Lighting by Room
“If a room is lit the right way, everyone looks their best and feels relaxed and comfortable, but they don’t know why,” says Lindsey Adelman, a New York–based industrial designer who specializes in light fixtures. Each room in your home has very different lighting requirements and needs determined by the activities performed there. Learn how to achieve the perfect balance of lighting in your home with these helpful tips.
Whether you’re greeting guests or returning home after a long day, the foyer is a welcoming space that conveys the first statement of your lighting style – sometimes before you’ve even reached the front door. When an exterior window gives a view into a two-story foyer, be sure that the hanging fixture is centered and scaled to the frame of the window. Matching sconces or portable lamps can be used to flank mirrors or other areas of visual interest and provide an additional layer of ambient light for a pleasant arrival.
As the social and recreational center of the home, living and family rooms have substantial and varied lighting requirements. To meet these different needs, three to four layers of lighting should be used. Entertaining guests calls for a special lighting scheme that creates intimate ambiance. Consider different types of task lighting, both up and downlighting, throughout the space. A chandelier or other decorative fixture centered above the conversation area can supply the room with ambient light, while wall sconces placed around the room can introduce a layer of soft lighting to guests’ faces. When it’s time to sit back and relax, reading is facilitated by table and floor lamps. Accent lighting can shed light on a prized possession or area of visual interest, while specialty picture lights can brighten uppaintings and other wall art.
When lighting a bedroom, you should create an overall atmosphere of quiet relaxation. While a flush mount ceiling fixture and two bedside lamps still define standard bedroom lighting, thoughtful planning can recast the space in a different light. Consider scale. Chandeliers and larger-scale pendants can make high ceilings feel more intimate, while semi-flush mounts add a decorative element to vertically limited spaces. Decide on task areas and task lighting for activities such as bedside reading. Swing-arm wall sconces or a pair of small pendants can serve the same purpose as portables while freeing up nightstand space. You can also hang pendants next to the bed or install recessed downlights above – just be sure not to install them directly above the sleeping area.
As hubs of household activity, kitchens demand layered lighting from a variety of sources. Strong overhead lighting is necessary for general illumination and can be attractively accomplished with a larger-scale flush mount fixture. Traditional cooking and cleaning areas, such as island counters, require focused task lighting from pendants or island fixtures. Breakfast nooks can be lit with a single glass globe, a decorative pendant, or even a cluster of smaller pendants hung at varying heights for maximum visual impact. A wall sconce or two can provide additional ambient light, focused in the eating area. Accent lighting, including undercabinet lighting, is the least common layer but is becoming a bigger influence in creating the final look.
Whether you’re paying bills or writing your next novel, a well-lit workspace is essential for getting the job done. Pendants, flush mounts and recessed fixtures can provide excellent ambient lighting for working but should not be so bright as to create glare off your computer screen. Keeping overhead and recessed lights along the room’s perimeter can also help avoid working under direct glare. Close-in work demands specific task lighting from portable desk lamps, floor lamps or pendants installed over the work area.
While flush mounts are still considered standard for ambient bathroom lighting, pendants and small chandeliers can add touches of unexpected elegance and reinvent the utilitarian space. When it comes to the vanity, the best mirror lighting surrounds the face with even light to minimize shadows and avoid glare. Shower stalls require additional overhead lighting, which must be UL rated for wet locations, while standalone tubs and whirlpools can be surrounded by sconces to create effective ambiance.
Decorative lighting reaches its apex in the dining room. Serving as the room’s artistic focal point, a chandelier traditionally illuminates the dining table. However, to avoid glare, limit chandeliers to 100 watts with the right bulbs and use indirect lighting elsewhere. Longer tables may be illuminated by a pair of smaller chandeliers or formidable pendants for a grand effect. Sideboards and buffets can be flanked by sconces for accent lighting as well.
Make the table the brightest spot in the room to draw people in.
Content provided by the Littman Brands