Make Your Home Glow with Smart Lighting Design

Who doesn’t love Lite-Brite? Introduced in the late 60’s, it was one of Hasbro’s most successful products, wisely re-invented with evolving features that kept pace with each new generation.

Image credit: Pacific Outdoor Living via DesignMine

Lighting in homes has evolved, too – the standing floor lamp is ancient by today’s lighting standards. Homes nowadays boast grand foyer chandeliers, iridescent underwater pool lights, and dimmers that rival movie theater lighting. We’ve even got designers tasked with creating an optimal lighting plan tailored to a home’s unique layout. Whether you want to actually see that magazine you’re reading or up your home’s resale value, buying a floor lamp just won’t cut it.

Fortunately, you don’t need to hire a pro to appropriately light your home. The general rule of thumb is to have one light source for every 100 sq. ft., but the needs of each room vary. I’m shedding light on the best ways to illuminate five key rooms in every home.

Kitchen – Often a multi-purpose space, the kitchen requires a combination of general and task lighting. Recessed lighting works well overall, but it’s important to add other light sources for specific areas.

Aside from hanging fixtures over the table and island, consider installing lights underneath overhead cabinetry to light countertops when prepping meals. If your kitchen has open shelving, add small puck lighting in between shelves, where shadows tend to fall. And, remember to add a small lamp to your kitchen’s desk or workspace.

Bright Idea: Using an odd number of fixtures over an island creates a sense of balance. Just how many pendants will you need? Lighting designers stick to the one per 2 ft. of counter space rule.

Living Room – Recessed lighting is a must in the living room, where various nooks and crannies tend to get lost in the dark. Include reading lamps on either side of the sofa or console lamps behind, and spotlight cases of books and DVDs or artwork. If a fireplace is the focal point, consider up-lighting on either side or down-lighting the mantle for a dramatic effect. Take a look at the selection of light bulbs on Pagazzi for inspiration. The more different types of bulbs you have, the more interesting things look.

Bright Idea: If your living room houses a game table, hang an overhead fixture or install track lighting to light up that area, too.

Dining Room – If you’re a homeowner who still values a formal dining space, an over-the-table fixture is necessary. Chandeliers and other hanging fixtures often end up being disproportionate to the room they’re in, so be sure to size it appropriately. Generally, the bigger the room (or higher the ceilings), the larger the fixture can be. Additionally, add wall sconces or buffet table lamps that can be dimmed for special occasions.

Bright Idea: Place small puck lighting inside china cabinets to make dishes and stemware sparkle.

Bedroom – Like the kitchen, the bedroom requires a mix of ambient and task lighting. Use track or recessed lighting and bedside lamps or sconces for reading and TV viewing. Consider carrying the recessed lighting into the closet, where they won’t take up space in an already pint-sized area.

Bright idea: Install dimmers to create your ideal ambience – or, if you frequently forget to flip the off switch at night, install a clapper!

Bathroom – Whether it’s a luxurious master or hallway powder room, most bathrooms lack sufficient lighting. Instead of the overhead light/fan combo, it’s best to have a mix of ambient lighting, lights near the mirror, and lighting over the shower or bath. For mirror fixtures, your best bet is to place them near eye level on either side.

Bright Idea: To really bathe the room in light, install a skylight. Keep in mind that if it’s on a sloping roof facing south, the room will be bright and sunny, but very warm. If it’s on a sloping roof facing north, the room will be softly lit all day long and significantly cooler.

With these tips and tricks, you’ll see your home in a whole new light.

(And for the Lite-Briters out there, the product is now an iPad app. Or, you can play it on Hasbro’s site. You’re welcome.)

Contributed by Suzanne De Vita, Housecall