Last on the list?

Home lighting is often the last thing you think about when you decorate your home. You're usually so relieved to have finished (more or less!) that you rush out to a lighting store and buy the first ones you see.

But home lighting is a crucial part of your decorating.

The quality of the light determines how you see your room. Daylight may provide a completely different mood from artificial light. And because there are so many options for artificial light you can create many different moods and effects.

What to think about...

Establish where the light comes from, what sort of light it is, and you'll find it easier to decorate and think about your home lighting ideas.

Daylight is usually the most important source of light for a room. It changes with the time of day and the seasons; it changes in intensity and color, and therefore affects how your room will look from hour to hour.

In order to make the most of daylight, small windows should be free of clutter, and have curtains drawn back. Large windows may need to have shades, shutters or sheers to reduce intense daylight which may fade or damage furniture and furnishings.

But daylight can't penetrate your room evenly, and no more than ten per cent of daylight gets into the room. So even on a bright day you may need alternative sources of light for tasks such as reading and writing.

Very few homes are situated so they have good daylight provided in all areas, so artificial light is something to consider using not just at night. Darker areas such as halls and passages may benefit from having a lamp or uplighter to give warmth and provide an inviting interior.

Planning your home lighting fixtures

You may find it helpful to think of artificial light in three different ways.

Background or Ambient lighting

You should have enough light to make a room comfortable. The minimum background light needed allows you to see things in a room so you don't walk into them! It's the soft light you need when you sit chatting with friends after a good meal. Or enough light to comfortably watch the TV.

Dimmer switches are ideal for controlling background home lighting. You can then have as much or as little as required.

Task lighting

Wherever you need light in a specific place, it's known as task lighting. This could be for a desk, or to provide light for you to read as you sit in your favorite chair.

Task lights can sometimes serve a dual function of providing both background and task lighting. An example is a standard lamp behind a chair to give enough light for reading but also provides background light.

Decorative lighting

This type of lighting is used to illuminate pictures, ornaments or a specific object. It is often neglected - or possibly not even considered - but adds a touch of warmth and character to any room.

If you plan your lighting fixtures based on these requirements you'll end up with rooms which have balanced and practical lighting.

Options with light sources

Remember that you can now buy different kinds of light bulbs, including tungsten, halogen and fluorescent. Within these types you can also get variations such as daylight or soft light.

The rewards of planning ahead

When you completely decorate a room, think about installing new wiring. That way you can have all your table lamps controlled by a single switch, as well as picture or wall lights.

You'll find more ideas on lighting fixtures in the sections on specific rooms, such as Bedroom Lighting, Bathroom Lighting, Living room lighting and Kitchen lighting.



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