How to use lighting to create excitement in a room
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*This article first appeared in our Home Improver’s digital magazine
If you want a room to look warm and welcoming on a chilly winter’s night, you’re going to need more than one source of light. Experts say there are three types of light in a well-lit room.
Ambient light is the main light: It may come from a central overhead fitting or from recessed lights. It shouldn’t be too bright or the room might look cold.
Accent light adds warmth: It is provided by lamps, uplighters and wall sconces. Lighting experts warn against overdoing accent light as it can make a room look too busy.
The third kind is task lighting – light designed to help you do specific tasks such as reading, working or cooking.
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Lighting is the focal point this winter. Ceiling lighting has turned into the darling of lighting. No longer merely functional, ceiling lights are now unusual, extravagant, creative and have a story to tell.
Often they are the focal point of a room’s decor. Creative ceiling lights and well-placed table and floor lamps, providing different levels of lighting, can turn a room into a nurturing space to nest during winter.
Observe what shadows the lights cast and play with this to add atmosphere. Think of your lighting as art pieces. Search for lamps with bases that are sculptural so that even when the lights are off they add dimension to the room.
Use lighting to create excitement in a room. Juxtapose an art deco standing lamp, for instance, in a conventional room to add allure.
Lampshades can offer pops of colour and texture – make use of this to accessorise your room. Pull out your lava lamps from the 1970s and bring them back into the home. A surprising trend is the growing interest in lava lamps – and, well, anything 1970s, really.
Different lights for different purposes
A bedroom will need general lighting for when you are looking for clothes in the wardrobe and getting dressed. Dimmer switches will make it possible to have bright light when you need it and softer light for when you’re going to bed.
Other rooms have similar needs. In the kitchen, the cook will need general lighting as well as task lighting over a counter or island so chopping and preparing food can be done safely. Many older kitchens have fluorescent lights, which provide good lighting, but have zero atmosphere.
Avoid them, and if you have them, change them. A dining room might also need lights on dimmer switches to create atmosphere while people are eating, and a living room will need side lamps to create a warm tone. Wall sconces and uplighters provide warm light.
Sconces and uplighters should be above eye height so the bulbs are not visible. The quickest, cheapest way to create a warm glow in a room is to replace the “cool white” bulbs with ones marked “warm white”.