Lighting can make or break a space. It’s evident how we correlate feelings, moods, and even stereotypes with lighting. I feel gloomy because it is an overcast day, it’s dark, it’s rainy, and there’s no sun. Suddenly, a ray of light peeks through the clouds and everything around me is bathed in colour — and my mood shifts. Maybe today isn’t so bad after all.
We talk about ‘red light districts’ and ‘dark and dingy’ places with a fear of coming back from them with some kind of STD (if you don’t know what that means, it’s OK, you’ll find out when you’re older).
So yes, lighting is very important.
Since lighting is so important, keep it in mind from the very beginning of your decoration or renovation process. Paint colours show differently in different light, as do the colours of furniture. Some materials become too reflective if it is too bright, while others disappear when the light fades. Ask your interior designers about their thoughts and ideas. Hopefully, they will be able to provide clear (no pun intended) and adequate advice.
Technology has brought with it accessories of all sorts. To accessorise our lights, we now have dimmer switches. These little things are a great invention! You probably don’t want to feel you’re under interrogation or in a hospital ward. Bright fluorescent lights may be good for some occasions like surgery, but at home we can tone it down a little. Dimmer switches provide that flexibility. With just a tiny flick of a switch, you can change a space from “HELLO!” to “Why, hello” (said in a suave Sean Connery voice). Lights hidden in recesses in the ceilings have their own bling. Baffles are aluminium blades that can be attached to recessed lights which spread the light in different ways. You can also add colour to lighting with these.
The best lighting is always natural light. Consider window placement, curtain choices, and wall colours to enhance the effect of sunlight in your space. If this option is not available, and you have to install lighting, be sure to optimise the bulbs that you use. Low-voltage, energy-saving bulbs last longer and are highly cost-effective. Choose good quality light fixtures that will stand the test of time. Also, spread out your electrical wattage throughout the house. This will prevent overheating and electrical shortages of your lights and appliances.
Lights, camera, action! Lighting really does bring drama, adding character to a space. Layering your lighting can do wonders. Start off with ambient light like sunlight. This general lighting should cover all the rooms in the house, if possible. Then flake on a second layer of light with ‘task lighting’. This where you bring extra lighting to projects, the kitchen, a work desk, a study desk, or your favourite reading place. Lastly, supplement with ‘accent lighting’ such as spotlights to highlight paintings and showcases or under-counter lights to illuminate bar and dining areas.
Good lighting can turn even the smallest, humble space into a flashy chest of hidden treasures. All you need is a little planning and a lot of creativity.