Kiki Interiors - Decor and Staging

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

We Answer Wednesday - How to Improve the lighting look in your room (any room)

"I have overhead lighting in my living room but it still looks and feels dark most of the time.  How can I improve the lighting in my living room?"

This is a great question and actually a very common concern. More often than not, homes are not designed and built with a lighting plan in mind.  Some builders are now offering that opportunity to buyers who have purchased from plans, to meet with an in-house design/decor consultant and review the lighting plans and they can make adjustments and some additions (at an extra cost).  But what about someone who has purchased an existing home? What can you do?

You still have options.  You could meet an electrician and see where you could add some extra ambient lighting sources such as pot lights.  But that can be costly.

What you want to do and can do quite easily is layer your lighting. Think of your lighting plan a having 3 layers.  Each layer plays a role in the whole plan. Layering your lighting means to have different sources of lighting in one room.  Each source has a different function but they each contribute to the look and feel of the room. This way you can change up the lighting scheme throughout the day and to set the mood you like.  This is also a great idea for a room that serves multiple purposes (which is the case for most of us).

 Light blue & white home decor with different patterns and textures create a calm and serene mood in this stunning living room.:
Photo from tumblr.com
This space uses different types of lighting - the ambient light from the ceiling fixtures and task lighting from the kitchen island pendants and the table lamps.  Look closely there are some candles on the coffee table too.

So what are the 3 types of lighting that should be in a room?

LAYER 1- Ambient lighting: this is the room's overall light wash, this could be natural light streaming in from a window or it could be from overhead lighting.  This is your basic layer of lighting.  This type of light illuminates open areas, walls and main furniture pieces. For overhead ambient light, a dimmer switch is a great idea as it offers you options throughout the day to change it up with your mood. Examples of Ambient lighting include: overhead fixtures, pot lights, natural light beaming in from a window, and torchiere.

LAYER 2- Task lighting: this type of lighting is designed to help you perform activities at close range.  This type of lighting is more area specific.  For example, wall sconces or a swing arm floor lamp behind a chair is great for reading or a hanging pendant over a kitchen island are some examples of task lighting.  Task lighting is another layer in your lighting plan. Examples of task lighting include: table lamps, floor lamps, wall sconces, and swing arm lamps.

Swing arm sconces instead of bedside lamps - save room on the nightstand eclecticallyvintage.com:
Photo from eclecticallyvintage.com


LAYER 3- Accent lighting: this style of lighting adds a touch of drama to your space. This really allows you to change up the mood in your room quite easily.  Accent lights really let you direct the eye to objects you want to draw attention to, for instance picture lights or candles.  This type of lighting adds warmth (as well as drama) to a space. Examples of accent lighting include: picture lighting, library lights, spot lights, track lights, mini chandeliers and candle light.

Master bedroom: I like the large mirrrors on one wall. Great idea!:
Photo from Mattamy Homes
Another great example of layering your lighting.  We see here the overhead lighting from the ceiling fan (double duty piece) and the pot lights.  The table and floor lamps add some great task lighting, perfect for reading.  And the wall mounted candle sconces add some accent lighting when needed.

Playing with the 3 layers of lighting helps create the mood in the room.  So for a gathering of friends and family, to create a cozy mood use layers 1 (on a dimmer) and 2.  For a more romantic mood, try blending various types of layer 3 (only spotlights mixed in with some candle light is very seductive).

When you are making your lighting plan you can mix up the styles of lighting from one category.  So a room could have a large picture window letting in lots of natural light (depending on time of day) with a beautiful overhead fixture and a few pot lights in the bookcases with a matching pair of table lamps flanking the sofa and a floor lamp or wall sconce behind a reading chair.  Add in some candle light or even twinkle lights by the fireplace and you have a room with a layer lighting plan that allows you to set any mood you like.  Plus this way you have light throughout the entire room, so it will never feel dark.

Transitional Living Room with High ceiling, metal fireplace, Carpet, Pendant light, Exposed beam, Hardwood floors:
Photo from Zillow

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