Don't Forget the Lighting!

in-style decor sideboard.jpg

As I was driving down La Brea (a street that has a lot of design shops here in LA) and noticing all the lighting showrooms and stores it made me think about how often lighting is an after-thought in interior design.  I mean, what’s the point of a fabulously designed room if you can’t appreciate it properly because the lighting is wrong or insufficient?

The lighting of a room really transforms the mood and perceived size of a room. Placement and type of lighting are incredibly important components in interior design.  The elements of a room really come together with the right types and combinations of lighting so it is essential to keep lighting in mind as you design and not have it be an after-thought.

image via decoist

All rooms need a mix of different lighting :: ambient or background lighting, task lighting for close-up work, and accent lighting to highlight special features.  Bad lighting can make even a beautiful room feel uncomfortable and unwelcoming.

Some questions to keep in mind when coming up with the lighting plan for a room are :: Where is the furniture going to go {This will help you to plan for where you should install floor outlets under tables or free-standing furniture to avoid having ugly trailing cords in your room}?  How will you be using the room? Will you be using it primarily during the day or at night?  Is the room for studying or for entertaining?

I have a love-hate relationship with down-lighting.  Ill-placed overhead lighting can cast harsh shadows and too much down-lighting can wash out a room.  One of my biggest pet-peeves is the recessed can light mounted directly over a sink -- it casts horrible shadows and can be as unflattering as lighting in a dressing room {lighting a mirror on the sides is the best way to go, in my opinion.}  Done correctly, down-lighting can cast a warm overall glow in a space.

image via lady lux

Spotlights are great for highlighting art work or objets d’art or architectural elements.  However,  a blanket of spotlights on a ceiling isn’t glamorous and the excessive light they provide can be exhausting, but a dimmer switch can instantly change the lighting from dramatic to cozy {dimmer switches are key!!}  You can have multiple circuits in a room so you can dim some lights, while keeping others brighter.

Just as different heights of furniture is important to the design of a room, so is different levels of light.  This is where table and floor lamps come in, as well as picture or wall lights like sconces.  Indirect lighting is a great way to add atmosphere to a room.  Each zone of a room needs to have its own lighting -- in a living room, for example, you will likely have different seating areas and each chair/sofa will need its own lighting.  However, you don’t want to go overboard with table and floor lamps because you could go into lampshade overload!  And lampshades need to be beautiful and work with the rest of the room, they are like the icing on the cake, and the wrong lampshade will stick out like a sore thumb.

Here are some more images of beautiful lighting that I thought you might enjoy!

image via decoist

seen in traditional home

image via the homebunch

seen in coastal living, 2009

design :: nate berkus

design :: sherry homrich