Interior Home Lighting
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Lighting Your Home

Evaluating the best decorative and functional lighting solutions for any room in the house.

Lighting has become complex.

You bought a house. Congratulations!

Electrical fixtures were most likely included in the sale. Convenient in the short term; but, the previous owner’s taste may be quite different from your own aesthetic preferences. The solution is clear enough. You will just go shopping!!

Which quickly becomes overwhelming.

Understanding the different types of light bulbs alone could become a full time career.

The days of simple 40, 60 and 100 watt light bulbs are long gone. A little research reveals a great many product choices pertaining to your home’s interior lighting requirements. Perhaps a bit pricey initially, most of today’s bulbs are energy efficient and cost pennies to operate over the span of a year, but which type is best for typical household applications?

  • LED
  • Halogen
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent & CFL

LED or light-emitting diodes are energy efficient and a great choice for your light fixtures and free-standing lamps throughout the house. These bulbs contain no hazardous materials, are at full brightness instantly, last tens of thousands of hours and unless defective, do not burn out – they only fade over time.

Halogen bulbs present a cool white light. Primarily used in pendant and recessed lighting applications, they run quite hot and there is some concern of a possible fire hazard.

Incandescent light bulbs were phased out in Canada in 2014. Exemptions meeting government standards are allowed for decorative lamps and chandeliers, oven lights and appliance bulbs.

Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) have made advancements in terms of the harshness of the light they emit. Certainly long lasting, they do require special handling and disposal owing to the mercury sealed inside the bulb.

Light bulbs are categorized by their intensity and colour.

Brightness is denoted by Lumens, a measure of the visible light output of a bulb. The higher the value, the more intense the light output. Kelvin, is a scale that measures a light’s colour.

  • Warm Glow
  • Soft White
  • Bright White
  • Cool White
  • Daylight

All manufactures reference the same generally accepted categories but there can be subtle differences between brands. A little trial and error may be needed to find the products that feel the most comfortable to you, but considering their long lasting attribute, it may be worth a trip to your local home improvement store to see the bulbs in action in the lighting aisle.

Light bulbs are available in a variety of shapes: candelabra, standard bulb, reflector style, globe and oversized to name but a few. In turn, bulbs feature different base types, the most common being A-Type. A good feature to look for in any bulb is whether it is dimmable.

Choosing fixtures and lamps for their function and beauty.

Eclectic overhead lighting.

There is no shortage of options – at every price point. One of the most important design elements of your home, lighting sets the tone and enables everyday activities. There are three distinct categories: ambient, task and accent.

  1. AMBIENT fills the room with an overall even light.
  2. TASK illuminates a work area or office desk.
  3. ACCENT showcases features and displays.

Traditionally ambient lighting is used to illuminate most rooms. Task lighting is an essential kitchen tool, a dimmable dining room chandelier sets the mood, and accent lighting throughout the home can highlight a wall of photographs or an amazing fireplace.

Next, there is the matter of style and finish. Fortunately, manufacturers offer “suites” creating a cohesive design that may include chandeliers, semi-flush and flush mounts, pendants and wall sconces that can be mixed and matched and used in different areas of the home to serve various functions.

Fundamental rules to follow in good interior lighting design.

Minimalist lamp over table.

You are the best authority as to where to use ambient, task and accent lighting in your home. Deciding the style and finish most suited to your decor is easy with so many available selections.

And – not every rule or tradition needs to apply.

I see nothing wrong with a chandelier in the ensuite or in the bedroom of a little princess.

Some rooms in the home often present more of a challenge. [I have used imperial measurements, but if you prefer metric, the principle is the same.]

The Foyer

No matter how modest or how grand your home, the foyer deserves special attention, yet this is where you will find the most mistakes in lighting design. Specifically, fixtures are either too large or too small for the space.

Here’s a tip. Measure the width and length of the area in feet and add the results together. This will give you an appropriately sized light fixture in inches. To clarify, if the width of the foyer is six feet and the length twelve feet, the overhead fixture’s diameter should be around eighteen inches. If your home has a single floor plan or enclosed ceiling, the bottom of the fixture should be seven feet from the floor. In an open concept foyer, a tiered chandelier could be centered in a window above the front entrance.

The Dining Room

No doubt, the most frequently asked question involves the correct lighting of a dining room table. Start with the table: it determines the size of your fixture. If the table width is thirty-six inches, then your chandelier should be no more than twenty-four inches wide. In other words, twelve inches less than the table.

The bottom of the fixture will generally be thirty to thirty-six inches from the top of the table and is determined by your ceiling height. For an eight foot ceiling, the correct span from the tabletop to the bottom of the fixture would be thirty inches. Add an additional three inches for every extra foot of ceiling height over eight feet.

The Kitchen

A kitchen is task oriented but far too often, it is woefully under-illuminated. Recessed (pot) lighting provides an excellent wash of light for the room, but work areas and islands should have their own dedicated light source.

The Outside

Illuminating the exterior of your property is just as important as lighting the interior. Options range from a single craftsman-style hanging fixture above the front door to recessed LED lights and spotlights showcasing the entire facade. Landscape lighting not only provides security, it highlights the beauty of your home.

More information pertaining to exterior security using smart technology will be featured in a future article.

Lighting has the power to change the appearance, character and function of your home.

Beautiful kitchen with pot and hanging lighting.
Photo by Mark McCammon from Pexels

The purpose of bringing luminosity to where we live has remained unchanged since the invention of the light bulb. A scientific achievement that forever altered our world; it gave us the ability to be productive, social and active well into the night hours.

But, there have also been refinements. Lighting sets the ambiance of a family holiday meal. It shines a focus on home cooking lessons with our children. It dims for movie night. The illumination of our living space is many things: versatile, essential, vibrant, precise, decorative – and a fun shopping trip.

Top Photo by Douglas Sheppard on Unsplash
Cheryl Tym, Sales Representative, REMAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage
Cheryl Tym
REALTOR®, RE/MAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage

A full time REALTOR® dedicated to providing the best possible service and outcome for clients and their families. International sales, marketing and negotiating skills were part of the daily routine while living and working overseas as Director of Operations for an international hospitality marketing firm. A graduate of Sheridan’s Interior Design Program, and recipient of the Professionalism Award, my artistry and knowledge will highlight the very best features of your property, inside and out.

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Oakville, Ontario, L6J 1J3
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