Why lighting should come first

We spend a lot of time making our homes functional and livable. With storage space and having all the mod cons. But it’s also important to us that our homes have style of ambience. Lighting plays an important role in both the functionality and the mood of a home. But it’s something we often think of, more as an afterthought. We labour over our home, picking colours, furniture, styles. And then when we’re finished, we spend a little time wandering about lighting.

We take a lot of pride in our homes. We want everything “just right” both for our family, and to offer us some sanctuary when the kids are in bed, and it’s time to unwind. Lighting plays an important with getting that balance right.

Lighting should be one of the first things you think about, and we’re going to lay out some of the more important things to bear in mind when planning your lighting so you can get it right.

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Taking Advantage Of Natural Lighting

Before we start playing around with different lighting options, we want to look at taking advantage of what God has given us, and that’s natural lighting. The goal is to exploit natural light as much as possible when you sit down to plan your home.

Ideally, when living in the northern hemisphere, you want your natural light source coming from the East, West or South. Avoid northern facing light sources whenever possible.

Reflect natural light

We can’t always get to dictate our light sources, and a nearby building or tree may block some of the natural light a room gets. So we want to try to maximize the natural light by reflecting it. There are a couple of ways we can do this, one of the easiest is to use mirrors. If you put your mirror on the opposite wall to the light source the mirror acts as a reflector. If you have a room that’s a little gloomy, try it, you’ll be amazed how effective it can be.

If it’s a really dark room that doesn’t get much natural light at all, then experiment with multiple mirrors. Obviously, you don’t want the room to look ridiculous but using mirrors or reflective surfaces will bounce the light around the room, almost like a domino effect.

Finally, you can take advantage of white, or off-white colours. They’ll also have some reflective value that will help to maximize the natural light a room gets. Some use lighter colours and a mirror combined with good results.

Augmenting with recessed lighting. (Using pot or can lights).

A good strategy for switching between full lighting and mood lighting, or to support a room that only gets natural light for certain periods of the day, we can often employ recessed lighting. Each light, when placed in the ceiling, and depending on exactly how high the ceiling is, can light up a certain section of the room. You’ll see a cone-shaped light cast on the floor. This opens up a world of possibilities.

This type of lighting is often used in rooms that don’t have great access to natural lighting. You don’t need to use overbearing light now; this is especially appreciated by people who are sensitive to bright lights. Older people, younger kids, people suffering from medical conditions

It’s also not a very expensive option. You can use halogen lighting if budgeting is an issue, or you have the more expensive options of low-voltage bulbs and LEDs. They all offer some advantages over the other, and it means there is a form of recessed lighting that fits every budget.

Dual lighting planning

There are specific rooms in every home, especially family homes where kids are running in and out, that need to be multifunctional. Which also means you have different needs from your lighting. It could be that it’s a high traffic room, with lots of time spent there during the day, where the lighting needs to be quite bright, but then, during the evening you might want to soften the lighting and its function changes to a space you might spend time relaxing

We can use different lighting to cater to our different lighting needs. A good solid lighting option, when you need plenty of light and you either live in a climate or your home is positioned as such, you don’t have a lot of natural light. Consider fluorescent lighting.

Most people are automatically “turned off” by the idea of fluorescent. Those clinical 4-metre strips we are more likely to find in a hospital or our office. But they’ve come a long way regarding style. The light as a source is bright, cool and cheap. If it can be delivered, it’s a great light for the day to day. And, as I said, it doesn’t need to look like office strip lighting.

For softer lighting, we can now explore the possibility of using well-positioned wall lights or spotlighting. Wall lights are great because they bring a lot of design to them, they can also be switch on and off manually as you move around the space. It’s very easy to use them to give that “warmth” we want from our lighting when we’re looking for ambience.

Because fluorescent lighting is so cost-effective, we can use it to run most of the day, and then use the specific wall lighting when we want a change, and it’s affordable.

In conclusion

Lighting is important to the feel and functionality of our home. Often, more important than we give it credence. It should always be part of our planning, not an afterthought. We have plenty of options available to us, but before trying being too complicated, we should make sure we utilize the natural light we have.

Mirrors help us to reflect the light into the room; multiple mirrors help to bounce the light even deeper into the room. Light colours also offer some reflective value.

Finally, think about halogen or fluorescent lighting. Both offer great value and can be elegant. Use wall lighting and spotlights to offer softer lighting or to help rooms that have some but not a lot of natural light.

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