While longer fall nights are perfect for cuddling up on the sofa with a blanket and a good book, they also raise this question: do you have the right lighting in your home to ensure a cozy, well-lit environment for yourself and family?
How to pick the right lighting
When thinking about lighting, remember that its function falls into one of three categories:
- Ambient lighting. This is the overall lighting of a room and includes the “natural light” that comes into the room. Common examples include pendant lights, track lighting, chandeliers or wall sconces.
- Task lighting. This lighting is used for a work or reading area. It should be brighter than the ambient lighting. Common examples include desk lamps and under-cabinet kitchen lights.
- Accent lighting. This lighting is used to highlight particular areas, such as art or a bookcase. Wall lights and landscape lights are two common examples of this.
When starting on any new lighting project, it’s wise to begin with ambient lighting and then consider task and accent lighting.
Much ado about light bulbs
Once you’ve figured out the function of your lighting options, you’ll want to consider the controls and switches. Perhaps you have a dimmer switch that can help soften the lighting when needed. Most importantly, remember that you should be able to control each light layer separately.
It’s also smart to keep the bulb lighting colors the same. Not all light bulbs are created equally, and not all give off white light or are energy efficient.
- Incandescent bulbs are the most commonly used light bulb, which has a warm, inviting quality that can be complimentary to skin tones.
- Halogen bulbs will give you the closest version of white light, or natural daylight, and can be more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs. You’ll often find halogen bulbs using in under-cabinet lighting, pendant lights and recessed cans.
- Fluorescent bulbs provide a flat, cold light and are often bluish and harsh. These bulbs cannot be used on a dimmer and are commonly found in basements or attics.
- Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) use 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb and last longer. These can be found in a range of brightness levels and temperatures.
- LED bulbs are long-lasting and energy-efficient. They provide only directional light, which makes them an excellent choice for under-counter task lighting but not for illuminating a whole room.
Decorating with light fixtures
- Table lamps. Remember, a lamp should be no more than 1.5 times the height of whatever it is sitting on and the lampshade diameter needs to be no wider than the table top.
- Chandeliers and pendant lighting. To find the right size for your room, measure the width or diameter of the table, then subtract 12” from that number. That is the maximum limit for the width or diameter of any hanging light. If you have an 8-foot ceiling, the bottom of the fixture should hang between 30 and 36 inches above the tabletop. Have higher ceilings? Add three more inches above the table for each additional foot of ceiling.
- Sconces. The rule of thumb to remember is the closer you’ll be to the sconce lighting, the smaller the sconce should be.
Having the right lighting in your home is especially important, and not only for just the overall decor, but for the feeling it can establish. With the nights getting longer, it is the perfect time to reevaluate your lighting situation and possibly create a new set up that plays well with your home.