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Around Our Town...If These Walls Could Talk

The Power of Light

08/01/2005 - When it comes to designing a room many of us overlook the key element to making that room look its best. The Light.

No matter how much time you spend getting just the right paint, floor and décor for a room, if you don't use the right lighting, the whole project can be flawed.

Light affects our moods and how we take on the day. Just imagine how you feel on those dark, gloomy days of rain. When it's sunny you tend to feel more cheerful, when overcast you're most likely less cheerful. Lighting in your home affects your moods in much the same way. Good lighting helps turn your home and the rooms within into private getaways that can suit any occasion.

The first step in lighting is to ask yourself some basic questions. What is the main purpose of this room? What kind of activities will take place in this room? What type of lighting is best for those activities? Do you want to highlight any objects in the room? Once you can answer these questions you will be able to choose the best lighting for each question.

Lighting in a room is not cut and dry. One type of lighting, say a chandelier in your dining room should not be your only source of light. Having only one lamp in a room with a high voltage bulb does nothing other than create an area with harsh bright light. You want to balance warm and cold light with a "layer" of lighting that will give you the ambience you desire.

The first type of light is general or ambient light. This is your main source of light. For example the chandelier in your dining room. This type of light allows you see what's in the room and maneuver through it.

Task lighting is used just for what it says. This type of lighting illuminates a space in the room that is specific to an activity. A table lamp for reading, under the counter lights for the kitchen, or vanity lights in a bathroom are all examples.

Accent lighting highlights those objects in the room you want seen more than others. This could be artwork on your wall, a sculpture on a table, items in a bookshelf, etc. Spot and track lighting are the best for this type of lighting because they can be turned in any direction needed.

Utility light is the most overlooked light source used. This type of light is used in hallways, stairways and those hidden corners in our home. Utility light is simply light for areas that need to lite for safety reasons.

Now that you know the types of lighting, the questions you have answered should aid you in deciding what type is needed and where in the room it is best used. Remember general light is the main light source for the room and therefore should be the brightest. Standard bulbs are best and can be purchased in a variety of colors and finishes to help you create the look you desire, however make sure that this light can be dimmed or shut off entirely. Your general light should not fight with the task lighting and accent lighting you use for the room.

Also place your lights at different heights. This will add interest and depth to the room and if you allow these pools of lights to overlap you can create shadows which will enhance the size of the room. Dimmer switches help as dim light is warmer thus making areas of the room richer.

Halogens and incandescent lights tend to be the best choice for your accent lighting. Incandescent lights work to bring out warm, neutral tones, while halogens work for cool tones.

When you are ready to work on lighting be sure to contact your local lighting distributor and electrician. Both are vital in helping you to create the exact feel you are looking for and once you have properly illuminated your room, those long winter days will seem so much brighter!

Written by:

Lara Taylor

Wood G's Gallery

Email questions to: woodyg@coffey.com

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