Using different lighting to create the right ambience

Thursday July 13 2017

While interior décor can all transmute a room, lighting remains one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to enliven a space. PHOTO | FILE

While interior décor can all transmute a room, lighting remains one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to enliven a space. PHOTO | FILE 

By BRIAN OKINDA
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Lighting has evolved beyond its practical purpose of providing illumination to become a significant part of home décor. It can be used to create a particular ambience, highlight a building’s specific features, as well as for security reasons, among other functions.

This trend has seen bulbs change, with the old, incandescent bulb slowly giving way to more subtle, stylish and energy-saving lighting.

The light-emitting diode (LED) has emerged as the most popular bulb, thanks to its energy-saving ability and durability, says Mr James Kahiga, a lighting consultant and designer at Lighting Solutions Kenya Ltd. Besides, lights now come in a wide variety, with innovative designs and attractive fittings.

When choosing the lighting for your house, it is important to consider each room’s specific needs, says  Ms Lilly Mutisya, the project coordinator at Legacy Lights Design and Installation.

In addition to the conventional regular bulbs and tube lights, there are unique solutions and light fittings that enhance different spaces in the home.

While curtains, wall treatments and hangings, furniture and other interior décor can all transmute a room, lighting remains one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to enliven a space. Accurate layering of lighting is vital in enhancing the home’s ambience, and the process involves careful use of task, accent (decorative), and ambient(general)   lighting.

So, when choosing lighting for a room, consider its size, décor and furnishings, what it is mostly used for, the people who use it, and whether it has subdivisions.  It is also important to consider how high the ceilings is and whether the room has any interesting elements or style that should be highlighted.

The best way to address home lighting needs is by drawing up a floorplan of the home and considering the particular tasks and lighting needs of each space.

ROOM REQUIREMENTS

“Consider what lighting each room requires, be it soft lighting for the lounge and dining room or bright, overhead lighting for the kitchen, or warm lighting usually accompanied by bedside reading lamps in the bedroom,” says Ms Mutisya.

The first impression that most guests get of the home is the lobby, so you should strive to make it a good one. Lighting fixtures, décor and fittings in the lobby, which set the mood for the house’s décor, should be warm, attractive and welcoming, and subtle ambient lighting in a chandelier is a good choice.

Usually, lobbies feature paintings, art, photographs and sculptures, so accent lighting can be installed on the walls  on which they are hanging  to highlight them. When choosing a chandelier for the lobby, use the room’s dimensions to estimate the appropriate size chandelier, ensuring it hangs at least seven feet above the floowill obviously affect the light fittings you choose for this space.

Living room

Light layering is particularly important in the living room, where people usually gather for long periods and engage in different activities.

So it is advisable to use lighting that bounces off the ceiling for ambient (general) illumination. Such lighting minimises shadows and hazy impressions caused by using recessed lights alone.

They can be enhanced by integrating valance (lighting from concealed sources) into the room’s planning and also  generously using decorative accent lighting on the walls.

Table lamps with a soft LED or incandescent light bulb can be used in task lighting the living room, with accent lighting also focused on any architectural elements for enhanced ambience.

Basically, recessed lights, wall and ceiling sconces, table lamps and occasionally, floor lamps, among others, form the basis of effective layered lighting in the living room. However, the the bulbs used should not be too white and bright, and dimming switches are a good idea.

Bedroom

The bedroom is another space that calls for light layering. Here, task lighting might be necessary for night reading, so table lamps  will certainly come in handy. Mildly warm pendant/chandelier lighting is also perfect for creating a warm, welcoming ambience.

If you have dressers with mirrors, downlights are ideal when you when to put on make-up or get dressed. However, it is important to ensure that the lighting is not too far from the mirror.

Avoid too much light in the bedroom; use accent lighting and soft downlights against the walls to highlight any decorative elements on them, suggests Mr Kahiga.

Task lighting might not be necessary in children’s bedrooms, but soft nightlight, especially for the little ones, might  be necessary; but try to avoid bulbs that overheat.

“The best illumination for bedrooms is generally warm light, which is more soothing and welcoming,” says Mr Kahiga.

Bathroom

Meanwhile, a bathroom requires different lighting during the day from that at  night. Sufficient natural light to complement the overhead lighting during the day is perfect, and ceiling-mounted or recessed lighting is appropriate for evening or night showers. Task lighting is effective when you have mirrors, which reflect light in the space.

It is not uncommon to see small chandeliers in bathrooms, especially where the master bedroom in en suite. But the lighting in the bathroom should blend with the bedroom’s.

A bathroom with an open view can make use of ambient light. It is also a good idea to light up bathrooms with recessed shower lights with high ingression protection (IP) for protections against water, says  to Mr Kahiga.

Kitchen

The kitchens requires more lighting than all the other rooms and a combination of general and task lighting is necessary. It might require considerably  bright recessed lights on the ceiling as well as underneath cabinets to illuminate the countertops. That’s why it’s important that the woman of the house be the one consulted on how she wants the kitchen lighting done, says Ms Mutisya.

The kitchen requires a careful interplay of task, accent and ambient lighting. Task lighting is essential for the cooking area  while ambient lighting is necessary for lighting up the entire space. The sink and countertops need lots of light and accent lighting is appropriate.

Under-cabinet accent lighting minimises reliance on overhead ceiling or recessed lighting, which sometimes casts shadows on the working surfaces.

A basic lighting plan for a kitchen might consist of a daylight and a central, ceiling-mounted fitting providing ambient light, under-cabinet fittings providing both accent and task lighting for the counters, and a pendant providing task lighting over a particular space.