BRIGHT IDEAS: 10 ESSENTIAL RULES FOR GREAT LIGHTING
The most beautiful rooms can be made ugly with bad lighting, and the ugliest rooms can be made beautiful with good lighting. We are biologically plugged into light, like a lamp into a socket. Light affects our energy levels, our mood, or sense of well-being, and it can make or break all our decor colour choices; from walls to art to upholstery. Here are our 10 Essential Rules For Great Lighting:
1. Install lighting where you need it. It sounds so simple but it's done so seldom. Fact: architects and contractors often arrange lights in symmetrical grids that look great on a floor plan. Their "one-size-fits-all" approach tries to get even light everywhere just to be "safe". Position your recessed, pod lighting to illuminate what you want to light, and where. Reduce your costs and improve your results with a more tailored strategy.
2. Put all interior lighting, except your storage areas, on a dimmer! Being able to adjust the strength of lighting to suit your task or mood is important. People are quieter and calmer when lights are dimmed. (Eat by candlelight if you want the kids to go to bed early!).
3. Add light to "create" space: adding light to dim areas, upstairs hallways and living room corners will open them up, creating the illusion of more space. Pet peeve: low-ceilinged bedrooms with one centre ceiling light. If you don't have the height for a great ceiling fixture, install recessed lighting. Light reflecting off the walls will create more space!
4. Different switches. Separate recessed lighting onto switches by function: group lights that highlight art and objects on a separate switch from reading or general lighting so their brightness can be controlled separately. This is to ensure you have the ability to create different moods or "scenes".
5. Buy your decorative lights (especially wall sconces) at the beginning of the renovation process. All too often, electricians drill through the renovation zone, installing all the wiring and octagon boxes with efficient speed, not knowing what fixtures are planned. Consequently, electrical boxes for wall sconces are always too high. You end up either paying to lower them or buying new fixtures to compensate. If you can't buy your lights ahead, at least choose them and download the specs. Bathroom side light sconces should sit at eye level whereas heights for bedside wall-mounted lights will hugely depend on the height of your bed. Generally speaking, they should be approximately 52 inches from the floor; low enough so you don't have a bare bulb shining into your eyes when you're reading in bed.