Lighting Tips 101

Lighting Tips 101

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Published by TOP4 Team

A badly lit room can definitely dampen your mood. Poor lighting can affect work and relaxation, and can also give an unflattering cast to all your furnishings. Various rooms inside the home require different lightings, and getting it right can have a great impact on your day to day tasks.

Lighting is not a scary, specialist subject that only architects and designers can really understand. The basic guidelines are very simple, so armed with these and a practical approach, you will soon be able to improve both the look and overall atmosphere of your home dramatically.

There are two main categories of lighting and two secondary ones. The most important types are ambient (sometimes called background) lighting and task lighting, while the supporting players are accent lighting and decorative lighting.

Task lighting
As the name suggests, task lamps are used to concentrate light on a specific activity such as working on a computer. To be effective, they require a bulb of at least 60 watts, but some people need even more brightness. Try until you find the most comfortable level for you.

Ambient lighting

One of the most common culprits when it comes to creating bleak, shadowless spaces is the ubiquitous ceiling pendant. The problem is inherent not just in this fitting, but in the way it’s expected to fulfill so many functions when its scope is limited.
Ambient background or mood lighting should bathe a room with warm and subtle general illumination and eliminate any harsh contrasts between strongly lit working areas and the spaces around them.

During the day, natural light is often enough, but at night you’ll have to fall back on artificial illumination in the form of a table, wall or floor (often called ‘standard ’) lights, recessed ceiling fixtures, or adjustable track systems.

These can be switched on individually or wired into the same circuit so you can turn on all the lights in one room with a single switch. For maximum flexibility, fit dimmer switches to individual fittings or to whole circuits so you can instantly adjust the brightness of the room.

Accent lighting

This category covers any light fittings that are intended to highlight a particular object or feature in a room: picture lights, for instance, or spotlights that are focused on an exotic plant or an attractive collection of china or glass.

Decorative lighting

Under this heading comes any fitting that is valued more for looks than usefulness: twinkly fairylights, coloured fluorescent tubes resembling space-age weapons, huge, glowing spheres like radio – active balloons, and the ultimate kitsch classic: lava lamps.

Here are some tips:

• Light bulbs always die at the least convenient moment, so put aside a supply of spares, especially the ones not widely available in supermarkets or convenience stores.

• Low – energy light bulbs are more costly than ordinary ones, but they produce much stronger illumination in relation to their wattage and they last up to ten times longer. Best of all, they use 80 per cent less energy than standard light bulbs.

• If you’re trying to get by with ceiling pendant, explore the alternatives by taking two or three table lamps into each room. Turn them on and then switch off the central main light to experience the dramatic effect this has on the atmosphere in the room.

• Pale neutral lampshades (white, cream, parchment, etc.) are the best choice for all domestic fittings. Coloured shades have a tendency to distort light and dark ones (fabric or card) limit it significantly.

• Unless you’re trying for a specific theatrical or high – camp look, avoid coloured light bulbs and those shaped like frames. While you’re building up your decorating confidence, stick to simple and honest effects rather than poor imitations or something else.

For more home improvement tips, visit our Trades and Services section.


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