Expert advice for using lamps and lighting to transform a room.

Think about rooms you've been in that felt calm and elegant, as well as those that felt jarring and unwelcoming. Chances are the lighting was largely responsible. When lighting is approached as an art as opposed to a simple utility, the difference is unmistakable. In fact, the right lighting can take a room from merely functional to fabulous by sculpting the space, directing the eye, and creating the desired mood and ambience. 

3 ILLUMINATING TIPS

So how can you create ideal lighting in your own interior? The most beautiful and memorable rooms typically benefit from three layers of light:

1. Ambient or general lighting provides overall illumination and should radiate a comfortable level of brightness without glare. This type of lighting is fundamental to a good lighting plan is best accomplished with ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures and recessed lights.

2. Task lighting is helpful for performing activities light reading and cooking and should be both bright and focused enough to prevent eyestrain. This layer or lighting can be provided by recessed and track lighting, pendant lighting and undercabinet lighting, as well as by portable floor and desk lamps. 

3. Accent lighting is the layer that adds drama and creates visual interest by highlighting important elements in a room. It can be accomplished with recessed lighting, as well as pendants, chandeliers, wall sconces, table lamps, and buffet lamps.

DECORATIVE LIGHTING

It's also important to consider the decorative aspects of the lighting pieces themselves. Chandeliers, ceiling pendants, wall sconces, and table lamps are the jewelry in a room.

The style of each lamp and fixture greatly impacts the tone and mood of an interior. Fortunately, decorative lighting is available in a wide range of materials and styles to meet your specific design requirements and objectives.

DESIGNER TIPS

  • Use chandeliers and pendants where you least expect them. Few things are more alluring than a small glittering chandelier in a powder room or the rhythm of several pendants hung in a row down a long hallway.
  • Consider the decorative possibilities afforded by using sconces in any and all rooms to hightlight paint colors, wallpaper, artwork, and wall decorations.
  • Put everything on dimmers-table lamps, sconces and chandeliers, as well as recessed lighting. Better yet, consider installing a control system that automatically turns on the lighting in a room at pre-set levels and times.
  • Pay close attention to the types of bulbs you're using. Now that incandescent bulbs have been phased out, make sure new halogen and LED bulbs provide the right light levels and color temperatures to achieve your desired ambience.

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