Proper lighting can make or break a space: do it right, and your room feels well-lit and perfectly designed, wrong, and the room looks too flat and dim. Tiffany (co-owner of Cape House and owner of Lola Interiors) shares the principles that guide her lighting decisions for both clients and her own home:
When choosing lighting for your space, address three important elements
: general (ambient) lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. General, or ambient, lighting provides overall illumination to the space. Accent lighting highlights specific elements in the room, adding texture and shape. Task lighting is pretty self-explanatory: it's purpose is to provide light for a specific job - think spot lights on a painting or a desk lamp. Every room should have a mix of these three types of light to create interest and address all lighting needs.
Let the room dictate the lighting mix. In every room, planning ahead for enough general overhead lighting is crucial
(for us, that more often than not comes in the form of recessed lighting). It's not easy to - and sometimes you can't - add it later on, so be sure to account for enough early in the design process. We often incorporate dimmers, so you can adjust the level of light for a number of needs and occasions. Beyond that, each room will have different requirements:
- Task lighting is important in the kitchen (nobody should be wielding a knife in a dimly lit space!) When placing can lights, avoid putting them behind where you plan to get work done - otherwise, shadows will be abundant! We love incorporating under cabinet lighting and/or a stylish sconce over the sink to ensure there's always enough task lighting.
- In the living room, we like to incorporate lamp light at different levels, mixing table and floor lamps - it's inviting light that can also serve as illumination for reading. Directional sconces or picture lights on living room built-ins add an element of style in addition to functionally spotlighting your display.
- In the bedroom, we love the inviting light that lamps bring. Not enough table space next to the bed? One of our favorite tricks is to install wall mounted lighting on a three-way switch - like a swing arm sconce - that can be used as task or ambient lighting without taking up real estate on your bedside chest.
- When choosing bathroom lighting, side sconces will always provide the most flattering light (think like professional makeup lighting). One of our favorite tricks for making the room feel larger is to mount sconces on top of a cut-glass mirror. It can actually be more cost effective than a framed mirror - and it makes a unique statement.
Time after time, we see lighting that is way too small proportionally for a space. From island lighting to lamps to chandeliers, bigger is best
(honestly, we've never met a mini pendant we actually liked). For example, the width of your dining room chandelier should be at least half the width of your table. For a kitchen island, fixtures should be 30"-36" inches apart and centered equidistant on the island. We like to have at least six inches between the outside of the pendants and the edges of the island. We'll let you do the math to determine what size and how many fixtures your space can accommodate! (And, on a side note: we don't like to use the same number of pendants as stools at the island... it's a little too perfect!)
Start with these three tips, and you'll be well on your way to securing proper lighting for your entire home! And it goes without saying that function is almost as important as form: pretty lighting is always the best lighting. (As our friend Landyn
says, "Make pretty choices!")
And while we're on the subject of lighting, is it time to refresh yours in time for the holidays? Cape House is here to help you out - join us November 4th through 11th for our¬† Daylight Savings Lighting Sale, where we'll offer 20% off all in-stock and special order lighting