According to interior designer Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, “Light is the magical ingredient that makes or breaks a space.” Unfortunately, many homeowners fail to understand the importance of lighting in creating welcoming and functional rooms. The good news? Choosing beautiful indoor lighting is not beyond your reach – with the right information, that is. Read on for a comprehensive guide to choosing lighting for your living space, including interior design tips, the best lighting options, and more.
How to Choose Lighting for a New Room
A well-planned and executed interior lighting scheme achieves many functions, including defining the space, promoting productivity, bringing people together, and even becoming a major focal point for the eye. However, choosing lighting isn’t as simple as seeing a lamp or chandelier you love and buying it. Knowing the basics of lighting design can help you put a plan in place that achieves the ideal blend of form and function.
Because lighting is a major determinant of a room’s vibe, this question is a great starting point: How do you want the space to feel? There are also functional elements to consider. For example, rooms like kitchens and offices may require varying degrees of brightness in different areas, such as over an island or on a desk.
Interior design wisdom holds that all rooms should include a combination of three basic types of lighting: general, which provides the overall ambient glow; task, which lights a particular area where tasks are performed; and accent, which is largely decorative in nature. When combined, these three lighting types have a harmonious effect that makes a room look and feel better. Additionally, don’t underestimate factors like natural light, which not only adds illumination but also saves energy.
Popular Lighting Ideas for Each Room of Your Home
All rooms aren’t created equal and neither are all interior lighting plans. Here’s a closer look at several key considerations when choosing lighting for a particular space.
Lighting Your Dining Room
Dining rooms are natural gathering spaces. In addition to providing ample light for people to eat by, they’re also an opportunity to showcase your personal style while simultaneously setting the tone for meals and other events. However, many of today’s dining rooms are also multipurpose, with homeowners using them for everything from doing homework to playing games. Therefore, providing enough lighting to support these tasks is also essential.
Popular lighting fixtures for dining rooms include ambient lighting like overhead chandeliers and pendant lights. When hung over a dining table, these fixtures become not only a light source but a visual point of interest, too. The size of the chandelier or pendant should be directly informed by the dimensions of the dining table.
Table and floor lamps are also essential and provide task lighting when placed on or near a buffet or credenza. Meanwhile, accent lighting like sconces can be used to showcase art or architectural features. Dimmers are also beloved by interior designers for dining rooms because they can be adjusted on the fly to meet the specific needs of an event or occasion.
Lighting Your Kitchen
Kitchens are the heart of our homes and where family members often end up spending the majority of their time together. As such, lighting your kitchen has special considerations. “Today’s kitchen serves as a family room, kitchen, dining room, and even office. Therefore, multiple layers of lighting are needed,” Eclectic Home’s Penny Francis told the Huffington Post.
In addition to ambient lighting over kitchen tables and islands, general lighting should also be located over prep areas, sinks, and cooktops. Many interior designers favor recessed lighting for these areas. As in dining areas, unique lighting can also become a focal point or be used to showcase another element, such as a display case.
Lighting Your Living Room
The best living rooms are inherently versatile. Comfort and convenience are paramount, but a beautiful environment ensures that people will want to use the space. Speaking of using the space, what are your plans for utilizing yours? A quiet area for reading and relaxing will have different requirements than one that will play host to many social gatherings and game nights. Evaluating your needs in advance can help you determine the best lighting plan.
As in other rooms, ambient lighting is the foundational layer of any space. In addition to overhead lighting in the form of pendants and chandeliers, other types of lighting – from sconces to floor lamps – can enhance the space. Task and ambient lighting, including table lamps and downlit sconces, all add up to an effective and attractive lighting plan.
How to Stay in Your Price Range for Lighting Choices
High-end lighting may be more expensive, but if the result is better light, then it’s worth the extra cost. Why? Because high-end lighting is ultimately an investment in the appearance of a room and how you feel while you’re in it. Many homeowners do themselves – and their homes – a major disservice by failing to designate enough of their budget to lighting. While staying within your price range is important, you shouldn’t overlook the value that beautiful lighting brings to your residence and its inhabitants.
Legendary interior designer and decorator Albert Hadley said, “Design is defined by light and shade, and appropriate lighting is enormously important.” In taking the time to create a beautiful and balanced interior lighting plan, you’re not just improving the look of your home, but also how you live in it.