Of course, lighting matters in the home. It’s one of the fundamentals of interior design and decoration.
However, we haven’t yet addressed an issue that many homeowners have when tackling the tricky subject of lighting; Balance.
The truth is that there are plenty of mistakes to make when adding natural light, decorating with light, and choosing fixtures. Here, we’re going to address some of the most common lighting issues and the tips you can use to bring balance to your lighting plan.
Lighting Matters – general, task, ambient, and much more
Let the sun shine in
It’s one of the most common lighting matters and the most simple – Let natural sunlight in to yuor home and grab as much of it as you can. Get greedy with it if you have to. It’s better for the home and better for your health. That’s all true, to an extent.
The truth is that adding more windows and maximising natural light can have some negative consequences. For one, too many windows can mean that a home is harder to keep cool in the summer and harder to retain heat in the winter. It can also invite sunlight that will fade your furniture. If you’re adding more windows to let in a lot more natural light, offset the negatives with glass tinting.
This can be done to existing windows with the use of a window film that can increase insulation properties almost as much as double glazing.
Treat your light right
Unless you’re going for a contemporary, minimalist design, there’s a chance that increasing natural lighting with more windows introduces another problem. It can look a little bare.
The solution to that issue is in choosing the right window treatments. The appropriate solutions differ depending on the room and style you’re going for. Plush curtains can make a cosy bedroom feel even more relaxing while wooden slat blinds can keep a kitchen looking clean while ensuring the maximum amount of light gets in.
Adding a houseplant on a window sill of the living room or kitchen will give the window a bit more Japandi personality while livening up the room a little, too.
Colour me impressed
Another concern with adding more lighting to a room is how it’s going to change the entire dynamic of its aesthetic. That maroon colour you once loved is now garish and overly dark. A bamboo floor might look downright dull under more lighting.
If you’re changing the lighting, it’s best to be prepared to rethink both the floor materials and the colour scheme of the room. There are plenty of colours that work better with light, help distribute it around the room and keep their appeal. It depends on which side the room gets its light from, too.
East-facing rooms catch warm yellows in the morning then soft, un-abrasive blues in the afternoon, for instance, meaning that vibrant, warm colours like oranges and reds work best here. Consider the light the room catches and how your fixtures change that to find the right balance.
A light for every space
Moving on from natural lighting, let’s look at the main job that your interior lighting should be doing. The obvious answer is that it should be keeping the darkness at bay. But this isn’t just about how much light you use but where you put it.
When lighting a kitchen, for instance, recessed ceiling lights can be a great choice. Going overboard with them, however, can mean entirely missing the walls. Lighting matters so fixtures should be a fit to every space, not just a broader sense of more light.
In a kitchen, consider general lighting (in the ceiling), task lighting (with a focus on the bench top) and ambient or accent lighting (that which creates ambience, such as for dining).
Heat it up and cool it down
Just as sunlight changes how your room looks, so too will the different electronic lights you’re using. The benefit of electronic lighting is that you have some say in what kind of change it has.
In particular, by learning the different colour temperatures of the lights available, you can choose those which provide the best possible look to the room as you know it. LED lights have the greatest diversity of colour temperature options, so if you’re feeling like turning on the lights at night gives your room a strange, new, unpleasant tint, look at replacing your bulbs instead of repainting the walls.
Give your home an accent
Hitting every space that needs to be hit is only a part of the lighting plan for each room. You have to know the different kinds of lights that you should be using to maximum effect, too.
General lighting is the primary light source, usually from the ceiling. Accent lighting is used to add more moodiness and perhaps drama to a room. It can also be used when you feel like a cosier, darker night without the task lighting.
You don’t want the room steeped in darkness. Ambient lighting in the garden can also help you improve the usability and aesthetic of your outdoor spaces.
Set to task
After general and accent lighting matters, the third layer is task. As the name suggests, task lighting is primarily a choice of substance over style. But it’s one that many people will forget when they’re designing a room.
For instance, if you’re in the kitchen and you’re working at the sink, you want to see what you’re doing, but the central general light might be right behind you, so you’re working in shadow.
The same goes for being in the home office, opening a wardrobe to pick an outfit, and so on. Task lighting is about ensuring visibility throughout the home. It’s a lot easier to install a recessed light directly above the sink than it is to move the sink around.
Mood matters, too
Choosing light fixtures is about function first, but the mood of those fixtures matters too. For instance, adding a Klaylife chandelier to a room is going to instantly make a focal point of the ceiling and contribute to a rustic appeal in the room.
When you’re choosing light fixtures, consider how it affects the distribution. Yes, lighting matters so think about what theme or interior décor style they can help you achieve.For example, a metallic industrial light versus an extravagent chandelier.
On the other hand, be careful about buying for décor appeal alone. We’ve all spotted lamps that we thought would look perfect in this space or in that room. But if you’re not sure about how it plays a role in actually lighting the room, you’re just adding pointless clutter.
The other furniture and fixtures of the home will also have a role to play when it comes to determining the effectiveness of your lighting. In particular, every object is a barrier, and when the light hits them, they create shadows.
Too much shadow in the room can give the feeling that it’s claustrophobic, spooky, even a little dirty. Arrange your furniture around the lighting carefully.
There are furniture planning apps that can help you see exactly how they work in accordance with lighting matters. If it’s not flush to the wall, then think about placing it directly beneath the general lighting instead or use accent lighting to banish the shadows it might otherwise create.
Lighting and privacy
When it comes to lighting matters, there’s one room that has to work harder than all the others combined. That’s the bathroom. Privacy is going to be an issue with every room in the home. However, in the bathroom it’s the difference between a nice, relaxing shower and giving the whole neighbourhood a show.
You don’t want to cut off the light and make the bathroom feel darker and smaller, but you want the peace of mind to enjoy it without feeling like there are eyes on you.
Applying a frosted window film can let in as much light as possible while making sure they’re not entirely transparent. If you want a bit more privacy, light fabric, moisture resistant treatment, avoiding silk and linen. Similarly, think about switching shower curtains for sliding glass doors that don’t take up any more space, but keep the inside bright and comfortable.
Staying in control
For interior lights, we mentioned that you have a lot more control on how well they play with a room. Lighting colour temperature is another part of it, but installing wall dimmers can be even better.
For one, they give you control over exactly how much light you want in a room, which means you get to specify the aesthetic a few degrees further. But they have the added benefit of being a great energy saving device, as well.
If you have lots of general, ambient or accent, and task lighting, it’s easy to get the impression that you’re not being very environmentally or financially friendly. Dimmers can help you balance that out so you don’t have everything on at full power, all the time.
A wrong-headed or one-sided approach to lighting matters can end in disaster. You can find yourself dealing with glare, too much shadow, obscure, dark spaces, and rooms that look faded or pale under natural light. The tips above will help you stay in control and bring a little balance.