Lighting is an important aspect of a well-designed room. It helps create the ambience of a room and impacts how we experience being in that room. When natural light is not easily available or convenient, artificial lighting added through ceiling lights, floor lamps, table lamps and task lamps play an important role in the overall design.
A glamorous chandelier, a bright floor lamp, or a dimmed, tinted table lamp all have a different effect on a room. Lighting is not just about aesthetics; it can help with the function of a room whether it is to drive up productivity and engagement or create a space for relaxation.
Before we start talking about lighting details, there are a few ground rules to keep in mind.
More doesn’t always mean better. You don’t want to oversaturate the room with light, so think of quality rather than quantity. Also, try to think of what you’ll be using that room for and add lights where you really need it.
Here are our four key steps to getting your interior lighting right!
1. Think in Layers
For most people, lighting starts with the builder-grade ceiling light that you get in almost every single house or condo. You know the one–it’s fondly known as the boob light. First figure out how you want to use the room and then think through the lighting you need for your activities, in layers.
What are these layers, you ask? These are the different types of lamps and fixtures you would include in a room design. Some fixtures will give you general low light that will illuminate the overall room. Others like a task or directional lighting will help with the function of the room and finally, accent lighting will call attention to specific design elements in the room.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into each type.
General lighting is the type of lighting that helps bring light to an entire room. Also known as ambient lighting or low lighting, this is usually the base in the layers of lighting you will add to a room. Ambient light can come from ceiling lights, recessed lights, floor lamps, table lamps and chandeliers. Your decor as well as the size and function of the room should help you assess the amount of lighting you need to fully illuminate your space.
Task or directional lighting is used for a specific area where a task is being performed. Desk lamps, table lamps, pendants, wall sconces, and under-cabinet lighting are great examples of task lighting. This type of lighting is used when ambient light just doesn’t cut it, and you need a bit more in a certain area of the room.
Accent lighting, however, adds drama and depth to space–it creates visual interest and can be used to accentuate paintings, plants, sculptures or other eye-catching details. Recessed lighting, wall sconces, cove lighting, picture lighting and track lights are a great way to bring attention to an interesting part of your room.
As a best practice, aim for at least 2 layers of lighting in each of your spaces and at least 2-3 sources of light in total to get the right amount and balance of illumination needed for the room.
2. Find Your Aesthetic
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the endless amount of options available in lighting. If you can identify what style and silhouettes of lighting you fancy the most, it will make the whole process of selecting lighting a lot easier for you!
Whether it’s mid-century modern, glam, or eclectic, every design style has hundreds of different lamps to choose from.
Start with Pinterest and look through spaces you have pinned already. Pay attention to the lighting choices in these spaces to see if this is the style of lighting you want for your home. Create a board with pins of lamps that you love and consult this board when you’re ready to shop.
3. Familiarize Yourself with Different Bulbs
Depending on your needs and the type of lighting fixtures you have, you may find certain bulbs are better suited for you than others because of their environmental impact, cost efficiency and the hue of light they provide.
Incandescent bulbs give off a warm light. They’re used indoors and are quite widely used by most homeowners. However, they’re the least energy-efficient of the bunch with 60 watts only lasting about 750 hours. They’re often used for floor lamps, desk lamps, table lamps, and chandeliers. Most people are starting to phase these lights out from their homes now.
CFL bulbs are also quite popular and give off a softer glow. These lights can take a bit of time to warm up and they contain mercury. So, do be careful when you handle and dispose of CFL bulbs. However, they are quite energy-efficient and are cheaper than LED light bulbs. They are often used in floor lamps and table lamps indoors and in post lights outdoors.
Halogens give off a warm light and last longer than incandescent bulbs. However, they get quite hot to touch and have a high energy consumption. This type of bulb is most often used in track lighting and recessed lighting. They are also a great option for indoor or outdoor floodlights.
Not the best quality in terms of colour rendering, but fluorescent bulbs are quite energy efficient and give off more of a cool, white hue. They’re better for areas that don’t need task or mood lighting like garages, laundry rooms and areas that don’t get a lot of traffic.
Although LED bulbs are pricey, they’re the best for saving on energy bills in the long run. They can be used with a variety of light fixtures and are environmentally friendly.
It would be amiss to not mention smart light bulbs that can be controlled from an app on a device, when discussing LEDs. You can turn them on and off, change the intensity of light as well as adjust the colour easily with an app.
In addition to the types of bulbs discussed above, in the last few years, we’ve noticed a lot of vintage and decorative bulbs have become popular in home installations. These bulbs like the Edison light bulb can add to your decor when you’re going for a more industrial or a rustic look.
4. Put it All Together
Now that you know what kind of lamps and light bulbs you need for your space, compare them side by side to get a better feel for how they will look in your space. Make sure they look cohesive and seamless. They should also complement your decor well and enable you to use the room in the way you want.
Hopefully, by now, you see how important to be deliberate and mindful when you’re choosing lighting. Choosing a light isn’t just an aesthetic decision. It involves understanding how you use your space and how all of the light sources work together to create the right atmosphere for your room. If you get it right, your lighting will let your room shine.
Written by Nabeeha Baig.
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