Consider These Interior Lighting Tips for You and Your Family
Humans were created to live in daylight. This is the most comfortable environment to us. Even so, we perform almost all our work and much of our play indoors. No matter how openly we design our homes and buildings, the level of daylight is still minimal compared to the outdoors. So, we live a lot of our lives in artificial light and, as such, our requirements for the quality of lighting should be high. Comfort and ambiance are so important in your home or office, so a smart interior lighting plan should be felt and experienced.
That being said, let’s talk about creating your interior lighting plan. Light creates experiences and atmosphere, it affects moods and feelings. And most importantly, light is perceived subjectively and impacts differently on different people. So, it’s very important to consider the type of mood you’d like to create in any given space, the type of experience you want to have.
Get Your Room Layout Together
In a brand new plan – new home or complete remodel – you should start by asking yourself the amount of lighting you will need depending on the room. For example: In a kitchen, I figure the more light, the better – BUT…with options. This might mean a full grid of recessed cans, switched together or separately, and on a dimmer for level control. Then, supplement this with under-cabinet lighting for direct task light. This is usually full on or full off – not usually dimmed. A separate light (recessed) over the sink is often a good idea. Then, depending upon your kitchen layout, maybe you have an island or seating peninsula that you might want to feature with some decorative pendants. Pendants can add color, design and excitement with very little effort. I usually have these on a dimmer as well. Depending upon your taste and budget, I often install up-lighting above cabinetry (if there is space) for an ambient glow. The same is true of toe-kick lighting down low – very effective.
Different Rooms Require a Different Amount of Light
Full-coverage kitchen lighting doesn’t always translate to a living room or dining room. In the days of yore, you rarely even found overhead lighting in a living room. People relied on lamps for softer, indirect lighting. Some people today still prefer that approach. Let’s say you have a painting over the mantel or other piece on the wall you want to feature. In this case, you would want to consider recessed swivel fixtures to aim at a certain point. Knowing your specific furniture arrangement (and artwork/accessory locations) can help fine tune your lighting selections. If you know where you’re going to be sitting to read or do your crossword puzzle, you might plan for additional overhead lighting in that area. It’s not unheard of, particularly in more formal applications, to hang a chandelier or two or three in a living for additional ambient lighting. It’s up to you!
Think About Your Traffic Pattern and Install Switches Accordingly
Another consideration for these areas is where you want to switch your lights. 3-way switches allow a light fixture or set of fixtures to be switched on or off from two locations. Say you walk IN to your kitchen from the Family room, but walk OUT into the Dining room. A switch on either side works effectively to cut down steps.
There is an order to things – get your room layout together, then consider your lighting locations, intensities and choices to fit with this plan. A good electrician and/or a qualified architect or interior designer can help immeasurably with this process. But, above all, YOU know what you like and want – keep that at the front of your interior lighting plan. Good luck!