Learning About Lighting
The harmony of light
Light is one of those essentials one tends to take for granted in the home environment and yet without it, life after sunset would literally come to a standstill. It is an integral part of one’s lifestyle and with modern technology and design, has come to mean so much more than a simple globe. With light one can create atmosphere and moods, extend space and change the shape of rooms. One can create colour and highlight areas of focus. If one designs light sources to interact, the possibilities are almost endless and an environment can be created which offers both the appeal of harmony and the practical benefits of light where it is most needed.
Choosing the right light sources for one’s home requires much forethought and analysis of one ’s real needs.
It also requires knowledge of lighting options available today. The House of Illumination outlines a practical run down on the basic techniques of lighting.
Downlighters and Wall-washers
Downlighters and ‘eyeballs’ can be surface mounted or recessed into the ceiling. They give a direct light, which is also totally adjustable.
Track Spot &Tube Lighting
The ceiling light track and tube-light are recognised as being flexible as a system with many different uses. A good suggestion is to mix 220-volt spotlights with fluorescent tubes and hologen lighting which can be angled in different directions. Such a alighting system would be particularly effective in a room which has one centre point housed in a existing concrete ceiling.
Two of the greatest advantages of uplighters is that one can use a wide variety of different reflectors along with a specific lamp to create pools of light exactly as required. Wall lights and pendants are still a popular choice in the home environment as they fit in perfectly with a myriad of interior designs.
Table & Standing Lamps
Both table and standing lamps are particularly great tools when it comes to creating soft ambient lighting in the home. They can be positioned anywhere a soft focussed light is needed, and are as much an aspect of interior design as they are practical sources of light.
Dimming is a popular device with many lighting systems but there are a few essential facts one should know: Dimming of incandescent lighting is possible by using a standard dimmer, for example, 600-watt or up to 1000 watt. If one wants to include dimming controls on a low voltage system, be aware that this is not an easy feature to install. It is essential that fully comprehensive dimming controls are used along with the correct transformer. When using a torodial fused transformer, one can apply a standard dimmer.
If one decides to install lighting into concrete, it is important to remember that the light will generate heat and enough space must be created to allow sufficient circulation of air around the light. Specially designed sleeves or boxes can be installed to keep the transformer 200mm away from the actual fitting. Before plastering, a plate can be installed which will accommodate the light at a later stage.
A few Pointers:
When lighting up a room, be careful to not create hard shadows, which will disturb the harmony and overall effect of a room. Play a little – for example, spotlights trained on a painting or even a vase of flowers produce an interesting three-dimensional effect. Decorative lights contribute towards creating a an overall harmonious look with the interior design. Be careful of glare – this is particularly important when planning the lighting for an indoor work area. Lighting designs should become lighting schemes rather than a row of individual lights. Create an interacting luminaire system for the best results.
As a rule, choose clear light for work, relaxing light for the home and direct beams for highlighting. A home shouldn ’t end t the patio door – extend living areas by introducing several light sources in the garden. Energy saving should always be a consideration when planning your lighting requirements.
Lighting in a home need not be stark and with new technology in lighting constantly being developed, lighting has become an art, and an integral part of interior design. One can create space with light in the way in which it is distributed. The first observation that can be made about light is that it comes from somewhere.
Visible light has a source - directional orientation. How can that direction be established? It is not always easy to do so, as all light angles are different. The simplest way is to look for the cast shadows, for example - if light is from the right, the cast shadow will be towards the left, if from the bottom, it will show shadows upward.
As light leaves its source and travels through space, it decreases in intensity and an illusion of space can be created with different intensities and angles. Colour and light should work hand in hand to create the right atmosphere. Colours can also be graded in shades of light and dark and therefore one has to know a room’s colour scheme before the lighting is designed. Lighting has become an artistic medium and one can learn to paint with illumination using various techniques to add depth, dimension and even drama. One’s home should be a haven, where one can feel safe, relaxed and at ease, keeping in mind that entertaining usually becomes an integral part of one’s home lifestyle. Table lamps, for instance, can perform a valuable function if they are selected and placed with care. A light fixture with a translucent shade works best as a decorative source of illumination. Low voltages create little islands of light, which draw people to seating areas and add a comforting human scale to a room. Up-lights are another source of illumination for rooms that need visual texture. An up-light placed behind a tall leafy plant will cast interesting shadows on the wall and ceiling for a romantic effect.
There are three elements that should be taken into account when lighting a room: art, architecture and people.
Accent-lighting, used to focus on a piece of art or an architectural element requires at least three times as much light on the focal point, as the general lighting.
Task-lighting illuminates a certain area, enabling one to perform specific tasks such as sewing or reading. Care should be taken in task lighting to not position the light source directly overhead, as this will cause a glare on the surface - this glare is known as ‘veiling reflection’.
Ambient-lighting provides areas with overall illumination, enabling one to see and work without eye-strain.
There is no single feature that can perform all the required lighting functions. Back-lighting a translucent screen is another way of creating ambient light in a room. Lighting in a skylight keeps the skylight from becoming a ‘black hole’ at night. Don’t let visually powerful lighting cause other aspects of the design to suffer loss of impact, unless the lighting is to be the central focus.
Kitchens have become the new centers for entertaining. The impact of lighting in the kitchen should be as inviting as the rest of the house, instead of stark and brightly lit. By fitting controllable lighting levels, one can change the mood of the kitchen for working in or to carry on a soft, relaxed theme in line with the rest of the house.
An entrance to a home is often restricted in space, but with lighting and related design techniques, the space can be subtly transformed into a warm, welcoming area. A home is often judged by what is seen and felt at the entry. This makes it doubly important to set just the right mood and tone, which suits both the character of the people living in the home and the design.
Lighting in a living room should be as flexible as the rest of the home’s components and needs to be controllable to satisfy a variety of needs. When lighting a living room, one should take into consideration what activities will mostly take place in the room, such as watching television, reading, entertaining, etc. The layout of the room and its uses will be a deciding factor in terms of the type of lighting design techniques used.
Dining rooms have been transformed in a lot of modern homes to multi-use spaces, used not only for dinner times, but school projects, family meetings, sewing, etc. This lends itself to adjustable lighting, enabling one to elegantly light the room for a dinner party, whilst effectively illuminating it for work.
A bedroom is one room where ambient lighting is of foremost importance. Often bedrooms end up with one light fixture in the middle of the ceiling, lighting only a part of the room and leaving the rest in shadow. Should bedside lamps be chosen, an optique light is best in a shared bedroom, as it will illuminate a certain space, instead of casting light throughout the room. Bedside swivel lamps should be mounted just above shoulder height.
Bathrooms require good illumination. Vanity lights are optimally mounted at eye-level, flanking the mirror so as to provide the necessary cross illumination. Recessed down-lights may help reduce glare but aren’t adequate sources of fill light.
Your home should be where you are the most comfortable. Well-planned lighting offers the flexibility to change each room’s appearance to complement your lifestyle.