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Guest Post:  Lighting a Room With Purpose

Guest Post: Lighting a Room With Purpose

Today’s guest post comes to us from Ross Donald.  Lighting is one of the most important elements of any room – both in terms of function and of beauty; yet, it’s often the most overlooked and under-planned elements in any design project.  Read on for some great questions to ask BEFORE you begin planning the lighting for your next decorating or home improvement project.

Lighting a room sounds easy. “Throw a lamp there, some ceiling lights over here and you’re good to go. Right? The windows will do most of the work anyway.” Simpleton thinking like this can take a room with a million options and make it nearly worthless.

Wall sconce

Photo courtesy Bellacor.com

But just a moment’s thought and a bit of planning can turn a room into a destination you desire, – somewhere you enjoy. When starting to plan a room’s lighting, begin by asking yourself three questions: 1) What do I plan to do in this room, more often than not? 2) What is the window light like? (Which directions do the windows face? How big are they?) And 3) What sort of mood do I want to evoke from this room?

Just like any great story, we too, must start at the beginning. What do I plan to do in this room? Is it an office? A bedroom? Your garage or an operating room? This is the single most important question when deciding on a lighting design. You don’t want the bright, eye opening lights of a dentist’s office in your baby’s nursery any more than you want the dull, darkness of a theater room in your home office. (I dare you to stay awake after lunch while doing paperwork in a dim room.) Multipurpose rooms, such as family rooms and more than likely the dining room, should have adjustable lighting. That might mean dimmer switches, curtains or even just several different types of lighting including lamps.

bathroom lighting

Secondly, what are the windows like? There’s no doubt about it, window light is the best light. Here in the northern hemisphere, our south-facing windows get blasted with light all day long. When east-facing windows get great morning light and those looking west get those beautiful sunsets. Eastern windows are great in bedrooms because the morning light gets you up and out of bed on time for work. Rooms with north facing windows might seem dim and worthless, but they make perfect theaters. If you’re stuck with a bright room that needs to be dim, you may need blackout curtains. Remember, window lighting not only changes throughout the day, it also changes season to season.

And last, but certainly not least, what mood do you want to to evoke? Bright rooms make you feel energized, like you can take on the world. Darker rooms make you sleepy and even sometimes, sad. Overhead lighting, especially fluorescent, gives a feeling of industry that doesn’t fit in a living situation, but lower, diffused lighting will fit the bill nicely.

track light

Photo courtesy Bellacor.com

Interior lighting doesn’t have to be difficult.  In fact, it can be a great weekend project, and when you’re done you get to sit back, relax and take in your hard work in your well-lit room. Then you’ll be all set to get some work done or relax, or do whatever your room was intended for. The lighting around you plays a much bigger role than most people realize, so make sure it’s suited for your needs. You’ll be happy you did.

Ross Donald is an interior design junkie with a bad writing habit. His free time is often spent wondering the aisles of Home Depot and daydreaming about DIY projects. Ross writes for the interior lighting supplier LightingSale.com.

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