Bright ideas to light up your home

By Terry Lobb

Lighting used to be simple.

High ceilings, single pendant fitting in the middle of the room occasionally joined by wall lights and table lamps for a bit of mood lighting, or just to help light the room.

The pendant fitting acted as general lighting, sometimes with a single clear bulb, a chandelier, or three to five lights in one fitting.

There was limited choice in the size of the bulbs and the colour they produced but the aim was to light the room so, often, the largest watt bulb available was used. The light produced a soft yellow tone that flooded the room creating a warm atmosphere.

Nowadays we are spoiled for choice with lighting for rooms, wardrobes, under cabinets, in drawers, uplighters, downlighters and wall washers. We also have a choice of colours, from cool whites to warm whites.

Light creates an emotional response in us when we enter a room or a shop. There are some shops where the lighting makes me feel very tired and others that make me feel uncomfortable. Some shops I find it a struggle to go into because of the choice in lighting.

Many of our older homes still retain the original positioning of the light fittings as some homes have never been renovated.

The tungsten and other incandescent bulbs tend to have been replaced with more energy efficient light bulbs but left in the original settings.

There will come a time when we only use energy efficient lamps as there will be nothing else available. With the changes in energy efficient lighting, come the changes on how we use lighting in our homes or workplaces.

Various styles of lighting have been used for years in our homes; now there is a change from ceiling pendants to ceiling buttons and recessed lighting. Many existing fittings are now being fitted with compact fluorescent or halogen lamps.

New builds tend to be more conscious of energy lighting but do not always get the correct balance.

A few years back when I was part of the judging panel for the regional judging for House of the Year, one of the new homes we judged had 26 holes in the ceiling to accommodate the lighting, heating system and sound system. A beautiful home with outstanding views of the sea, clean lines, huge windows, timber floors ... but, when you walked into the living area, your eye was automatically drawn to the ceiling and all the clutter. You would have felt like you were constantly changing bulbs as I'm sure there must have been one or two at a time that blew throughout this home. There must have been a better solution for the lighting.

One of the biggest problems I come across is home owners buying different coloured bulbs. The majority of bulbs we buy off the shelf for our homes are warm whites or cool whites and if you mix the two in one room of recessed lighting it is very noticeable.

Apart from the ceiling looking very odd, parts of the room will have the colour washed out of the walls and furnishings, while the other parts will appear warmer and more what we are used to.

You can't successfully decorate a room with different coloured ceiling lamps; the colour will change the colours in the room. Some people will prefer the warmer tones at night while others will like the crisp colour of a cool white.

Bulbs are clearly marked, read the labels and choose wisely.

Another issue I find, mainly in renovations, is that although the lighting has been undated, it is often placed in the wrong place or there is not enough lighting. You need to have a lighting plan and take into consideration what the room is used for as well as colour and texture, so that the correct lighting is used. When you have gone to the expense of having a ceiling replaced, it is very disappointing to find that when the room is complete, the lighting is inadequate.

Some colours will suck the light out of a room while other colours will keep the spaces light and airy. Texture also has an impact on how light is within the room.

Ideally, if in doubt, look at the lights you are purchasing to see if they do what you require them to do. It is a lot easier to get it right after a little research than to shift the fittings and plaster up the holes.

In a room you should consider general lighting which illuminates the room so that you can move around safely (the old pendant light bulb), tasking lighting so you can complete tasks such as reading or work in the kitchen, and accent lighting. Accent lighting can be in the form of swivel ceiling lights that illuminate art or a lit cabinet.

There are other lighting definitions such as decorative and kinetic and these can cross over into the other types of lighting depending on the fitting.

A combination of lighting is important so that there is a good mix to cover all that is required in the room. Table lamps can be used for task lighting and decorative/mood lighting.

Mix things up a little to create different atmospheres for different parts of the day or night.

I have only ever visited one home that had no ceiling lights. All the lighting was at a lower level, mainly table lamps and the occasional wall light illuminating art.

The lamps were beautiful at night, creating soft pulls of light throughout the room. The walls were light and the shades on the lamps were warm fabric tones. There was definitely enough general lighting and the lamps doubled as task lighting. A lovely feel to the room.

If you have any questions about issues discussed or product supply give me a call on 0276023298 or drop me a line on (website under construction)

- Wanganui Chronicle

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