Lighting is essential to our lives. We physically need light. We need light to work, be safe, enjoy our homes, and each other. When we are decorating our homes, lighting needs to have a significant portion of the budget. Allow for it and you won’t be disappointed. Done properly, it will provide security, create ambiance, and display to advantage all your other investments at the flip of a switch.
The old adage, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it does not apply to lighting. In the past few years, light bulb manufacturers have stepped onto a very green playing field and are batting 1000. If you haven’t replaced your incandescent bulb in the last two years, it is time. According to the government website1, replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR, you can save $75 each year on energy cost. New energy efficient bulbs use 25-80% less energy and last 3 to 25 times longer. The initial cost is significantly more but pays off many times over the life of the bulb. Power companies offer an in-house evaluation for businesses to help them update their lighting and the government offers tax breaks if you take advantage of some energy saving upgrades.
Effective lighting takes some thoughtful planning. Consider each room or area in your home or business separately. First, make sure you have appropriate task lighting. Secondly, mix light sources to create the atmosphere you want.
Illuminating the kitchen is a good example of providing task lighting. You are using the entire kitchen when you prepare meals so overhead lighting is a must. Add a dimmer switch to brighten the area when you are really cookin’ and tone down the “dinner switch” while you are dining. Pendant lights or under-counter lights can focus on work areas like the sink, stove, or countertops. A kitchen “night-light” is a great safety idea. There are countless sharp, pointy objects in a kitchen and a midnight visit with no lights is asking for trouble. Even a late trip to fetch a drink of water for a toddler can be dangerous. Not to mention, we prefer no bright lights to wake us up all the way. If your refrigerator doesn’t have a light in the door consider a small lamp or decorative nightlight nearby to keep you safe.
The dining room is the fun room to arrange lighting for the best focal interest. A fixture or chandelier over the table creates a beautiful and functional focal point. Limit the total wattage to 100. Buffets or other tables in the room can be lit with pendant lights, lamps or other indirect lighting. You have created a comfortable and relaxing environment to enjoy good food and conversation.
Your living room will take more planning. Is the room used for watching television, entertaining friends, displaying collections or as a reading room? Is there overhead lighting and are the ceilings low or high? Are there windows that provide light during the day and seem to invite the darkness in at night? Illuminating corners using up-lights can help chase away shadows. Provide lamps for reading and to create conversation areas. This is another room where dimmer switches and three way switches are effective. For grand picture windows that provide incredible views during the day, you may want to install recessed lighting that will shine down on the windows at night. Even more dramatic, add a curtain of lights. If you have a garden area or terrace outside the window, you can add accent or patio lights to the area and enjoy the view both day and night.
Let’s make the bedroom cozy. Lamps or sconces beside the bed are handy especially for those midnight trips to the kitchen or checking on kids. For reading, track lights above the bed would be great. They can also be angled to direct light toward dressing and storage areas. Nightlights below the eyelevel as you sleep can add safety if you have to get up during the night. A nightlight outside the bedroom door is another good location.
Make sure the bathroom has light from multiple sources to dispel any shadows. It is also helpful to see when you are cleaning. A low wattage lamp can be hung or placed in a secure location and used when you are enjoying a relaxing soak in the tub.
Lighting fixtures of all kinds are available. Battery-operated candles make wonderful accent lights and add to the ambiance of your home. A battery-candle on an entranceway table will welcome you home. If you find rooms still seem dark, add mirrors or reflective materials to enhance the lighting you already have.
The light bulb is changing at, well it seems, at almost the speed of light. The evolution of the light bulb would dazzle even Edison. We not only have assorted fixtures to choose from but there are bulbs of various distinction and capabilities on every shelf. There are cool white, warm white, grow lights and more. They come in every shape, size, and color. But even more fun are some of the new features. Sengled Optoelectronics Company2 is a supplier to Home Depot stores and others providing dimmable, efficient LED light bulbs with built-in Bluetooth speakers. These are easily screwed into your standard socket and can be controlled from their app on your smart phone. They also offer a bulb with Wi-Fi booster built in. What’s next? Well, they will soon be distributing a light bulb and camera with facial recognition so you know who is in your home or who just left. …Not sure even George Jetson had one of those.