We have the worst lighting in our home, I admit it. It is the last thing we’re addressing as we redecorate our home. We, of course, did it bass akwards, it should have been one of the first issues we addressed in our budget makeover project.
So what did we do wrong? There’s plenty of light in each room, if not, we can just add a lamp or use a brighter bulb, right? Wrong, there’s more to it than that, and it makes a difference in how your room looks. Haven’t you ever seen a light over a picture that made it seem like the most beautiful painting you’ve ever seen, like it belonged in an art gallery? That was accent lighting at work.
There are several types of lighting to consider as you plan a redecorating project:
General or Ambient Lighting
Ambient lighting is the overall lighting that illuminates the room. The light is diffused throughout the room and produces an overall glow. It should be inconspicuous and blend into the surroundings.
Accent lighting emphasizes a particular part of the room or an object. Accent lighting can create the most drama in a room and defines your focal point. This can be the most overlooked type of lighting when redecorating, just adding a touch of accent lighting can make a big difference in any room.
Task lighting provides lighting for a specific area and task, as the name would imply, and includes lighting for reading, hobbies, or writing. Usually task lighting consists of a table lamp, such as a light on your nightstand for reading in bed.
Another overlooked category when lighting a room is the decorative lighting. Treat this portion as a design element. It is not used so much as to give off lighting, but to add a decorative touch to the room. For example, a pair of candelabras on a dining room table.
So you only have so much room and money for lighting – what do you do? Well, even lighting can multi-task. That sweet porcelain lamp on the vanity in your powder room serves not only as task lighting for washing your hands, but decorative lighting as well. A chandelier in a dining room is ambient lighting for general light in the room, task lighting for eating your meal, decorative and accent lighting for the dining room table. With all those jobs it has to perform, your best bet is to put it on a dimmer switch to help it serve all those functions in one room.
Dimmer switches, by the way, can be a homeowner’s best friend when you need your overhead lighting to multi-task. They’re fairly inexpensive, usually under $20, and can be installed by anyone who’s fairly handy around the house. I personally consider myself handy, but don’t touch anything having to do with electricity (I try to stay away from sharp objects as well). there’s too much I don’t know in that area that could hurt me. Hire an electrician if you’re the same way, it shouldn’t take him more than a ½ hour to install a switch.
So, take a look around your room and identify which lighting you have serving which purpose. Don't do what we did, make sure you take proper lighting into account when starting any decorating project or room makeover.