Designing With Light In The Living Room Or Family Room
When designing a lighting plan for a living room or family
room, you need to consider the variety of activities that occur
there. You'll want to include general lighting for entertaining
and watching television, task lighting for reading or sewing,
and accent lighting for artwork, plants, and interesting
Dimming controls are ideal for the
living room because they allow you to design the lighting to
suit each mood and activity.
||Fireplaces made of brick or stone can
be emphasized with
recessed downlights installed
in the ceiling over the mantle to create an
intriguing grazing effect across the surface.
Wall sconces on each side
of the fireplace are an attractive addition that
draws attention to the fireplace area, while
providing general lighting for the living room.
||Reading requires task lighting that
comes from behind the reader's shoulder. This
can be accomplished by placing a
either at the right or the left of the reading
chair. The bottom of the shade should be located
at eye level to avoid glare.
||Paintings can be highlighted with
low-voltage, tungsten-halogen picture lights.
These frame-mounted lights spread a beam of
bright, white light across the face of the
House plants can be accented by
aiming an uplight can at the wall behind the plant,
creating a dramatic silhouette of the plant against the
||Bars can be lighted from above with
track fixtures, or with miniature,
low-voltage pendants that hover intimately over
Glass shelves and glassware can
be accented by two
recessed adjustable fixtures. The use
of low-voltage fixtures with tungsten-halogen bulbs will
emit a bright white light that will make glassware
sparkle, while providing added illumination for serving
||TV, video games, and computers
require low-level general lighting that does not
wash out the screen's image nor reflect into the
Miniature track lighting can be
installed under shelves to provide both general
and accent lighting. Choose from accent spots,
mini-lights, and compact or linear fluorescent
||Game tables require bright, even
overhead lighting. Shaded pendants equipped with
either incandescent bulbs or energy-efficient
compact fluorescent tubes are one solution (see
illustration). Or, install two
recessed downlights over each half of the table.
Designing with Light in the Dining Room
Dining room lighting should be both beautiful and
functional. This requires a mix of general, task, and
accent lighting that can set the mood for a number of
functions, including a formal dinner, a family
get-together, and other activities such as homework,
hobbies, or family bookkeeping.
Dimming controls will
enable you to vary the light for each occasion.
Designing with Light in the Kitchen
The kitchen is primarily a work area,
but it is also a gathering place for family and friends.
Lighting that is comfortable as well as functional is
||A large ceiling fixture, equipped
with energy-efficient fluorescent tubes will
supply plenty of well-diffused general lighting, but it may leave you
working in your own shadow at the sink, range,
and countertops. These areas need supplemental
task lighting. For example, two track lights
over the sink will give you the illumination you
need for washing dishes and scouring pots and
||At the sink and range, an individual
recessed downlight, equipped with an
energy-efficient compact fluorescent tube, will
provide you with adequate task lighting when
installed in the ceiling or in soffits over
these two busy work areas.
||Dinettes, nooks, and island counters
can be lighted with
decorative pendants. When
used with a
dimmer control, these ceiling-hung
fixtures will provide you with adequate task
lighting for homework, hobbies, or family
business and allow you to lower the light for
dining or entertaining.
Undercabinet lighting is ideal for
countertops. Mount as close to the front of the
cabinets as possible to avoid glare reflecting
off work surfaces. Choose energy-efficient
fluorescent fixtures (they generally range from
12 to 48 inches long) that cover at least
two-thirds the length of the counter.
Kitchen cabinets can be accentuated
by placing low-voltage mini-lights over, under,
or inside cabinets.
Soffits and other
concealed locations can also be treated
effectively with this type of lighting. These
inconspicuous strips of miniature incandescent
bulbs will highlight your cabinetry, while
adding a warm, comfortable atmosphere to your
Designing with Light in the Bedroom
When lighting a bedroom, you will want
to create an overall atmosphere of quiet relaxation,
while providing some bright spots for reading and other
activities. A combination of general and task lighting
that takes into account the age and lifestyle of the
occupant(s) is needed. Remember,
dimming controls give
you the flexibility to vary the light to suit different
moods and activities.
||General lighting can be provided by
recessed downlights, or
wall sconces, giving you
the illumination you need to dress and see into
drawers and closets.
||At the dressing table, an adjustable,
lighted magnifying mirror will provide ideal
lighting for grooming and applying makeup.
For closets, a recessed or
closet light is suggested
Swing-arm wall lamps on either side
of the bed will provide adequate light for
reading, while leaving night tables free for a
clock-radio, books, or beverages.
||Another idea is to hang pendants next to the
bed, or install
recessed downlights in
the ceiling over the bed.
||Children's rooms will benefit from
the use of
track lights, which can be swiveled,
rotated, and aimed in any direction to shed
light on play areas, hobbies, or homework. As
the child grows older, the fixtures can be moved
and redirected toward a stereo cabinet or
Designing with Light in the Bathroom
||In the bathroom, you need plenty of even,
shadow-free lighting for shaving, grooming, and
applying makeup. In small bathrooms, mirror
lights will illuminate the entire room, but in
larger bathrooms, an additional
is needed for general lighting. A recessed
infrared heat lamp will give you added warmth on
||For small mirrors, decorative
wall brackets on each side will illuminate both sides
of your face evenly. You can also mount a wall
bracket across the top of the mirror. Fixtures
equipped with incandescent bulbs behind glass or
plastic diffusers provide the most flattering
light. If you opt for more energy-efficient
fluorescents, choose warm white tones. They come closest to the
color of incandescents.
Theatrical lighting strips around
your bathroom mirror will give you the same
excellent lighting the stars enjoy in their
Broadway dressing rooms.
||Tub and shower enclosures can be
adequately lighted by placing an enclosed
recessed downlight in the ceiling.
These downlights are also recommended over
whirlpool baths or in saunas.
Designing with Light in the Home Office
When lighting a home office, you will
want to create a comfortable environment that is free of
harsh contrasts and distracting glare. You will need
task lighting for reading, writing, and computer work,
and general lighting for the surrounding area. You may
also want to include accent lighting for prized
Two large ceiling fixtures,
containing energy-efficient fluorescent tubes,
will provide plenty of well-diffused general
lighting, while eliminating shadows on the desk.
Place the fixtures over head and to the right
and left of the desk so the light comes over the
shoulder. Lighting placed in front of a desk
will cause troublesome reflections.
An adjustable table lamp will provide
additional light to the desk and keyboard areas.
Position the lamp so it is not reflected in the