Short of knocking down walls or moving into a new home altogether, changing the lighting is one of the quickest, most efficient ways of altering a room’s atmosphere and ambience.
Installing recessed lighting is a great idea for work spaces when you need a source of light above your head, but want a sophisticated, easy feel instead of harsh and fluorescent. But instead of placing it immediately above your head, pick two lights that shine down directionally in front of you, and use a dimmer for ultimate control.
Floor lamps serve one of two purposes: either to illuminate a room, or to shine light in more of a fashionable way (and used for things like reading). If you’re looking for a floor lamp with serious candle power, buy one with a shade that tapers and tilts up to the ceiling. But if it’s just a little bit of light you need, and for activities that change, get a floor lamp with bendable lights coming off the main stem so you can adjust it in any direction.
The ideal table lamp measures between 2’ to 3’, which fits into most living rooms. For smaller rooms, like children’s bedrooms or bathrooms, you’ll want to scale down a bit so it doesn’t look out of place. Find a table lamp with a color scheme that matches the room it’s in (e.g. a gold-shaded lamp in a room with brown or red walls), and make sure the base is heavy so it can’t get knocked over easily.
For places like the foyer or dining room, a chandelier can transform the space into something truly elegant and magical. Two things to be careful of are scale and style. Chandeliers should look like they fit in the room and not like they’re wearing the room, while the style should be contemporary and match the settings. Choosing a stereotypical-looking or old-fashioned chandelier will just date everything else in the space.
Spaces that are dim or hard to illuminate will really benefit from track lighting, as the heads can be rotated, slid, and twisted in different directions. It’s also an easier option to consider than recessed lighting because it uses the same power source, as opposed to having to cut into the ceiling.
Adding in a light source in or under cabinets is an easy way to brighten up a wall or room without going overboard. It shouldn’t be used as a primary source of lighting, but as a complementizer. Cabinet lights also tend to not emit much heat because they’re so close to the woodwork, and are usually fitted with low voltage halogen or fluorescent bulbs.
The lights used on a vanity should be bright without being glaring so they can show your reflection clearly without hurting the eyes. The key is to outfit the vanity with lighting that surrounds the face—for best illumination—and this can be done with “Hollywood” lighting (round bulbs), a row of lights at the top, or a wall sconce on either side.
Finally, the last type of light available in your house is that which the sun provides, and it can often be the most soothing, pleasing kind of light because of the patterns it casts inside. Make sure you manipulate the natural light by strategically positioning mirrors and glass to reflect it, and brighten up dark spaces and hallways.
No matter what kind of lighting you choose, the only “rules” to follow are:
Make sure the light fits the roomMake sure you like it