It seems so simple that we just flip a switch, turn a knob, or pull a cord, and a light comes on. But lighting is really one of the most important aspects to consider in a home. Not only does it light a particular space, but it also has a dramatic effect on our moods, emotions, and even our health.
If you think about it, we need light—whether natural or artificial—for everything: to identify objects, read or do homework, prepare food, take care of housekeeping chores, for personal grooming…the list is endless. And when you add modern technological advances and a focus on energy efficiency, the lighting equation takes on more depth and importance.
The good thing is that once you understand how to make lighting plans, particularly during the new house design and construction phases, as well as the key areas where lighting should not be overlooked, under-utilized or over-utilized, it becomes easier to make the appropriate choices to suit your particular needs, desires and lifestyles.
Straight from Mother Nature
The first step in making a lighting plan is to consider the amount of natural light already present in a room. This could be from a window or skylight which sheds a considerable amount light, depending on the direction it faces, a particular time of day, and the time of year.
A good general practice here is to review the home floor plans then make several initial selections. Once the home is framed, go from room to room and review the plans and selections again. Many times adding can lights or another ceiling fixture gives a room that “Wow!” factor.
By working with Kansas City-based custom home builders or interior designers, you can determine the best shades, blinds, shutters, curtains and other finishes to help maximize the natural light for the most benefit.
Almost as Good as the Original
Once you’ve taken natural lighting into consideration, it’s time to address the what, where, and why to place lighting fixtures, lamps and so forth inside the home. This is where a certified lighting designer comes in handy.
For example, in a hearth room or meditation/relaxation area, you may want to use recessed lighting on a dimmer switch to create a soothing glow, inviting ambiance or peaceful feeling.
Cooking, office/homework, and hobby/tool bench areas are spaces where you want to look at what is called task lighting. This is sometimes a combination of overhead lights and directional lamps that work together to easily illuminate the area and facilitate a clear view of the task at hand. The key is to match the appropriate amount and quality of light to address your needs.
Specific artwork or furniture pieces where you desire to draw particular attention should be highlighted by accent lighting, which could be an eyeball can light or directional lighting. The goal is to draw the eye to the entity you wish to highlight, and possibly evoke a specific mood or sentiment while doing so.
Some of today’s interior lighting trends offer a lot more options in different patinas. For example, there’s a new shade of brass which is almost a champagne color. And there are more choices in nickel and chrome. Textures run the gamut as well including beading and wood trim, and unique shapes include spheres shaped like spaceships!
From compact fluorescent to LED, halogen, and other illumination bulbs and methods, lighting technology has dramatically evolved over the last decade, particularly in terms of energy efficiency. And considering that an estimated 25 percent-plus of energy use in a home comes from lighting sources and small appliances, it is of the utmost importance to consider your options.
Custom home builders, designers and lighting technicians all agree that home lighting should be energy efficient, easily controlled, and comfortable so that it effortlessly flows with your environment and lifestyle.
It’s not so much about how much you spend, but how wisely you spend on appropriate lighting. George McMillen, the Outside Builders Sales Manager with Wilson’s Lighting in Overland Park, KS possesses many years of experience in the lighting industry. He agrees that lighting is of the utmost importance for both the interior and exterior of a home.
“Lighting is like jewelry to a home,” he explains. “It adds significant design detail to a home, as well as the homeowner’s personality to a particular space.”
Some of the key considerations homeowners should keep in mind when choosing lighting fixtures, he says, are “matching energy savings with bulb finishes that coordination from room to room.” Size, proportion and task lighting are other important aspects.
“In my work, I find that closets and storage areas are sometimes overlooked completely or under-utilized,” says McMillen. “And lower levels often do not have adequate or correct lighting. This is a huge issue.”
Nevertheless, experts like McMillen can be of great help if a homeowner makes an appointment and brings in their house design plans for a one-on-one personal consultation. That is the best way to carefully consider any ideas and questions they may have, and together choose just the right lighting to fit their particular needs.
For more information about Wilson’s Lighting, check out their website at www.wilsonlighting.com, or call 913.642.1500.
In addition to her role as Co-Owner and Operator of HBC Construction, Chris is also Vice President of the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City.