Lighting is essential in every home, it can impact everything from your sleep schedule to your brain power. Certain types of lighting serve a specific purpose, and when it comes to your home, you want the right type, the right lighting can make you feel relaxed or productive, so it’s understandable that you want your home, the place you presumably spend a big chunk of your life, to be lit nicely. But there are so many different options to choose from. Here’s a basic guide to get you started. To optimize your home’s lighting, consider these factors;
First Factor: Put into consideration the function of each room
Generally, lighting function falls into one of three categories: ambient, task, and accent.
Ambient Lighting acts as the overall lighting of a room. It illuminates all of the room and is considered the room’s “natural light”. You might use a chandelier to create ambient light that fills the room.
Task Lighting lights up a work or reading area. You want this lighting to be brighter than your ambient lighting, so the contrast focuses the light in the specified area. Desk lamps and under-cabinet kitchen lights are common task lighting options.
Accent Lighting highlights a particular area, like a work of art or a bookcase. It usually creates shadow around the object for a dramatic effect. Wall lights and landscape lights are common accent lights.
To properly light your rooms using these techniques, consider how you’re going to use each room and whether there’s anything you want to accent in the room. Then, start layering. It is recommended to start with ambient lighting, then consider task and accent lighting. Think about where that lighting will go in the room. Don’t worry about the fixtures
yet, just think about where you want different lighting to fall in the room. If you’re not sure where to start, consider these general, room-by-room suggestions:
Living Room: In addition to ambient light, Real Simple suggests using an accent light in one corner of the room. Focus on an object, like a piece of art or a chair.
Kitchen: Add your ambient light overhead, then add lower task lighting to illuminate the counter space where you work. If possible, the sink is also a good spot to add task lighting.
Bedroom: It’s common to have task lighting in your bedroom on nightstands. Real Simple recommends pointing any light away from the bed. They suggest angling overhead ambient light away from the bed and toward the dressing area, specifically.
Bathroom: Bathroom lighting can be tricky. You want task lighting for the mirror, but an overhead task light can create shadows. Consider lighting the mirror on either side. Then, use an overhead ambient light to fully illuminate the room.
Of course, if you’re a renter, you may not be able to do much about some of the lighting position in your home or apartment. But these general guidelines can give you an idea of how to work with what you’ve got.
Second Factor: Select the Right Bulbs
Your bulb is your light source, so the type of bulb determines what the light will look like, how bright it would be and it’s temperature. Different bulbs perform differently, and there are four basic types:
Incandescent: These are the traditional bulbs most of us have used for decades, and they’re starting to phase out in favor of more energy-efficient options. They produce a warm, glowing light.
Compact Florescent Bulbs (CFLs): These use 75% less energy than an incandescent bulb. They also last longer. They usually emit a cooler tone, but you can find them in a range of brightness levels and temperatures. It’s worth noting that CFLs do contain mercury, and while the amounts are small, they still require more careful handling and disposal.
LEDs: These are just as efficient as CFLs, but they can last up to three times longer. They used to be mostly used for task lighting, because they only provided a harsh, direct light, but like CFLs, they’ve come a long way. They now offer the same look as incandescents, but they’re efficient, they’re less hot to the touch, and they last a long time. Cloud Energy offers two variants of their LED bulbs
warm white and cool white(… choose your feeling).
Halogen: This gives off a bright, white light, similar to natural daylight. Great for task lighting. They also use 10-20% less energy than an incandescent bulb.
Third Factor: Select the Fixture That Suites Your Bulbs
This is more of a design rule than a lighting rule, but when picking the right fixture, you also want to consider size, different fixtures call for different types of bulbs. So as you’re picking a fixture, consider what type of bulb it requires. A fixture that’s too small or too big can make your room’s proportions look odd.
Ceiling mount fixtures: Pretty standard for ambient lighting. They are ideal in hallways, bedrooms, task areas, stairways etc. In hallways, they recommend spacing out fixtures every 8 to 10 feet for adequate illumination.
Chandeliers: When used for general or ambient lighting, they’re best used in dining room or bedrooms.
Wall-mounted fixtures: These are usually sconces. They can be used in any room for ambient, task, or accent lighting, depending on where you put them and what kind of bulb you use.
Pendant lighting: Used for task or general lighting, they hang from the ceiling and are equipped with shades to avoid glare. They work best over dining room tables, countertops or other work areas.
Recessed lighting: Again, recessed lighting can be used anywhere for general, task or accent lighting. It all depends on how bright they are and where they’re located.
Track Lighting: You can use track lighting for pretty much anything, too. It’s especially versatile because you can often move the individual lamps around and point them in whatever direction you want. This might be as an accent to highlight some artwork, or you might just use them to illuminate the whole room.
For some, home design comes naturally, and it’s easy enough to eyeball your lighting when decorating. For the rest of us, it can take following a few rules and guidelines, and these should get you started in the right direction.