Published April 19, 2012
The key to brightening up your home is to diversify lighting, so that there isn't one glaring light casting stark and jarring contrasts across the room. Below are a number of different, pleasurable light sources that can help make your home more aesthetically pleasing.
As the name suggests, task lighting will help you get things done. It helps you throughout the house. In the kitchen, task lighting is particularly important because you will need to see well while cooking with the stove or preparing food on a cutting board. Lighting under your cabinets will help you find supplies easier, and pendant fixtures help keep your general work area illuminated. Reading and desk lamps help with your scholastic projects and pleasures.
Ben Gibbs, the owner of Gibbs Electric (an electrical contracting firm), recommended LED (light-emitting diode) technology because it lasts longer and saves you more money.
Accent lighting draws attention to a particular object or location. This type of lighting can emphasize different areas. When you enter a room, your view is largely framed by the primary light source. Many times, the room will be so bright that you won't even know where the light sources are. However, if you dim the main light fixture, you can highlight pictures or create dynamic contrasts with smaller light sources.
Ambient lighting is the general illumination of a room that sets the mood of the space. In photography, it references light sources that are not explicitly supplied by the photographer (such as off-camera lights) that alter the atmosphere of the scene. In your home, whatever sets the overall tone is ambient light. This can be achieved by candles, ceiling-mounted lights, chandeliers or pendant lighting.
Another great way to enliven your home with new lighting is to incorporate natural light. If you replace heavy drapes with airy curtains or blinds, you will benefit from the natural daylight while maintaining your privacy. You won't need to use as much electricity powering your man-made light fixtures during the day. Since the sun changes its position over the course of the day, you will benefit from different angles, shadows and tones. During sunrise and sunset--the golden hours--the right room can be filled with gorgeous tones of amber and gold.
Skylights can be horizontal windows or roof lanterns. Owing to their optimal positioning, skylights allow more sunshine to enter your home and distribute it more evenly throughout a room. There is a novelty aspect to skylights because they cannot be equipped in all rooms and regular windows are clearly far more common.
However, skylights are inexpensive and shouldn't be thought of as a luxury item. Aside from their pleasant presence and captivating appearance, they will reduce your reliance on other forms of expensive lighting. They work particularly well in areas such as the kitchen or family room, where a lot of people congregate and light will be needed throughout the day.
Only install skylights if the sun passes directly over the top of your house, unobstructed by trees. Emmy award-winning home design expert Christopher Lowell said, "I've seen people go to the expense of installing them only to find out later that no direct sun light ever reaches them."
Internal windows will allow light from throughout the house to flow from one room to another. Aside from animating your home, this will also open up your home and make it appear more spacious and inviting.