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.