The lighting plan of your home is not just necessary for functional purposes. It also has an aesthetic aspect and a powerful impact on your energy bill. However, many homeowners and even contractors tend to ignore this element of the renovation until it’s too late to do something meaningful about it. In all fairness, the lighting plan doesn’t get enough publicity to be considered important, which is why you should ask a specialist’s opinion.
Someone who understands how lighting works and the impact it has on your general well-being and aspect of the house will know how to guide your steps. But, until then, we have several tips that will help along the way.
The market is filled with gorgeous light pendants and fixtures, but before you let them charm you into buying one, stop and think about functionality.
Understand the Types of Lights
In a home or office, there are three types of light:
- Task lights (the ones that have a specific purpose);
- Ambient lights (needed to light up the entire room);
- Accent lights (the ones that attract the eye).
Once you understand how each of these lights works, it’s easier to understand the type of fixtures that will go in each room. It’s also a way to make sure you won’t end up spreading downlights or can lights everywhere.
If you take the easy way out, you’ll have a lot of overlit spaces, without any creativity and design. Everything will look the same regardless of how hard you’ll try to enhance certain areas of a room.
Plan your Rooms
The first question to know the purpose of that light. Are you looking to install a light over your bed for reading purposes or you’re looking for a decorative light that will add dimension to a dark corner? Also, do you need a light that is fit for applying makeup or do you want something more romantic, to set the mood in the evening?
Purpose matters because some of the most gorgeous pendants out there are not powerful enough to provide the best light in certain situations.
The solution: Try to plan out the function of each room. This way, you’ll know where to place different task lights depending on the purpose each spot will have. For instance, you’ll need more light, at a direct angle, over a desk while for reading in bed, you’ll need a light that can be easily adjusted. That’s why, for the first situation it’s best to work with spotlights while for the second case, a lamp with an adjustable arm is the best choice.
The secret here is to create a detailed plan, with windows and doors, and even to-scale furniture placement. If you work with a specialist, you’ll notice that this is their first step.
Mood & Ambience
The mood in a room is influenced by a variety of elements, but the lighting is one of the most important ones.
That’s why specialists put a lot of focus on ambient lights – the ones that light everything up and set the atmosphere in the entire room. These are not necessarily fancy in design. In fact, it’s quite best if you don’t see them first hand.
This type of light should make you feel comfortable and allow the eye to move unhindered through the room. That’s why a specialist will recommend lighting the ceilings and walls – the light spreads out evenly and creates a beautiful effect (unlike the commercial center effect created by downlights).
Furthermore, you should have control over ambient light, to create specific moods. For instance, if you have a party or guests for dinner, you may want to create a romantic setting. In this case, it helps if you have a dimmer or if the lights are installed in layers. On the other hands, if you need to work or stay alert, ambient light can be at full capacity. So, you should also think about controlling the lights, not just how and where to install them.
The third type of lights is the icing on an already delicious cake! The first purpose of accent lights is to direct the eye towards a certain area, by enhancing its depth. But it’s also about the way the fixture was designed.
For instance, the lights under a stairwell are used to add to the general space, while the pendants hanging over a bar are there to enhance the area through their gorgeous design. Also, accent light can be used to put artwork into focus or to subtly highlight a specific area or object in the room (such as the piano).
There’s a lot you can do with accent lights, but it’s important to be subtle when using them. Because they are so beautiful, it’s easy to over-use them, which is when they lose their charm!
Combine & Conquer
A well-lit room will present a clever combination of task, ambient, and accent lights. The cool thing is that each room is different, so you can’t implement the same pattern.
Specialists recommend starting with task lights, where you highlight the areas you’ll actually use. For instance, the task lights in a bathroom will be focused on the mirror area while in a bedroom, these will be around the bed.
Next, you should add the ambient lights, that will create a uniform view of the room. These can be anything from can lights to downlights, but their main purpose is to create visual comfort by lighting up the entire space.
Finally, accent lights are the most fun because you can use them to create decorations. For instance, if you want to highlight the mood in your bedroom, you can use backlit panels for the headboard. This way, when the ambient light goes off, the accent one creates a nice and cozy atmosphere. You can also use accent light in tight spaces or corners that don’t allow ambient light to reach inside. Basically, if used right, accent lights can improve the way your home looks.
While artificial light is of tremendous importance for a home, you shouldn’t base your entire lighting plan on it. During the day, natural light should have the scene, so don’t forget to plan the space and fixtures in order to take full advantage of the sunlight.
Reflective (shiny countertops or mirrors) or white surfaces are amazing at dispersing both the natural and artificial light through the room, which is why interior design specialists like to use them. Furthermore, by enhancing the capacity of natural light and allowing artificial light to reach every nook and cranny, you also take care of your energy bill.
At the end of the day, your lighting plan should consider all the aspects that matter for a homeowner, which is why it needs to be included in the initial phase of a renovation or new construction.
Author Bio: Lisa Wetherell runs the blog Lighting House - where she writes about her knowledge gained from 10 years of industry experience in the lighting and interior design field. To learn more about how lighting can improve your space, you can follow her blog.