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Residential architects who specialize in the hot, humid, southern climate

Cast Your Home in a Flattering Light


Lighting can make a big difference in your home. A stunning chandelier and the perfectly located accent light both add beauty and drama to a space. Residential lighting is best when a variety of light sources provide the necessary illumination for daily activities and complements your lifestyle. 

There are five types of lighting that, when layered, provide usable light for day-to-day activities. Remember, all spaces might not need all types of lights.

AMBIENT LIGHTING

This is the gentle, overall lighting for a room. This light fills a room with a warm glow. The nicest ambient light comes from an indirect light source that is bounced off the ceiling. Cove lighting, ceiling-mounted lights, pendants, recessed cans, track lights and wall sconces are fixtures that provide ambient lighting.

TASK LIGHTING

This is lighting that illuminates the area where you are working or reading. These fixtures include under cabinet lights, recessed lights and portable reading lights.

ACCENT LIGHTING 

This type is the dramatic light. These lights highlight works of art, give depth to a room or  wash over interesting textures in your home. Recessed adjustable ceiling fixtures, track lighting and uplights are types commonly used for accent lighting.

DECORATIVE LIGHTING

I call this type “eye candy.” The main purpose of decorative lighting is to look pretty. Most chandeliers and some wall sconces are for decoration. These fixtures should not be too bright or they will overpower other design elements of the space.

NATURAL DAYLIGHT

This light comes straight from Mother Nature. Windows, light tubes and skylights give great light during the day and can reduce the need for electrical lighting.

I like to incorporate the following lighting scenarios in almost all of my projects.

• In bathrooms, do not place a wall-mounted fixture over the mirror. It will cast harsh shadows and prematurely age you. Instead, use two wall sconces mounted on either side of the mirror. The fixtures should be at eye level, which is generally 5 feet above the finished floor. Tall narrow fixtures accommodate most family members.

• The traditional design for bedside reading lights is a wall-mounted, swing-arm fixture that should be mounted at the right height for actual reading. A better solution is two recessed, adjustable LED ceiling fixtures located over the bed. The lamps should have a tight beam spread, such as a MR-16 ESW. The fixture on the right should be aimed at the left side of the bed and vice versa to prevent your head from casting a shadow on your book. The switches should be located accordingly. The fixtures should be located roughly 18 to 24 inches from the wall and two feet from the center of the bed.

• Chandeliers over dining tables often do not provide the lighting necessary to show off the sparkle of your crystal and silver. Instead, opt for the same recessed ceiling fixtures that were used as reading lights in the bedroom. Install these over your table as accent lights. The bulbs should have a wider beam spread than those in the bedroom. They should be located on the long axis of the table, about three to six feet from the middle.

• Add dimmer to almost all fixtures throughout your house. This will help control the amount of light and extend the life of the lamp.