Let’s shed some light on how to light your space. There are basically four types of illumination used in homes: natural, general, task and accent lighting. Homes should have all four.
n Natural lighting, of course, comes from the great outdoors. It is believed that the more natural light we get in our homes, the healthier and happier we are. Our bodies produce vitamin D as a result of exposure to sunlight. We should allow as much light to come through our windows as possible. In some rooms, the sun might glare too harshly at certain times of day, so proper window treatments are necessary, such as sheer draperies; roll-down, see-through shades; or soft, see-through pleated shades.
n General illumination features overhead fixtures, such as chandeliers or recessed lighting. They all light up a space, but each has a different effect. General recessed lighting gives light without interfering with the space or the decor. Its purpose is to light the space, nothing more. A chandelier not only lights the space but also serves as an accessory. When hanging a chandelier over a table, place the bottom 32 to 36 inches above the top of the table. If a chandelier is going to hang in a room without a table underneath, then measure the room to get the right size for the chandelier.
To do so, measure the length and width of the room. Add those figures, and the total will give you the width the chandelier should be. For example, if a room is 18 feet by 20 feet, the chandelier should be about 38 inches wide.
n Task lighting is the next type of task lighting. Here, again, recessed lighting fits the bill. Task lighting sheds light in a specific work area, commonly over the stove or over counter space. Another type of task lighting is a lamp for the purpose of illuminating reading material or a study desk. When you’re seated, the lamp shade bottom should be at eye level so the light shines on the book. In laundry rooms, fluorescent light works well, as it is bright and costs less.
n Accent lighting is fun. A general description of an accent light is any lamp that is 60 watts or less, but an accent light is much more than that. Wall sconces fall in the accent-lighting category, as they shed light and serve as fashionable decorations. Accent lights can also highlight artwork on a wall or in a shelf. Recessed lighting works, too, as the light source can shine unobtrusively from the ceiling on to the chosen subject.
Another attractive accent light that gives a homey feeling is a small, quaint lamp set on just about any surface — an end table, a dresser or a bathroom counter.
So there you have it: Lighting 101. Hope you’ve been illuminated!
Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, is author of “Mystery of Color.” E-mail: DsgnQues@aol.com