Lighting is one of the most important elements in a home and can often be overlooked. It's one of the first things I notice in any space I enter, and if it's way off it can completely change the outcome of my experience. It really is an easy and dramatic thing to alter with minimal effort.
All lighting is not created equal in every situation and should be addressed on an individual basis. When your lighting is beautifully balanced it can completely transform your space and mood.
So let's talk lights: There are a few different kinds that you should keep in mind that are used for different situations.
- Direct or Task: this type of light is focused on the space you are working in.
- Ambient or Indirect: this is used for ambience and overall lighting of a space.
- Overhead, Recessed or Track Lighting: think of the feeling of a conference room where you can get 'lighting fatigue' because it is so bright and shadowless. There is nowhere to focus and no place for your eyes to rest.
I am really not a fan of this type of light in a home. It may create a bright and evenly lit space, but that isn't really the type of scenario you need to achieve in a home. It ends up washing everything out and creating a very bland diffused environment that can be very unflattering. It personally makes me edgy and gives me a headache.
- Mood Lighting: Changes with the room and events that take place in it. Having individual lamps that light up specific areas and create different moods for different occasions can create a number of rooms in one.
Color Temperature: Understanding the basics of color temperature is a really important step for balancing the right ambience in your home. Color temperature is measured in Kelvin Degree's. To make it simple just try to remember two numbers, and everything else falls in between.
- 5500K: This is bright white light. It is the measurement of sunny daylight at noon and also the flash in photography. This light falls on the cold side (bluish) and isn't really flattering in the home. Think of the light of a CFL when they first came out or even florescent office overheads.
- 3200K: This is a warmer (orange) more pleasing light. It is the color of sunrise and sunset. This is more of what you would see with older more traditional light bulbs.
- Use a range of lighting in varied heights and locations.
- Use different brightness levels in different parts of the room.
- Dimmers: If you have overhead lighting as your main lighting source, consider putting in dimmers. They will dramatically affect your ambience in a variety of ways.
Questions to ask yourself:
What is your goal for lighting this room? Is it for a specific task, for reading in a corner, to relax, to work? Your lighting should set the right mood as well as serve the correct function.