If your lighting choreography consists of a single flip of the switch, then perhaps it’s time to illuminate your mind.
“Every five to ten years, the lighting trends change,” says Melissa Kilgore, a lighting specialist at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery. “Changing out a few select pieces in the home to reflect what’s current will help update the look of your living space.”
Lighting placement, fixtures and functions are the three main ingredients to think about when giving your living space a light makeover. So if you’re wondering if it’s time for an update, ask yourself these questions.
As you evaluate the status of your lighting style, keep in mind that lighting also functions as art that helps define your style, set the mood and perform practical tasks. Think of adding light in unexpected places, such as a chandelier in the master bathroom. And consider using light in unconventional ways — such as using hanging pendant lights as reading lamps.
She suggests using tape lighting to achieve a subtle illuminated line of sight. “Xenon lighting is an affordable choice for indirect lighting and costs less than LED lighting,” she says.
A perfectly lit room has three basic layers: overhead lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. This bedroom pulls all those together — the chandelier for overhead, bedside reading lamps as task lighting, and accent lights above the headboard and artwork.
Good lighting should multitask and set the mood. A dimmer is an inexpensive ($20 to $25) and essential tool that puts you in control of the quality and quantity of light. You can install a dimming system either as a whole-house lighting control or by adding a wall box dimmer in each room and lamps with dimmer switches.
“Think of lighting like a radio. You don’t want to have just one volume. Lighting should have the opportunity to be task lighting and ambient lighting. Dimmers give the light multitasking capabilities,” says Kilgore.
The American Lighting Association (ALA) estimates that a dimmer switch saves $30 a year in utility costs. Before installing a dimmer, make sure you have dimmer bulbs.
“As another bonus, dimming your lights 50 percent can save approximately 40 percent in electricity and increase the life of your bulb,” says Kilgore.
One of the quickest ways to update the look of a living space is to swap decorative lighting fixtures for more up-to-date styles. The ceiling fan as a light fixture is now a bit passé.
Bright ideas for current lighting styles: Consider replacing your ceiling fans with eye-catching chandeliers. Keep the overhead light at 150 to 300 watts for optimum illumination.
Lighting design is all about the strategic placement of light and matching the perfect light source to its intended function. Indirect lighting pulls focus, adds texture and layers the sight line.
The Color Rendering Index (CRI) is the second important number. A higher CRI is optimum. For example, 100 CRI mimics natural light and is perfect for highlighting skin tones and clothing. CFLs and LEDs usually have ratings in the 80s and are usually less flattering light sources.
For flattering kitchen lighting, bulbs with a color output of 2,700 K for a sightly red cast are recommended.