How to Light Your Home like a Designer
Let’s face it, we don’t all have the time or money to consult professional designers when we want to make aesthetic changes to our homes. But there’s no rule that say you can’t roll up your sleeves and do just as good a job. That being said, it’s always a smart idea to consult a professional electrician or designer when making complicated lighting adjustments that require a little bit of expert calculation and electrical re-configuring. However, you ultimately have the final say in what you want your lighting scheme to look like. Here are a few steps you yourself can take to turn your home into a well-lit sanctuary that you’ll be happy to come home to at the end of the day.
Devise a Plan
Every room is different, so devising a unique lighting plan for each one is essential. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a simple drawing of your room that illustrates where furniture is or will be and where there are existing sockets or light fixtures. Evaluate your space and think about what kind of activities are performed in specific areas of the room and how much light you will need for each one. Next, think about the architectural features of each room and if there are any particular elements you want to highlight. If you’re trying to keep efficiency in mind, remember to only place lights where you really need them.
While you’re laying out your lighting plan, make sure you’re also thinking about creating balance and smooth lighting transitions one room to another. We all know it’s unpleasant to go from the inside of a building with comfortable light levels to the outdoors where the sun is so bright that your immediate reaction is to squint. Our eyes need time to adjust to different intensities of light and harsh transitions will be uncomfortable for both you and your guests. Another way to create that balance is use layered lighting, a topic we’ve covered in a previous blog post.
Light Vertical Surfaces
Most lighting design tends to focus on lighting horizontal surfaces. However, paying attention to how you light vertical surfaces can be just as important. Whether you are lighting a piece of artwork or just the wall itself, washing vertical surfaces with light makes a room appear brighter and provides spatial definition. Track lighting, recessed lighting, and cove lighting (using LED tape light or rope light) are some of the best ways to achieve well-lit vertical surfaces in residential spaces.
Customize Light Levels with Dimmers
One of the quickest ways to get big impact for the least amount of money is to put all your fixtures on dimmers instead of regular on/off switches. Not only do dimmers keep rooms free of hot spots, but they also give you the freedom to adjust light levels to your liking and create a custom light scheme. Dimmers don’t have to be regulated to just overhead light fixtures – there are also plug-in dimmers that are suitable for use with table lamps. Before installing your dimmers, be absolutely sure that the light sources and dimmers are compatible with one another.