Wednesday Feb 17th, 2016
Updating your lighting fixtures can dramatically change the look of a space. You can make a room seem larger by washing its walls with even lighting. In a large room, you can light up a few areas which can draw attention to artwork or a sitting area and make the room feel cozier. Or, simply add drama to a space by choosing a lighting piece that is unique and makes a statement. You can certainly have fun and be creative, but following some basic guidelines and avoiding some common pitfalls can help to pull a room together.
Recess and Task Lighting: One of the most common lighting missteps may be installing a row of recessed lighting in a room and assuming that being well lit means the room is finished. However, you may have missed the opportunity to add a layer of warmth or character to a room. The purpose and intended use of each room must be considered. If you don’t include task lighting such as a floor lamp or table lamp, reading on your couch may not be very comfortable or inviting.
Dimmer Switches: Many designers call the simple dimmer switch the best kept secret of lighting design. Dimmer switches instantly change the mood from “brightly lit board games in the family room” to a “glass of wine on the couch with the fire on.” You can actually feel the mood change in the room when you alter the lighting! A dinner party under stadium lighting doesn’t have the same intimate feel as a dining room chandelier on a dim setting.
Size: Another common mistake is not paying attention to size. A chandelier that’s too small over a large dining table may feel off; an oversized table lamp perched on a small side table by a chair can make that space feel disproportionate and off balance.
Dining Rooms: When you entertain, your dining room is the star of the evening. A general rule of thumb is that your dining room chandelier should be no wider than 12 inches less than the width of the table. The bottom of the chandelier should be lower than 30 inches above the tabletop. These guidelines are for an 8 foot ceiling. Raise the fixture 3 inches higher for each additional foot of ceiling height. If your room is large and you need more light, wall sconces are an elegant way to add ambience and lighting. They should be mounted 60 inches from the floor.
Bathrooms: Bathrooms can be another tricky room to light as the wrong lighting can create shadows that are not very conducive to shaving or make up application. A bath-bar light above the mirror should be at least 24 inches wide. If you add wall sconces, 60 inches above the ground, on either side of the mirror, you can help avoid shadows. If you have a double sink vanity, use a bath-bar that is almost as wide as the mirror or do one fixture over each sink. The bath-bars should be mounted 78 inches from the floor and centred over the mirror. If your bathroom is very large, you’ll probably need more lighting; a small chandelier can add light and a luxe spa feel.
Lighting is a lot more than just keeping us out of the dark- it’s a key design feature that can add drama, warmth and personality to every room in your house. The next time you get the urge to redecorate or remodel perhaps pause and look around and ask yourself if some lighting changes or additions might achieve the look or feel you’re going for at a fraction of the cost. Wouldn’t that be enlightening?