There have been numerous articles referencing lighting which you have
probably read. Many are complicated and tend to make your eyes glaze
over. Although this article is not intended to make you a lighting
expert, there are a few simple rules I apply to maximize the impact
on your space with a relatively minimum impact on your pocketbook.
There are three types of lighting techniques
general or area lighting
task or local lighting
accent or decorative lighting
The type of lighting you should be considering depends on the function
of the room. Rooms with utilitarian functions probably require only
general lighting. More important living areas might require all three
types of lighting.
Hands down, the best thing you can do to improve the current lighting
in you home has nothing to do with actual lighting fixtures, but with
control of your existing lighting. This can be accomplished by exchanging
all your existing wall toggle switches to dimmers. This allows you
to adjust the lighting output of your incandescent lamps (light bulbs)
which will dramatically improve the light quality in any space you
have. There are a number of different types of dimmers to choose from,
starting in price of less than $5.00. I might suggest going to your
local home improvement store and checking out what is available. For
more sophisticated lighting control, lighting systems can be purchased
which allow you to access a number of predetermined lighting schemes
to suit a specific mood or function you would like your lighting to
Now you have the maximum control over your existing lighting. The
next thing to think about is how to light a space and then choose
the light fixture and the appropriate lamp to do the job. The one
thing I often see in homes is a non-specific arrangement of recessed
down lights in the ceiling of a room. Sure it meets the general lighting
requirement of the room but doesnt do much for the quality of
the lighting in that room. When I consider lighting a space I dont
necessarily think in terms of creating a general lighting scheme.
I prefer to think first about what objects require highlight or accent
lighting in that room. I also think in terms of choosing an indirect
vs. a direct lighting source.
A good example in existing homes would be a hallway with a surface
mount ceiling fixture. In that situation I might consider turning
the hallway wall into an art/photo wall, using the existing electrical
connection, and change out the ceiling fixture to accommodate that
need. I would then choose a lighting track with the smallest possible
fixture (i.e. MR-16) because of a lower ceiling height in that space.
Next is a choice of lamp types for that fixture, (flood or spot).
The flood lamp spreads the light out, the spot lamps focuses the light.
The idea is to avoid hot spots. So if the track is closer
to the wall than is preferable, as in our hallway example, I would
choose a flood lamp to go with the fixture. The track lighting fixtures
would then be adjusted to point to each individual piece of art or
photograph. The number of fixtures would be determined by the number
of objects and to avoid hot spots. This results in specific
points of interest being highlighted. At the same time general lighting
is accomplished by the indirect light being reflected off the wall.
This approach addresses your lighting needs rationally to meet specific
lighting requirements with a dramatic result, minimal cost and immediate
The subject of lighting will be continued in next months article.
About the Author:
William Hoffman, The Tropical Architect, specializing
in new homes and home renovations for a Florida lifestyle welcomes
your comments or questions and can be reached at 954-561-1642 and
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit hoffmanarchitecture.com (high speed
internet connection suggested)
Beverly Lighting Fixture
Las Olas Isle
Fort Lauderdale FL