact Fluorescent bulbs are also energy efficient, and have a long life expectancy.

LED energy efficient bulbs are becoming an increasingly popular choice because of their exceptionally long life, and the quality of the light that they put out.

Some migraine sufferers find that they are sensitive to certain kinds of light, but not others.  This is something that is difficult to predict.  If you suffer from migraines, you may want to experiment with a few different bulb types before you commit to using one type throughout your entire home.

Thanks to digitalart for the image.

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