DESIGN 101: LIGHTING A ROOM!

In September, we talked about how painting a room is one of the most inexpensive and successful ways to freshen up a room.  The same can be said for lighting! A thought out lighting plan can enhance the design of your room, add ambience, and help you utilize it effectively.  See below for some tips and tricks on layering types of lighting!

Pottery_Barn_Entry

Pottery_Barn_Entry

Entry, Stairs, and Hallways

Your entry lighting sets the tone to your house and can make your home feel welcoming.  In an entry, we like to center a chandelier or pendant to add ambient light.  Putting the fixture on a dimmer will help you control the mood.  An important factor to consider when choosing your entry fixture is size.  If you have a large space, you’ll need a larger fixture as the space might swallow up something small.

To safely light stairs and hallways, try adding multiple fixtures every 8 – 10 feet.  You can tie all of the fixtures onto the same switch so you light the entire space at once.  If you are concerned about over lighting hallways at night, the fixtures could all be put on a dimmer so that they can act like a night-light.

A great way to add another layer ambient lighting to entries, stairs, and hallways, is sconces.  Sconces should be centered at eye level, or approximately 66” from the floor.  You could also consider accent lights to highlight a piece of art or an architectural feature.  We also like to add a lamp or two on an entry table.  This is a great way to keep a small amount of light on throughout the night when you’ll want to switch your main lights off.

You may have noticed a lot of entries have mirrors on the walls.  Not only do mirrors give you the opportunity to check yourself out before you step out the front door, but they are a fantastic way to maximize lighting in an entry, as they bounce light into dark corners.

Pottery_Barn_Living_Room

Pottery_Barn_Living_Room

Living Room and Family Room

In your living room or family room, there are two key words to consider when lighting the space: balance and flexibility.  You’ll want to make sure your light fixtures work together and that you’re able to focus lighting on the areas where you’ll need it.

We typically start with a decorative overhead fixture on a dimmer, so that we can provide overall ambience to the room.  Next we consider sconce placement.  Perhaps you have a fireplace that will allow sconce placement to add another layer of ambient light to the perimeter of the room.   When considering sconces, you might also want to think about opportunities for accent light.  If you have a favorite piece of art, adding recessed lighting can highlight the piece without drawing attention to the light fixture itself.

Table lamps are an enhancing feature to add to end tables, and they provide a nice source of light at eye level.  When picking out lamps for your living room, think about how you could add a decorative detail by choosing a unique lampshade.

Pottery_Barn_Dining_Room

Pottery_Barn_Dining_Room

Dining Room

Last Friday, we posted tips for lighting the dining table.  In the dining room, almost all of the action happens around the table, so ceiling pendants or a chandelier will effectively light the space.  We typically connect center fixtures to dimmers so that we can control the mood of the room.  Ceiling fixtures should be installed so that they are 30-36” above the dining table.  If you’re going with a sprawling fixture, you’ll want to make sure the fixture sits within 12” of the perimeter of your table so you’re not lighting the tops of your guest’s heads.

If you have a sideboard, you have the opportunity to add a decorative lamp for another layer of ambient light.  This will also offer effective lighting if you intend to use the sideboard as a buffet.

Like in the living room, the dining room can also be a great space to highlight a favorite piece of art with recessed lighting.  Discreet lighting can add a cozy feeling to the room while also keeping the focus on the dining table.

For more information on how to set the table with candles, see our blog about lighting the dining table.

Pottery_Barn_Kitchen

Pottery_Barn_Kitchen

Kitchen

It’s likely your kitchen serves many different uses, which can make it a tricky room to light.  We like to start by focusing on task lighting, as the room’s first priority is meal prep.  Recessed lighting or mono-points are an effective way to light countertops, cabinets, and sinks.  They should align with the front edge of your countertop and can be spaced 6-8 feet apart to add overall even lighting.

If you have an island in your kitchen, you have a terrific opportunity to add pendant lights.  Pendant lights will provide the task lighting you’ll need for meal prep, but can also add ambient lighting for times when friends and family gather around to chat or eat.  Pendant lights can also add a nice decorative detail to give your kitchen a bit of personalization.  Pendants should be evenly spaced across your island, and are typically installed 30-40” above the countertop.

To add even more lighting to your countertop, try under-cabinet lighting.  Under-cabinet lighting is relatively inexpensive and can be fluorescent, offering an energy efficient light source.

If you have a dining table in your kitchen, the same rules apply as in the dining room.  A central chandelier or pendant can be a great way to highlight the table while also offering a cozy space to gather for meals.

Pottery_Barn_Bedroom

Pottery_Barn_Bedroom

Bedroom

After a long day, it’s nice to settle in to a warm and restful bedroom.  You can achieve a flattering and relaxing mood in your bedroom by adding ambient fixtures on dimmers.  Try starting with an overhead light for general ambience.  If you are opting for an overhead fan, try one with a built-in light fixture.  Next, consider if you have space for ambient wall sconces.  Sconces can add light to dark spots along the perimeter of the room.

If you like to read in bed, you’ll likely appreciate bedside task lighting.  You can use a reading light to direct light onto the page of your book, or find a bright table lamp to do the trick.  Bedside lights can be wall mounted, or sit on your bedside table, depending on how much table space you have.

Pottery_Barn_Bathroom

Pottery_Barn_Bathroom

Bathroom

When we discussed lighting the dining table, we mentioned that lighting face-on is the most flattering.  This rule also applies to vanity mirrors. For ideal vanity lighting, you’ll want to install fixtures above and beside the vanity to offer even illumination and avoid shadows.  Sconces should be installed at eye level, or approximately 66” from the floor.

If you have a small bathroom, often vanity lighting will be enough to light the entire space. However, a bathroom can feel more welcoming and relaxing if you add additional layers such as an overhead light on a dimmer.  A soft glow from an overhead light can also be a bit easier on the eyes first thing in the morning.

Task lighting in the bath or shower can be beneficial as well.  There are some good options available for recessed light fixtures.  It is important to ensure that shower and bath lighting is approved for wet locations to maintain safe lighting in your bathroom.

Pottery_Barn_Media_Room

Pottery_Barn_Media_Room

General Lighting Tips

  • If you have a TV in your room, consider placing light fixtures on dimmers to reduce reflection and create an ideal glow for viewing.  You don’t want any fixtures pointing directly at the TV screen or you will find yourself with an annoying glare.
  • When purchasing light fixtures, you’ll want to consider what kind of bulbs the fixture takes.   You can read our blog about how to pick a light bulb to learn more.
  • If developing a lighting plan for your entire home seems like a daunting task, try breaking the project down by room.  Think about how you need each room to function as a space for work, relaxation, and entertaining.
  • In nurseries and kid’s rooms, remember night lighting or other dim lighting.  Not only will night lighting help kid’s from being scared, but it will help all of you find your way through a dark room to say goodnight or change a diaper.
Bar

Bar

All Images and Fixtures from Pottery Barn.

Happy Lighting.

RB.

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DESIGN 101: LIGHTING - HOW TO BUY A LIGHT BULB!

Last week we kicked off a month all about interior lighting with an article about Lighting Types. This week's topic?  How to buy a light bulb!  Trust us, we were as confused as you were when we first realized all of the options available - LED, Compact Fluorescent, the sudden disappearance of 100W Incandescent bulbs.  Huh?!?  We put together a few tips to help you find your way at your local hardware store:

Incandescent

Incandescent

Incandescent Bulbs

You've most likely been using incandescent bulbs in your house for years.  It is the light bulb most used for residential design fixtures because it casts a warm, soft, even light that most resembles sunlight. Recently, you may have noticed some changes when you've gone out to buy an incandescent light bulb.  100 watt bulbs are being phased out in favor of bulbs that are more energy efficient.  You can still find them, but new federal law guidelines require that they use 30% less energy.  If you are interested in keeping a green home, incandescent bulbs are not for you.  We try to use them sparingly in areas where a warm, soft glow is really appreciated so that we can balance out our total energy consumption.  Table lamps in a living room, a dining room chandelier, or other lights that are not used on a regular basis, are typical examples of where we use incandescent bulbs.  Also, if you have a fixture where the bulbs are visible, such as an armed chandelier shown above, you may want to consider incandescent bulbs to maintain visual continuity.

CFL

CFL

Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFL's)

CFL's are all the rage now and with good reason.  They are better for the environment as they use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs.  And don't be fooled by the more expensive price tag because your wallet will thank you in the long run given they last  7-10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.  If the word fluorescent makes you think of  your office lights that are slow to turn on and are accompanied by a buzzing sound, be assured that residential CFL's do not have these issues.  All sounds great, right?  Well, not exactly.  There are a few downsides to CFL's.  A major one is that you can't put them on dimmers.  They also contain mercury, which is released if the glass of the light bulb is broken. CFL's are available in a variety of options that give off cool, neutral, or warm light.  For residential fixtures, we prefer the warmer options. Kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, and other areas of your home that get frequent use are typical examples of where we use compact fluorescent bulbs.

Halogen

Halogen

Halogen Bulbs

Halogen light bulbs are essentially incandescent bulbs, but they use less energy.  So they still give off a warm, natural light.  They are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, but use 20% less energy and will last longer (although not as long as CFL's).  Halogen bulbs are filled with a gas that isn't harmful if the bulb is broken.  However, be very careful when installing a halogen bulb because if you touch it the oils deposited from your hand will cause the bulb to immediately blow out.  We install ours using a thin, soft cloth.  Temperature -wise, halogen bulbs are significantly hotter than other light bulbs, so we don't recommend putting them in fixtures that are heavily used.  Otherwise,  you may find that your air conditioning bill has increased in order to keep your room cool.  Art lights, reading lights,  or any fixture where we want a direct bright light are typical examples of where we use halogen bulbs.

LED

LED

Light-Emitting Diode Bulbs (LED's)

You've probably heard a lot recently about LED's.  We'll be hearing about them for generations to come as well, given that LED's can last for well over 40 years (depending on use).  LED's come in a wide range of colors, which is why you see them in everything from outdoor lights to TV's.  They also work on dimmers, making them a good option for residential design.  The draw back of LED bulbs is that they cast light in one direction.  They can also be a bit colder than the other bulb options.  For these reasons, LED's have not yet become a mainstream option in the residential light fixture community.  But we predict that will change!  Outdoor sidewalk lighting, kitchen under-counter fixtures,  and other areas where you want focused light are typical examples of where we use LED bulbs.

Wattage

Wattage

Wattage

Here's where lighting can get confusing.  A common mistake is to think a bulb's wattage is an indication of how bright a light will be.  This is not the case.  Wattage actually tells you how much energy the bulb uses.  So, if you're considering replacing your 60 watt incandescent bulbs with CFL's, you'll want to look at a CFL that has is somewhere between 13-18 watts. That's because a low wattage CFL produces more light, with less energy, than an incandescent.

Lumens

Lumens

Lumens

Lumens are another tricky number when considering light bulbs.  Lumens are the total amount of visible light emitted by a source, meaning they are a the amount of light a bulb gives off.  A typical 100 watt incandescent bulb will produce 1690 lumens, which is a very bright light.  You can find nearly the same brightness with a 23 watt CFL bulb as it will  produce up to 1500 lumens.  The difference is that the CFL uses far less energy to produce nearly the same amount of light.

Kelvin

Kelvin

Kelvin

Now we're really getting into some deep lighting conversation!  Kelvin is the measurement used to rate the color temperature a light emits.  Essentially, the Kelvin measurement of a bulb indicates whether it is white (such as an LED), blue (such as some CFL's), or yellow (such as halogen or incandescent).  The lower the Kelvin rating (2700-3000), the more yellow the light.  The higher the Kelvin rating (5500-6500), the more blue the light.  White lights fall somewhere in the middle at around 3500-4100K.  Recently, light bulb manufacturers were required to include Kelvin on their packaging.  So now we can all understand whether we're buying a cold, blue light or a warm, yellow one!  Whether you are using incandescent, halogen, CFL, or halogen bulbs, we typically prefer warmer, yellow lights so that we can get as close as possible to natural sunlight.

Bulb Shapes

Bulb Shapes

Shapes

Light fixtures come in various shapes and sizes, each with their own sized base (or the part that screws into the fixture).  For example, many sconces and chandeliers use a light bulb with a candelabra base while a table lamp will often require a light bulb with an Edison base.  The first thing to consider is what bulb base your fixture requires.  Next, think about the shape and size of the light fixture shade.  How often have you seen glass bathroom sconces with light bulbs sticking out the top?  Bulbs.com offers a fantastic chart to help you find the perfect bulb to fit your fixture: Reference Chart.

Lanterns

Lanterns

General Tips

  • Light fixtures typically have stickers indicating the wattage they allow for as it's important that you don't try to use a light bulb with a higher wattage than your fixture allows.  This can get tricky when you're trying to decide between incandescent or CFL, so if you have any questions ask the vendor.
  • If you have purchased an outdoor light fixture, make sure your bulbs are also rated for outdoor use before it rains or snows!
  • Different states have rules and regulations on the type of lighting you are allowed to use in your home.  Before making your lighting choices, please research your local energy consumption guidelines!
  • We LOVE the "Shop by light bulb Technology" feature on Home Depot's website.  They will help you find the best fit for every fixture in your home!

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Up Next Week: Find the Right Lighting for every Room!

Make sure to sign up for our newsletter to be in the know!

We’re also looking for some reader feedback.  Send us your lighting dilemmas and we’ll randomly pick one lucky reader to receive free lighting design!  Email us at Regan@RBHomeDesign.com.  Friday, November 16th is the deadline.

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Happy lighting.

RB.

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DESIGNER WEEKENDS: DIY LIGHTING!

This month, Design 101 is all about lighting.  So we thought it would be a great idea to share some of our favorite DIY light fixtures! See below for some very clever ideas for creating your own ambient light fixtures (hint : if you're unsure what ambient means, learn more on our latest blog post here).

Paper Cup Garland

Paper Cup Garland

Totally It shows us how to make this darling garland using paper cups and sting lights. Imagine them in colors for every holiday!

Decoupage Light

Decoupage Light

Take a  plain glass fixture and add some visual interest with decoupage.  Learn how from Country Living.

Drum Shade

Drum Shade

Cover a boring light fixture with a custom drum shade.  Learn how to make your own from Apartment Therapy.

Paper Lantern

Paper Lantern

Martha Stewart shows us easy to follow instructions for making fun globe lights.  These spice up any dinner party!

Rustic Farmhouse Light

Rustic Farmhouse Light

We love the rustic chic look of these pendant lights.  Learn how to make your own using objects you probably already own from Imperfectly Polished.

Globe Light

Globe Light

Light fixtures can be fun and educational!  Learn how to make a globe pendant from Rosebud's Cottage.

Do you have any recent DIY lighting projects that you'd like to share?  Send them our way - we love hearing from you!

Happy Crafting.

RB.

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DESIGN 101: LIGHITNG - TYPES OF LIGHTING!

This month, Design 101 is all about Interior Lighting!  We'll discuss different types of lighting, how to choose a light bulb, how to come up with a lighting plan, and more.  Make sure to sign up for our newsletter to be in the know! We're also looking for some reader feedback.  Send us your lighting dilemmas and we'll randomly pick one lucky reader to receive free lighting design!  Email us at Regan@RBHomeDesign.com.

When approaching lighting in your home, it is important to first understand the types of lighting used in interior design.

Natural Light

Natural Light

Natural Lighting

The amount of sunlight a room gets is the first thing to consider when coming up with a lighting plan for your home.  The quality of natural light in a room can depend on several things such as the time of day, the weather, and the season.  You've probably noticed that certain rooms in your home are brighter, or even hotter, than others.  These are factors of natural light.  When you think about adding artificial lighting to a room, consider how much or how little natural light the room gets so that you can find the right balance of functionality and aesthetics.  Other examples of natural light are candlelight and firelight, both of which create a wonderfully cozy environment.

Ambient Light

Ambient Light

Ambient Lighting

Ambient Lighting is the most common type of artificial lighting in a home.  It provides a room with a general glow, without creating any shadows.  Typical examples of ambient light fixtures are chandeliers and wall sconces.  Ambient lighting can be placed in strategic areas of a room to create a warm and comfortable environment while also adding visual interest to a space - there are ambient light fixtures out there to fit all style preferences!  When considering ambient lighting, think about how you want the room to feel.  Should it be bright or cozy?  We also suggest installing dimmer switches with ambient lights so that you can control how much light each fixture gives off.

Task Light

Task Light

Task Lighting

Task Lighting is also very common in a home.  It is exactly what it says it is - lighting that's used to help you perform daily activities such as reading, cooking, putting on your makeup, etc.  Typical examples of task lighting are under counter slight strips, directional reading lamps, and vanity mirror lights.  Task lighting should enhance visual clarity so that it keeps your eyes from getting tired.  When you consider lighting for your home, think about certain areas that you use specifically for day-to-day tasks that could be enhanced by task lighting.  A good example of this would be your favorite reading chair where you may want a floor reading lamp that offers directional lighting onto the page of your book.  We suggest keeping task lights on their own switch so that unused areas don't need to be lit up until you need to use them.

Accent Light

Accent Light

Accent Lighting

Accent Lighting is directional light that highlights a specific object, an architectural detail, or other feature in your room.  Typical examples of accent lighting are recessed wall washers and stairwell lights.  An accent light will often have a cover over it to direct light in a certain direction.  When you consider lighting for your home, think about any areas you would like to highlight such as a highly textured stone wall, stairs, or a bookcase.  We light halogen lights for accent lighting, and suggest putting the lights on dimmers so that you choose between a soft, glowing highlight of the space or a strong feature light.

Aesthetic Light

Aesthetic Light

Aesthetic Lighting

There is such a thing as using light as art!  Perhaps you've seen sculptures that incorporate lighting into them.  We featured one on our Book Art post.  WE love this as a different way to add interest to a space.  Aesthetic lighting can also be used to highlight art.  Typical examples of aesthetic lighting are spotlights and picture lights.  When you consider lighting for your home, think about areas you want to show off such as a favorite piece of art, a beautiful object, or a plant (this can work outdoors too!).  We like halogen lights for aesthetic lighting and recommend putting them on dimmers so that you can control the amount of light each fixture gives off.

All of the above types of lighting can be layered in a space to offer functionality within a room, but also an inviting and pleasing environment.  Stay tuned to Design 101 to learn more about how to achieve a well lit home!

If you have questions about lighting, ask us now and we'll make sure to answer you this month.

Next Up: How to Choose a Light Bulb.  It's harder than you think!

Happy Lighting.

RB.

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