Friday, June 24, 2011

Layering your lights

Yes, I have spent the past seven years becoming BFF with all things lighting.  Although I am perfectly comfortable designing the interior and exterior lighting of residential spaces, there is so much more out there to learn.  I didn't spend much time in college studying terminology such as lumens, foot candles, wattage, or sizing chandeliers.  Who knew there is an entire field out there dedicated solely to these details?!?!  (I see an entire post dedicated to this at a later date).

My favorite thing to discuss with and definitely ENCOURAGE homeowners to do is LAYER YOUR LIGHTS!  To me, this means bring it on!  

The easiest example to use is a kitchen.  Light fixtures all bring something unique to each "layer," whether it be task, ambient, directional, or general use.  Here is a simplified breakdown:

  • Task:  light used to perform a certain task, lights called "undercabinet" installed in a kitchen typically provide lighting to the countertops directly underneath of the upper cabinets, this is also commonly used to provide ambient lighting while entertaining, use as a night light,  highlight and show off a kitchen backsplash, and provide light to areas out of reach by the general lighting

  • Ambient:  the best way to describe is decorative or mood lighting, glass pendants that typically have a low wattage halogen bulb in them are a good example, this type of lighting is not the main source of light in a kitchen and is usually more decorative than function
  • Directional:  lighting aimed in a specific direction for a specific task, for example, kitchen pendants over an island or a directional recessed can angled towards a piece of art on the wall

  • General lighting:  the main source of light in the room such as recessed cans in a kitchen or even a flush mounted light in a small area, if it is the fixture providing the most light in a space, it is the general light of the room

Let's not forget other ways to layer your lights with fixtures such as table lamps, wall lamps, sconces, and ceiling fans with lights!

Does your kitchen lighting satisfy you while cooking, entertaining, and grabbing a midnight snack?  If not, consider adding more dimensions to your lighting lay out.  You may be surprised at how inexpensive it is to have an electrician add wiring for additional fixtures if you already have fixtures in your space.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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