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Thursday, March 4, 2010

LIGHTING DESIGN | ARCHITECT EXPLAINS

People are becoming increasingly interested in decorating their home in their own personal style. They want to create the perfect atmosphere and ambience in every room. This can be achieved by the right use of colour, lighting, furniture and furnishings. 







LIGHTING: Proper, well designed lighting is absolutely essential for a room to be functionally and aesthetically perfect. Different types of lighting can create different moods, add beauty to your home and of course prevent you from bumping into the furniture. And changing your lighting can also be a very cost effective way to update, change the style or remodel your home.

BASIC LIGHTING TYPES:
There are different lighting needs in any living or work space, that need specific lighting solutions.There are three basic types of lighting - general lighting, task lighting and accent lighting, A good lighting plan will incorporate all three basic lighting types to create layers of light to provide illumination, make tasks easier and highlight key design features.
  • General Lighting: It is also known as ambient lighting and provides an area with overall illumination. It is a basic form of lighting to replace sunlight and enables you to see and walk around safely by radiating a comfortable level of brightness. General Lighting can be accomplished with chandeliers, ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures, recessed or track lights, and with lanterns outside your home.
  • Task Lighting: It is focused light that helps you perform specific tasks such as reading, sewing, cooking, homework, hobbies, games or keeping your accouints. Task lighting needs to be bright enough to prevent eye strain and should be free of distracting glare and shadows. It can be provided by recessed and track lighting, pendant lighting and portable lamps.
  • Accent Lighting: Accent Lighting highlights des ign features in and around your home and adds drama to a room by creating visual interest. It is generally used to spotlight paintings, house plants, sculpture, prized possessions or to highlight the texture of a wall, drapery or outdoor landscaping. Accent lighting requires at least three times as much light on the focal point as the general lighting around it. This usually is provided by track, recessed or wall-mounted fixtures.
LIGHTING FIXTURE TYPES:
The lighting is provided by Light fixtures. A Light Fixture is an electrical device used to create artificial light or illumination. Here is a list of the most commonly used light fixtures in a house.
  • Ceiling Lights - These are light fixtures that are attached directly to the ceiling, with or without a gap between the fixture and ceiling.
  • Chandelier - A multi-arm, decorative, often ornate ceiling light fixture that holds a number of bulbs.
  • Pendant - An ornamental hanging fixture with no multiple arms.
  • Wall Sconces - An indoor decorative lighting fixture with a flat side to be hung on a wall.
  • Bath Lights / Vanity Lighting - Lighting typically installed above a mirror in which light bulbs form a bar or row.
  • Floor Lamp - A light fixture with one or more bulbs, designed to stand on the floor.
  • Torchiere - A tall floor lamp with a bowl-shaped glass that diffuses the light or directs it upward.
  • Table Lamp - A plug-in portable light with one or more bulbs, designed to stand freely on a table.

PLANNING FOR THE LIGHTING:
When planning the lighting for either a new construction or for your existing home, here are the basic things you need to think about:
  • The Budget: There is a lot of lighting available today and one can easily get carried away. So first keep the budget in mind. How much are you ready to splurge for all your lighting?
  • Style and taste: Take a look around your home. What d├ęcor makes you the most comfortable? Look through magazines and find pictures of rooms that appeal to you. If possible, have colour chips or fabric samples ready when you make your lighting purchase.
  • Decide the type of lighting for different areas: You will need general lighting for most areas, mood lighting for dining, entertaining, bedrooms etc., task lighting for doing homework or food preparation and accent lighting for spotlighting a sculpture or painting. Some areas will serve multiple purposes so you may need different types of lighting in a single location.
  • Keep the size of the room in mind: Take a look at the size of the room. If you have a 10’ ceiling in your dining room, a 3 tier 21 light chandelier won’t work for you. Likewise, if you have a double sink vanity in the bathroom with 3 mirrors an 18” bath bar won’t be adequate.
  • Note the position of the windows: Natural light plays a large role in the type of lighting you need. Look at where the windows are and how much light they let in and whether large plants or trees may partially block the sunlight. It is always important to consider both daytime and nightime lighting when choosing lights for your room or home.
  • Where’s the Electricity? For exisiting houses and remodeling jobs, you should know where the outlets and electrical boxes are, so that you can plan accordingly - the less re-wiring you have to do, the better.

DESIGNING THE LIGHTING:
When designing the lighting layout, take into account, the architecture of entire space, specific task needs for different rooms, placement of basic furniture, special decorative accessories and the overall colour of the room.

  • Light up the front entrance: The front entrance is the most important in the house, as it is known as the place where most of the energy comes into the home. To make your friends feel welcome, your entrance should have a warm, inviting and friendly atmosphere. Light up the entrance or porch to offer guests a warm welcome. As the light will be on for a significant period of time, use CFLs instead of incandescent bulbs.
  • Create an atmosphere: A single central light source in a room provides flat and boring illumination. Mix light sources and use table lamps or torchieres along with different types of bulbs to create a more dynamic and interesting atmosphere that will complement the colour schemes.
  • Take into account the function of each room: There are different lighting needs in any living or workspace, that need specific lighting solutions. For example, those who work or read a lot, make sure that there is sufficient task light to concentrate comfortably. On the other hand, to create the right romantic mood in your bedroom, use lights with a dimmer switch to vary the atmosphere. Dimmers can also be used in the dining room, so that you can adjust the lighting for an intimate meal or a  more lively dinner party.
  • Light Layers: The light you use to cut vegetables won’t be the right light for a cocktail party just as the light you use for reading the newspaper is unlikely to be the right one for watching movies on the big screen TV. You need to look at what activities actually happen in a room and design layers of light using General, Accent and Task lighting accordingly. The idea is to give the lighting in your home as much flexibility as possible.
  • Take the kitchen for example. You will need a top layer of general lighting provided by overhead lighting, which will make the day-to-day activities possible. You will also need a middle layer of task lighting, utilizing under cabinets to highlight your work areas. And you should add a bottom layer of accent lighting to add sparkle to a china cabinet or for an ambience glow under the toe kick. Make sure you can turn on the different layers independently by using independent switches so that depending on your activity and the mood you want to create, you can switch on the different layers.
  • Experiment: Good lighting can make or break a room and it needn't be complicated or expensive. Simply change a bulb or two and apply a few lighting techniques to brighten areas, soften colours, develop atmosphere and create positive vibes.

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