One of the things I see in almost every home I go into is how poorly lit they are. This is especially true in new condos where often times there aren’t even electrical boxes in the ceilings or if there are any, they are in an area of the ceiling that makes them virtually useless.
Lighting is very often the one thing that is overlooked and yet it is one of the most important design elements. It can make or break the mood and look of a room.
A great lighting plan is absolutely critical.
So, where do you start? Let’s look at the different types of lighting that you need to consider and I’ll show you some examples of how and where I’ve used them.
There are four basic types of lighting:
1. Ambient Lighting
Ambient lighting is general overall illumination. It fills the room with light and can be a chandelier, a ceiling fixture or a floor or table lamp.
2. Task Lighting
Task lighting provides focused, directional lighting for a specific area and task. Lighting for reading or lighting focused on different areas in the kitchen (sink, counter or stove) are examples of task lighting.
3. Accent Lighting
Accent lighting lights a particular part of the room or an object in the room. For example, lighting focused on a painting or sculpture.
4. Decorative Lighting
Decorative lighting is simply a decorative element. An example would be a wrought iron candle stand or small decorative lamp. It is not there to provide much light, but simply to add a decorative touch.
Here’s a loft in the fashion district where I replaced the track lighting that was in the ceiling with a simple fixture that fills the room with light. The track lighting was so directional that it didn’t really light the room and everytime you looked up, you were momentarilly blinded.
In this North York townhome, there were no electrical boxes in the ceiling, so I chose a floor lamp that combined a torchiere for overall illumination and an adjustable reading lamp. It has the option of using one, the other or both.
Don’t overlook a chandelier as a great way to light a living room or bedroom. They are not just for dining rooms.
This downtown condo had an electrical box in a part of the ceiling that made it unuseable so I opted to use a floor lamp to light the dining room table. In fact, in this photo you can also see the track lighting (task) in the kitchen area and the table lamp (ambient) in the living area.
Here’s a couple of decorative lamps that don’t do much of anything except look nice.
There was no room for side tables in this Bloor West Village condo so I opted for wall lamps flanking the sofa.
Pendants over an island provide great task lighting.
Here’s the perfect use for track lighting…to highlight a wall of photos or art.
When my clients purchased this lakefront property, the home had a mix of every style of light you can imagine; brass, wrought iron, brushed nickel. There was no flow and the home felt very chopped up.
We replaced all the lights in the home with light fixtures from one “family” of lights. In these photos, you can see the chandelier, semi flush flixture and wall sconces.
Very often, you can find a family of lights that includes chandeliers, flush, semi-flush and wall sconces. I highly recommend that when you have a lot of ceiling fixtures, especially in an open conept home, that you choose light fixtures from one family. It will bring unity and flow to your home.
Keep in mind as well that the bottom of your chandelier should hang 30″ above the table top or 36″ if your ceilings are 9′ or higher.
Hopefully I have given you some food for thought and some inspiration when planning lighting for your home. Remember to include all four types (ambient, accent, task and decorative) and don’t be afraid to get creative.
Great lighting provides not only light, but visual interest as well.