Design Lesson

Design lesson: Truly illuminating

Style at Home
Design Lesson

Design lesson: Truly illuminating

Whether decorating a single room or a house, budget and style certainly sway the outcome, but true design victory is achieved by addressing all the physical and spychological needs of the inhabitants. In short, make each person feel comfortable. While a logical floor plan and the right furniture choices are essential, an intelligent, flexible lighting scheme is indispensable. For the price of a single table lamp, you can create a more flattering, comfortable and cosy environment to live in.

Do's and don'ts
DO develop a lighting plan in conjunction with the floor plan. A successful design project requires comfy furniture optimally arranged and the support of a proper lighting scheme.

DO supply adequate general illumination for daily tasks. In the kitchen, that may include undercounter lighting or a chandelier to light a dining table; in the bedroom, a reading lamp; in the office, a desk lamp.

DO temper overhead pot lights -- which I refer to as "hag lighting" for their undesirable facial effect -- with incandescent sources at eye level. Sconces, table lamps and floor lamps provide a warm, flattering glow to rooms and inhabitants. They're better than a facelift!

DO include a diffused, direct bedside light to accommodate reading. A lamp with a semiopaque shade of pleated silk, stretched linen or plain parchment is ideal. The bottom of the lampshade should be at eye level when you're seated. Swing-arm wall lamps are another option, allowing you to operate lights independently while freeing up space on night tables for a clock, radio or book.

DON'T ignore lighting needs inside closets and cupboards; you'll want to be able to distinguish between navy and black pants. A surface-mounted light fixture, frequently a long narrow valance due to the closet's proportions, is the most common choice. Lights that automatically activate as the closet door swings open save you a few steps on busy mornings.

DON'T submit to gloominess indoors -- outside weather affects inside lighting. Supplement daytime lighting with warm incandescent fixtures like table and floor lamps. Place light sources near windows to create the illusion that light is filtering in naturally.

DON'T block incoming daylight unintentionally. Keep windows clean and landscaping trim. And since fabric becomes a filter for incoming light, avoid sheers that are grey or dull in colour. Instead, choose warm-tone sheers with a hint of yellow, pink or coral.

DON'T ignore a senior's need for enhanced lighting. Older eyes require bright, crisp lighting but are also more sensitive to glare. Choose bulbs that are sufficiently vivid and always top with shades. Keep light switches simple or colour-code them -- for example, red for general lighting, blue for evening lighting.

Kimberley's guide to romantic bedroom lighting
• Dimmable lighting enhances the mood and adds confidence as clothes come off!

• Fit a table lamp with a coloured bulb -- say, rose or amber for a flattering glow.

• Consider placing secondary light switches beside the bed so you don't have to get up.

• To illuminate a dressing table, especially one at which you apply makeup, it's important that light not come from above; it will cast unwanted shadows beneath the eyes. Aim for even lighting on both sides of your face (cross lighting) as it's the most flattering for grooming. Cross lighting can be supplied by a pair of table lamps or wall sconces. Failing that, a single lamp, preferably one with a flexible arm and head, can be used. An adjustable lighted magnifying mirror is a must-have for those over 40.

• Firelight provides the most romantic lighting. No fireplace? Light a variety of candles!


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Design Lesson

Design lesson: Truly illuminating