All About ReDecorating
October, 2004 edition

Layering Your Lighting

By Jan Creamer Girouard

How many times do you walk into a room and it just doesn’t feel right to you. You can’t seem to pinpoint what is wrong, however, it somehow isn’t warm and inviting. You start questioning is it color, is it furniture placement, is it the window treatments or could it be the lighting. Sometimes it can be all of the above, however, the majority of homes I visit, lighting is always an issue by either being too bright or very inadequate.

Have you ever sat in a room and the only light is the ceiling fixture? What usually happens is the room looks washed out and not intimate. Keep in mind a ceiling fixture is needed for your overall general lighting, however, much more is needed. One way to achieve a better balance is what I call “layering your lighting”.

Using a living room as an example, think of all the functions in that room and what the proper lighting will be needed to achieve the right balance. Here are a few ideas to think about.

On either side of the sofa you may need either table lamps or floor lamps. If you require table lamps the approximate height should be between 25”to 28” tall. Most of the homes I’m in, the lamps are too short for an appropriate height and comfortable reading.

Adding a picture light over paintings not only highlights a particular piece, you get added lighting by it softly washing down on the furnishings below.

If you see any corner that happens to be too dark, you can place silk trees or plants and add a spot light behind the tree/plant and instantly you have created a dramatic look in that area when the light filters up through the tree reflecting on the ceiling.

By adding recessed or track lighting, where appropriate, you can instantly showcase your wall art and furnishings, illuminate your surroundings and add instant warmth to the room.

Once you have achieved the proper balance in lighting your room, one little idea with big results is adding dimmers to your lighting. No matter what mood you’re trying to achieve controlling your lighting with dimmers will add so much depth and interest to “layering your lighting”.

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