The right lighting can make all the difference in the way you experience a room. When choosing lighting for your home, you should consider both form and function. For example, are you trying to create an overall mood for a room, or illuminate a specific space or object? Is energy efficiency your prime goal? Do you want to be able to control the lights when you’re not home? Are you looking to enhance your décor?
For many people, the answer is “yes” to all of the questions above—and sometimes more. With seemingly endless choices, ever-changing technology and intriguing new design trends, it’s wise to start with the basics and consult with the experts. The team at Dickson Development can help guide you through the process and connect you with the lighting professionals they trust to meet your needs.
Layer Your Lighting for Maximum Impact and Efficiency
“When we meet with clients in our showroom, we suggest they bring photos of their homes. The colors in a room have a tremendous impact on the lighting,” says Heather Winn at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery in Lawrenceville, NJ. Ferguson is Dickson Development’s preferred lighting resource. “Right now, we are seeing a lot of crisp whites and cool grays, which can present quite a bit differently depending on your choice of lighting.”
The best time to think about lighting is when you start a home improvement project, not when it’s wrapping up. “Lighting is a key element of the design of a room; it should not be an afterthought,” explains Bonnie Foster, Project Manager at Dickson Development. “You need to look at the room as a whole, and then break it down into layers.”
A well-lit room will provide layers of three basic kinds of lighting—ambient, task and accent. When putting them together, consider the scale of the room, such as the height of the ceiling, the color on the walls, any natural lighting sources and, of course, the intended function of the room and its spaces. While some lighting can multitask, none can do it all.
Know Your Lighting Options
Ideally every light in your home will function as part of a team that creates the overall effect. Here are the key players:
Task lighting. As its name implies, task lighting helps you perform everyday tasks. Choose task lighting to illuminate a work space, such as a kitchen counter, or in areas where you will be reading or shaving or doing other tasks that require visual clarity. Examples include table lamps in a living room and under-counter lights in a kitchen.
Accent lighting. This kind of lighting is useful when you want to spotlight a specific area or object in a room. Examples include recessed or track lighting that can be focused on an object of any size.
Ambient lighting. This provides general, overall lighting. Examples include a wall sconce or a pendant, recessed fixtures that point downward and other gentle sources of light that create a uniform level of light. Dimmer switches create the same effect.
Decorative or aesthetic lighting. You will want to use this kind of lighting alongside other more practical choices to achieve balance and acuity. Think of the fixture itself as an extension of the décor—a lovely piece of art to beautify your home. It cannot stand alone as an optimal source of light.
All the Way with LED?
LED, or “light-emitting diode,” lighting technology has long been considered an extremely long-lasting and energy-efficient though expensive source of light. LED bulbs are better for the environment than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs because they use considerably less energy. They are also available in a growing variety of styles, colors and brightness.
Over time, the up-front cost of LED lighting is offset by its efficiency. You will save both money and power without sacrificing function. While it may not be practical to replace all your lighting at once, it is certainly a good idea to consider when and where to replace your older bulbs with newer technology.
Lighting Your Smart Home
Today’s smart lighting controls allow you to control your lights from smart switches and from your phone or from Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. You can program lighting scenes and timed lighting from these systems.“ It’s amazing the way technology is changing the way we live our lives—and light our homes,” says Heather.
As more people expand their homes outward, and create outdoor living spaces, lighting has gone beyond the basic and functional to the more aesthetic. “You can now use wet location rated chandeliers and pendants for your outdoor living spaces. They are designed in a way that the bulb is protected and enclosed by glass, allowing them to be installed outside,” notes Heather.
Personal Style Still Matters
The science and technology of lighting has opened the door to endless possibilities. Yet, at the end of the day, you want your home to reflect your personal taste and the way you live. Today’s design trends continue to focus on transitional, mid-century modern and industrial looks. These trends are then translated into fixtures throughout an entire home. “Many of the modern styles use an integrated LED light source, which allows the designs to become very creative,” adds Heather.
A well-lit home can improve your quality of life in many ways. Proper lighting not only enhances the overall look of any room, but it also reflects your personal style and taste.