If you’re scratching your head over why the decor in some of the spaces in your home leaves you feeling slightly underwhelmed, a remedy — or at least an improvement — may be just a few moves away. Interior designers are often called upon to give input about lighting in residential environments. Whether it’s a bland room or a paint colour you’re not quite sure about, there are the tweaks that can help turn your questionable decorating decisions into resounding wins. Below is a list of 6 common lighting mistakes to avoid, and how to do it right.
Mistake 1. Forgetting task lights in the kitchen. There are many better ways to light the counter, and one of them is to use fluorescent, xenon or LED task lights under the upper cabinets. If your kitchen design lacks upper cabinets over some work surfaces, don’t worry. This is a situation where wall-mounted or ceiling recessed adjustable fixtures with the right lamp make all the difference.
Mistake 2. Using downlights over the vanity without adding lights on the side. In the bathroom, using a downlight over the sink is fine to accent the expensive polished nickel faucet you’ve specified, but it’s insufficient for tasks like shaving, tweezing, and applying makeup. For this, we need light at the sides of the mirror at eye level to minimize shadows and provide even distribution. This can be achieved with sconces flanking the mirror.
Mistake 3. Using incandescent or halogen sources without dimming. While we are all finding ways to retrofit lighting with more efficient, longer lived light sources than incandescent, it is still a viable and important part of lighting in a residence, provided it is dimmable. By dimming, we decrease energy and heat output, and we lengthen lamp life.
Mistake 4. Neglecting to control different types of light separately. For maximum efficiency and flexibility, each type of light should be controlled separately, and any incandescent or halogen light, or dimmable LED's should be dimmed. Controlling the lighting yields energy savings combined with the right amount and type of light for different times and uses.
Mistake 5. Putting recessed downlights in a high ceiling for ambient light. This results in a lot of wasted light and a very dark space. Light originating at high ceilings needs to have a very focused, tight beam spread with enough centre beam candle power, such as that from a ceramic metal halide or high wattage halogen source. Better yet, using wall-mounted or pendant sources to reflect light off a light, matte ceiling surface often provides much better illumination than punching a lot of holes for recessed downlights.
Mistake 6. Decorating with light. Decorating with light fixtures, or choosing fixtures based on how they look rather than their light output, often results in a waste of energy and less than optimal light output. For assistance with architectural light fixture choices, consider hiring a professional lighting designer who can transform your space through light, while providing adequate task lighting and often saving energy.