Before You Color Your Walls, Check the Lighting
October 19, 2007 § 12 Comments
You may not have a chandelier quite as grand as this one for your dining room or entryway, but take a look at your current lighting situation. Although it may seem obvious, good lighting is critical. You need light to see color so before you paint your walls chocolate brown, check to see whether you have enough light in the room to see that gorgeous color. Otherwise it will fade out to gray or black.
You also need adequate task lighting like lamps for reading and pendant lights for cooking. You need some overhead lighting, like recessed cans for highlighting artwork, or chandeliers for mood lighting. But there are other kinds of lighting as well.
Wall sconces are ideal in the bathroom if hung at face level for optimal shaving and makeup application. Sconces are also wonderful for hallways and beside the fireplace to enhance the warm glow in the room. An uplight under a plant in the corner is a quick way to add drama to a room. The light shining up through the plant sends all kinds of interesting shapes onto the ceiling. “Fantasy lighting” creates a mood in a room but is inadequate for actually seeing anything. Soffit lights around the edge of the room give a soft, almost night-light feel to a room. If you’re redesigning a room, look at the lighting first.
Here are a few tips:
- Unless it’s a table lamp, install dimmers on everything from the chandelier in the dining room to the recessed cans in the kitchen. There’s nothing that kills the mood quicker than somebody coming into a room and throwing on the overhead light switch.
- Set up a triangle of lamps. Don’t have all your lighting on one side of the room. Balance it around the room so there aren’t any really dark areas.
- Replace that single bulb in the middle of the ceiling with either a semi-flush-mount light fixture in an up-to-date metal finish or some recessed cans around the perimeter of the room. All on a dimmer.
- Make sure your table lamps are the right scale for your tables. Small lamps are great for the bedroom, but larger lamps really go better in the living room. And tall skinny lamps look good on sofa tables and buffets.
- Don’t forget a floor lamp, excellent for a reading nook.
- And torchieres, like other uplights, throw light up onto the ceiling where it is reflected. Torchieres are a good balance to all the other light that is pointing down into the room.
Have fun with the lighting in your home. You can save money by using energy-efficient bulbs wherever possible, especially in lamps that you leave on a lot. But just remember that those energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs cast a cooler light than either halogens or incandescent bulbs and may change the color of your walls at night. Keep that in mind when you choose your wall color.