Use combination of heights, types of light source



jac jacobson/monarch/torstar file photo


A model home by Monarch, is seen showing a mix of heights and types of lighting. There are overhead accent lights to create highlights, task lighting in the kitchen, and both table and floor lamps to provide illumination at a variety of different heights.

monarch/torstar file photo

A condo model suite by Monarch, shows how to combine natural light with soft artificial light for a serene mood in the bedroom.

There’s an art to bringing light into a home. The design team knows that effective and appropriate lighting can make a home a pleasure to be in.

Good lighting means that you learn to layer different types and levels of lighting to achieve the mood you want as well as the functions you want. We’ve seen enough lighting design crimes to know that lighting is never as simple as it may seem.

First of all, there are different kinds of lighting intended for different purposes. General lighting is for large areas. Task lighting focuses on areas where strong lighting is needed, such as the place where reading, studying or sewing is done. Accent lighting creates shadows or contrast. This kind of lighting is used to highlight art, for example. Another type is decorative lighting, in which light is used in an entirely ornamental way.

And don’t forget to use different levels of lighting to create interest — a mix of table and floor lamps and ceiling fixtures, for example.

For every room, analyze your needs to produce effective task lighting. For example, in a kitchen, you need good strong lighting in areas where you are cutting or washing, for example. In a bedroom, a reading lamp that can be moved to cast light in a particular direction is a must.

General lighting is the main source of light in a room, often from a ceiling. It does a great job of lighting up large areas, but sometimes the quality of light is less than flattering. So do consider the hue of light cast by the bulb. Halogen has a white, crisp-looking light. And fluorescent lights have improved over the years — they no longer cast a ghastly shade of greenish-yellow. And the great part is that fluorescent lights use considerably less power than a traditional incandescent bulb and will save you money.

Accent lighting, such as that you might use to spotlight a beautiful tile backsplash in the kitchen or textured rock on a feature wall, can be done with track lighting or directional potlights. It is purely to highlight something beautiful, and should never be overdone. Highlighting too many things is just overkill.

Decorative lighting is used as art. It must fit with the architecture of the house, fit into a prominent location and make a design statement. A series of beautiful blown pendant lights could be used above a kitchen island, or in front of a window, for example.

In a bedroom, try to combine natural light with artificial light that is soft and subtle. After all, the mood should be relaxed and serene. Harsh or overly strong lighting is a no-no anywhere, but especially in the bedroom. Use soft general or background lighting, but do remember to add task lighting in the right spots, so you won’t leave the house with one blue and one black sock.

Traditional tungsten lights give a soft, golden glow, while halogen gives a white light that is perfect for task lighting — reading in bed, for example. Whatever you do, remember the bed switch, so you won’t have to jump out of bed to turn off the light.

A dressing room or walk-in closet with a mirror should have soft, even lighting, so you don’t get shadows while applying makeup. The lights are best above a mirror or on both sides. Use halogen or incandescent bulbs rather than fluorescent to get more natural lighting. And in the kitchen, don’t add to the heat:?Use fluorescent rather than halogen.

Tammy Schnurr and Jeffrey Fisher are hosts of Arresting Design on W Network. Tammy is an interior decorator. Jeffrey designs home furnishings and bedding through his company Jeffrey Fisher Home.