Light is a key element in our everyday lives. It guides us throughout the day, nudging us to wake in the morning and lulling us to sleep at night. Well-appointed task lighting enhances our experience in the work place and adversely, a dimmed lamp can set the mood for a romantic dinner for two. As light has such a wide range of impact on our health and wellbeing, it’s crucial that it is explored and addressed in our home.
Designer Joshua Smith & Photography Peter Murdock
In an ideal world, our homes would be full of natural light — it makes everyone and everything look its best. Houses would be oriented to best take advantage of the sun in both summer and winter months. As this is usually not the case, we can enhance the light that we do receive by making sure all of our windows are clean. This may sound simple, but there can be times where months go by without the windows being touched. As dirt, dust, and grime build up on our windows, we often don’t notice how diluted the natural light becomes.
Make a point to clean the inside of the windows at least once every two months. If you are in an apartment building, request they have regularly scheduled cleanings at least twice throughout the year. If you have drapery or roman shades covering your windows, make a habit of opening them every morning to let the light in. Hanging mirrors on walls opposite of windows will help maximize and disperse the light you do receive throughout the room. The windows in your home are your connection to the outside world; besides beginning your day with a nod to the universe, natural light will help you feel energized and ready to take on the day.
Designer Steven Gambrel & Photography Eric Piasecki
As much as we want light to enter our home to energize our space and ourselves, we need to be sure we can control that light when need be. The most obvious time we do not want light in our homes is early in the morning when we are not yet ready to rise. If you live in a city, you have probably noticed the unnatural light from streetlights, headlights and neon signs leaking in during the night. Whether we realize it or not, these lights can negatively affect our sleep pattern and create a domino effect into our health and wellbeing. Thus, bedrooms are the most crucial area to have blackout shades installed. More often than not, you can have the shades installed within your window frame and they will not interfere with existing window treatments. Blackout shades are crucial when trying to fall asleep as well as getting your zzzz’s in the early morning hours. Designer Joshua Smith & Photography Peter Murdock
In the design world, electrical lighting inside the home is often broken down into three categories: ambient, task, and accent lighting. Ambient lighting illuminates an entire room and usually takes form in overhead recessed lighting or ceiling mounted light fixtures. Floor lamps can also fall into this category as they provide dispersed lighting into a room. Task lighting, on the other hand, is intended to illuminate a specific function, such as kitchen cabinet lighting that illuminates the countertops. Another great example of task lighting would be a table lamp placed next to your favorite reading nook. Any lighting that can be added to a space that will help you find things and function without strain is worth installing (i.e. lights inside drawers, closets, laundry room.)
Accent lighting is most often used for highlighting artwork or sculptures. Be sure your favorite piece of art is properly lit so that you and your guests can enjoy and appreciate it. Before planning the lighting throughout your home, pay attention to how you use each room and the feel you would like to achieve. Lighting is not only functional, but capable of making or breaking the mood in a space. If you want your dining room to mimic romantic restaurants, opt for dimmers to manipulate the ambient light. Layering these three types of light throughout your home will ensure you the functionality you need and the environment you desire.
While we can’t control the sun, we can control the quality and quantity of light in our environment. By giving light the attention it deserves, it can work for us in the most wonderful of ways: enhancing our beauty sleep, making our day to day tasks less complicated, and creating the environments we want and need.