First of all, lighting is very important, we cannot stress enough how a space could be impeccably designed, but if you cannot see it… what’s the point, right? Although it might not be the first thing that you think of, and when done correctly, it also won’t be the first thing that you see when you walk into a room, the thought given to lighting is a really important part of the process of designing your house.
So, first things first, there are different types of lighting, and they are not all created equal; there is ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting.
Ambient lighting is used to light up a room overall, the word ambience of course implies a mood as well, and this is achieved through the level of the light in the room – obviously brighter will provide a more lively and cheerful atmosphere, dimmer for relaxing evenings (or slow mornings) and a romantic vibe. This kind of lighting is usually sourced from ceiling fixtures, track lights, pendants, chandeliers, and table lamps… this is the lighting that should utilize dimmers to help achieve the desired feeling, and natural lighting also falls into this category.
Task lighting is as straightforward as its name implies… this is lighting to do tasks by; food prep, homework, reading, or applying makeup. They need to pack a punch, vibrantly lighting the area without shadows or reflections, so that you can focus on the task at hand, do a great job of it, and keep it safe (think eyes and fingers). Task light is achieved by under cabinet pucks, directional tracks, desk lamps, vanity fixtures/sconces and desk/floor lamps.
Feature or Accent lighting is for drawing attention to a certain area or object. This type of lighting is often directional, whether it intends to be or not, as by its definition it creates a focal point. The best example of this is lighting a piece of art, whether recessed within a cabinet or shelving fixture in a home, or above a pedestal in a gallery, this kind of lighting is made to work by giving it flexibility of motion and a dedicated job by its placement. Landscape lighting is also a great example of accent lighting. This type of lighting is not meant to illuminate an entire space, but to draw the eye to something specific, and includes directional pots or track lights, picture display lights, and wall sconces.
Determining which types of lighting are optimal for your space is something that a qualified designer can help you with. They know lots, not only about the lighting itself, but about how it will work with all the other aspects of your space such as the ways in which light plays off of the other materials and the colours used. The proper application of lighting can change a room, and for that reason it should be a consideration of your overall design, and not an afterthought. When lighting is properly designed into your home, it will examine the fixtures themselves, their style, shape, size, and finish, as well as their placement, the height at which they will be installed, and the brightness and colour of light they give off, the warm or cool tone delivered to make the space feel just right. For instance, in a child’s room a brighter and more playful vibe is desired, versus in a den where a warmer and toned-down light would inspire relaxation and invite meaningful conversation (a small table lamp can offer light to read by when desired, but the room itself remains dimmer by comparison).
There are as many styles of lighting as there are of any other design element – traditional, contemporary, industrial, etc. – so selecting a fixture that compliments the overall design will have it being both a feature and fitting in perfectly so that it never glares out at you. Although lighting fixtures are likely not as top-of-mind as other elements when you dig into interior design selections, you should choose your lighting with as much thought and consideration as you would any of the other materials that you are enthused about… because the right lighting can be the cherry on top of the beautiful room that you have been envisioning.
We must not forget about one other form of lighting… Natural light… glorious sun-soaked spaces that give you the good-spirits top-up that only sunshine can provide, out–of–doors or if you are lucky enough inside as well! Natural light is a blessing and something to strive for in a home, requiring even more planning than the lighting fixtures, this aspect of the lighting design falls more to architectural over interior design. If you are building a new home, exposure can be taken into consideration at first steps by siting the house on the lot to optimize the natural light that it receives. However, in many renovations we also get requests to ‘brighten it up’ with the addition of natural light. This can be because many older houses just have smaller windows… all industries evolve and develop better technologies over time, and there are more options for windows, glass doors, and skylights than ever before. When the design of your home is undertaken with a holistic approach, these anchored elements can be just as much a design statement, as a lighting fixture would be, elevating the overall design of the home and its interior spaces.
The use of natural light within a home also works to reduce your energy consumption, with more daylight getting in you reduce the hours in the day when artificial lighting is required. Lowering those energy bills feels great, but natural light is better for human health for many reasons. Increased sunlight exposure hours, gained by optimizing it indoors, can have a multitude of positive benefits to your family; natural light better for our eyes when working or studying than artificial light, waking with the sun gives you a happy and motivated start to the day, and just the act of taking in a beautiful or friendly view from your window can serve as a pick-me-up increasing energy and positive emotions.
There are a lot of considerations to lighting, more than you may have thought, and unless you live in a glass house, perfectly sited for all day sunshine, in a very sunny locale, with a lifestyle of rising and setting with the sun… you’re going to need lights in your home – and that’s mostly all of us! So, be sure that you give lighting the time that it deserves when you are planning your home, because time is one thing that the invention of light gives back to us!