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How To Illuminate Your Home In Unconventional Ways
Plato himself said, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” Sure, this ancient philosopher may have said this centuries ago. Also, he was probably talking more about intellectual enlightenment than, you know, sconces. But these words are as applicable to modern home décor as they were to classic philosophy.
Light it right
Another important consideration, according to Zion, is the wattage and the level of light needed for a given room. “When you want to light a space, you need to think, ‘What kind of light do I need for this space?’ and ‘Why do I need light for this space?’” Your bedroom lamps, for example, would require a slightly lower wattage than the bulbs you might use to light your kitchen because you shouldn’t be straining to see what you’re doing when you’re wielding a meat cleaver any more than you should be squinting in the blinding reflection of the white page of your latest novel. Keep in mind as well that many eco-friendly bulbs last far longer and produce much safer light—and could be easier on your wallet, too.
While vanity lighting can be flattering, it isn’t always a practical option depending on the mirror’s placement in the bathroom, and sconces can cast unflattering shadows on the face due to the direction in which the light falls.
This means investing in more than just your typical middle-of-the-room ceiling light, which is not only outdated in appearance, but is also outmoded technology. Technology that has been far outstripped by newer fixtures that are capable of supporting new bulbs that provide better light for longer. “We used to go into a master bedroom and put a ceiling fan with a big light on it, but you can’t get high wattage out of it anymore, and it’s an old look,” says Phil Sherer, vice president of sales at Masterpiece Lighting.
Sherer suggests that instead of your typical bedside lamp, try a low-hanging light fixture, like a chandelier, on either side of the bed that will sit right where your bedside model would traditionally rest. You’ll achieve the same effect, but save yourself table space. Alternately, invest in spotlighted recessed lighting with a dimmer switch so that you can adjust your light level to suit your needs. (Just make sure that you’ve got a switch right by your bed so when you’re ready for lights out, you don’t have to leave the warmth of your comforter to get the lights!)
Instead of one big fluorescent fixture, you should have different types of lighting and under-the-cabinet lighting, according to Sherer. “You can’t just rely on that one, bright fixture anymore,” he says. The typical approach most people take when lighting a kitchen is to hang a long task light over the island or central food prep area, which can wash out the rest of the kitchen and limit the room to only one unwelcoming zone of light.
Better to use a few oversized hanging pendant lamps in warm tones over your island. Install spotlighted recessed lighting at key places in your kitchen to highlight areas of interest or frequent use, such as a tasteful piece of artwork or your stovetop or refrigerator. Zion is a big fan of “indirect lighting,” which highlights these areas subtly and reflects the light back into the main space instead of concentrating too much of it on one specific surface.
The Great Outdoors
It’s extremely important not to over-light your exterior, which will tip the scale in favor of your home appearing to be ostentatious instead of tasteful (not to mention the toll it would take on your power bill – yikes.)
Make sure that any windows or glass exterior doors come with “dimmer” settings – that is, purchase blinds, shades or curtains to adjust the amount of natural light you want in that room. For instance, many people enjoy a bright kitchen on a beautiful sunny day, and use light curtains for evening privacy. Many people would also prefer to shut out the sunlight in favor of a mid-afternoon snooze in the bedroom, and use thick curtains to create a night-like atmosphere. Whatever your preference, the sun will light and heat your home all day long. So throw those shades open and let it all in.
Evolve Your Lights