Lighting is the most affordable element of home decoration and interior design. Getting it right can be very difficult. Lighting serves many purposes: replaces natural light at night, adds light to a room without natural light, and contributes decoratively and functionally to the design scheme. There are infinite amount of lighting options, in all price ranges, to get the exact effect you want. Before selecting lighting, the first place to begin is to determine its function by considering the results you need to achieve room by room. You can then address adding secondary lighting for mood and atmosphere, and then adding your own creative touch with specialty pieces. Lighting should be more than just adequate. It should add beauty as well as function.

General Illumination can be simple or sublime!
General Illumination is always addressed first. General illumination is the foundation from which the rest of your lighting plan is built. The most common example is the ceiling fixture located in the middle of a room. It can be a chandelier, fan light, flush mounted, or hanging fixture. Another type of general illumination is recessed lighting installed in the ceiling in a grid or specific pattern depending on the architecture, the room’s use, and planned furniture arrangement. Recessed lighting can be customized to provide diffused lighting with soft pools of light that flood the surrounding area with light, or it can direct light with a spotlight or pinpoint for focus on a specific object. Recessed lighting is usually planned prior to construction of a room. Indirect lighting is also considered general illumination. Fixtures, usually floor lamps or ceiling fixtures, diffuse light in an upward direction and can illuminate an entire room. Indirect lighting adds softness and interest. General illumination by itself is generally harsh or gloomy. It should always be used in conjunction with other types of lighting.

Task Lighting reinforces general illumination. Their purpose is to focus light in a specific direction to illuminate activities. They are used in kitchens for food preparation, in living rooms, bedrooms, and any room for reading, and bathrooms for shaving or putting on make-up. Although task lighting is deemed utilitarian, fixtures can be very decorative, and enhance a room’s overall decor. Decorative task lighting can be pendants in kitchens that illuminate islands, cooking areas, and dining tables. Desk lamps and floor lamps for reading come in a variety of styles, sizes, shapes, and colors to complement any d├ęcor. Bathrooms require task lighting over mirrors, and there is a fixture to match any style. Track lighting adds a contemporary look to task lighting, and is very versatile. You’d be amazed by the variety that is currently available. Accessory fixtures can be attached to the track to focus light in any direction.

Decorative Lighting creates the mood and atmosphere of a room as well as adding beauty and comfort. The character of a fixture’s design, shape and size can make or break an entire decorative scheme. Table lamps offer the greatest flexibility. They can be placed wherever they are needed, and the selection is limitless. Floor lamps work well in tight spaces where there is not enough room to comfortably fit a table. Swing arm lamps are wonderfully effective space savers. They can be used bedside, on the ends of couches, next to a corner chair for reading. Decorative lighting fixtures can provide direct downward light, indirect light that spreads light upward, or both to create different and interesting effects. Highly ornamental lighting including those with colored glass (Tiffany style) and glazes are not truly functional, and should be used as accents. They fit into the next category.
This wall mounted sconce
enhances the entire decorative scheme
A pair of sconces in an entry
adds a welcoming touch

Specialty Lighting consist of accent pieces that are used to highlight, provide drama and effect. Wall mounted sconces fall into this category. They can change the entire atmosphere of a room. By adding a pair to an entry hall, entering a home feels more inviting than just being greeted by harsh light from an overhead fixture. You see sconces most often flanking fireplaces to add interest to the focal point. Cove lighting is very effective in dining and living rooms. Lights are placed behind ceiling molding that runs around the perimeter of a room. Cove lighting is a good substitute for recessed lighting if you are unable to have recessed lighting installed. Decorative lights built into glass front cabinetry in kitchens add a feeling of spaciousness to the room. Illuminated library shelving highlights books and accessories. Lights that draw attention to alcoves and niches add dimension to a room. Picture lights, those mounted directly over a painting, spotlight the work of art, and adds sparkle. Uplights behind plants add drama. Ornamental lights are works of art by themselves can be placed strategically in a room for dramatic effect.

Since most rooms perform a variety of functions, rooms must have a variety of fixtures. The most effective way to use lighting is layering where several functional types are used in combination. Choices may be limited by the height of your ceiling, your design scheme, and the style of your home.

Living room lighting plans begin by selecting fixtures for general illumination, usually recessed lighting with appropriate spots to focus on art and sculpture, and floods for overall soft illumination. Table and floor lamps are added to define conversation areas, then task lighting is added to cozy reading corners or to desks. Specialty fixtures, used selectively, add a unique quality to the ambience of the room.

Kitchens need overhead light for general illumination, task lighting for food preparation like under counter lights, pendants, or close to the ceiling track lighting with directional fixtures.

Bathrooms with only overhead lighting are a decorating disaster. Even with task lighting above the mirror, the result is still unflattering. The addition of sconces on either side of the mirror provides more flattering and focused lighting. An adjustable wall mounted magnifying mirror with its own lighting is a great accessory for those of us needing glasses.
Cove lighting is a wonderful alternative
to recessed lighting, giving additinal
light conrol
Dining rooms incorporate general illumination beginning with a beautiful, sparkling chandelier that provides both general illumination and task light. If you can combine it with recessed lighting, you have ultimate light control to create the perfect ambience for a wonderful dining experience. Cove lighting is a great alternative to recessed lighting. Decorative lamps can be placed on both ends of a sideboard. Picture lights for art work add another dimension to the room.

A beautiful Specialty Light
still serves as my nightlight.
I’ve never used the overhead fixture in my bedroom. It casts a harsh light and gives a cold feeling. Instead, I have bedside lamps connected to the main room switch, so when I enter the room, these lights go on, and the room feels soft and inviting. I also have a floor lamp next to a comfy reading chair, and a specialty light sitting on a dresser that served as my nightlight as a child.

All lighting should be adjustable, whether you use 3-way bulbs or dimmers to control the amount of light. Exposed bulbs, like those in some chandeliers, should be frosted to cut glare. Tinted bulbs can achieve a variety of effects. Experiment with them. I use pink bulbs in some of my living room lamps when I entertain. Pink light is very flattering to me and my guests.

The entire decorative scheme of a room is influenced by lighting. Begin by assessing your needs and making a plan. Consider the amount of lighting each room needs, where it should be placed, and the type of illumination. Find the balance between gloom and glare. In most rooms you’ll find that a balance of general illumination, task, and decorative lighting accomplishes great results. Good lighting not only beautifies a room, it also considers the people in it.

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