Have you ever cut your finger while chopping veggies because you can't see? Or stubbed your toe as you stumbled through a too-dark bedroom? Or missed the toilet because you refused to turn on the light in the middle of the night? I, very thankfully, haven't done any of these things because of poor lighting. I have managed to do them all because I was in la-la land.
However, there's an easy way to fix these mishaps and save yourself the curse words for a better time (like when that guy cut you off in traffic).
Light Your Home!
Lighting doesn't have to be scary, expensive, or, like my partner seems to believe, as bright as the sun! We had a daily struggle between my lighting requirements - ie. please don't turn on the sun before 8:30 AM or after 8 PM - and his - ie. I will turn on the sun at every time of day and night. Our challenge? Our home did not have enough lighting layers. Or dimmer switches. With a very small investment, we changed both. And now there's no grumpy me in the morning or frustrated him in the evening :D
Ok, here's the basics. There are several categories of lighting. The most important: ambient/general; task; and accent. Here's what they mean:
Ambient, or general, lighting is the overall lighting in a given space. Typically this is achieved through an overhead fixture of some sort. Read: the light in your hallway, the one in the middle of the kitchen, or the centre of any room. The purpose of this light is to give general light throughout the space. This is typically not vegetable-cutting lighting.
Task lighting is for, well, tasks! I'm telling you, this stuff is so easy, you'll be an expert in no time! Task lighting is the light source you have directly over a task you are doing ie. a desk lamp, a vanity light (though this may also fall under ambient lighting), or undercabinet lighting if you work at the counter. The purpose of this light is to prevent you from cutting your fingers off and keep you from needing to find your "stupid glasses" (my Mom's favorite term). It directly lights the area you are working at.
Accent lighting is the funnest one!! This layer of light is specifically to highlight a feature - like rake down a stone wall - or to add a bit of pop to a given space. This is typically the layer that most people forget or forgo. It is often purely for aesthetics but adds a HUGE element to a space!
Lighting and YOU!
Ok, so now that you're an expert on the different types of lighting, how do you make it look awesome and prevent those "Don't turn the sun on!" morning-breath discussions? Well, the key to a well-lit space is LAYERING. Ahhhhh...... like dressing for fall.... :-)
Meaning: a room should not have only one source of light for good lighting. A well-lit and beautiful kitchen, for example, often has a centre fixture [ambient light] as well as undercabinet lighting [task/accent light] and possibly even pendants over an island or sink [accent/task light]. When the kitchen is bustling, often all of the lights are on. This enables you to see what you're doing at every work space, to see inside all the cabinets, and to see what's on the floor (if you're a messy cook, this IS important).
The kitchen pictured above has all the elements mentioned previously as well as a few add-ons. Ambient or general light is given through the recessed lights; task lighting is given through the undercabinet lighting along the workspace and accent lighting is given in a few layers. First, the pendants hanging above the island. Second, through the use of above-cabinet lighting highlighting the tile carried up the wall. And third, through the puck lights in the glass upper cabinets. Combined together this kitchen is well-lit and doesn't feel dark, even with the darker finishes.
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