March 23, 2012

Let There Be Light

Designer Patricia Gray explains the right lighting is one of the most important aspects of achieving atmosphere in a home.


One of the most important and most overlooked aspects of achieving atmosphere in a room is to use a variety of properly placed lighting sources. Creating a totality means seizing a particular atmosphere and holding on to it. This atmosphere is what I look for when creating the design for a space and the perfect lighting is one of my tools.

Lighting is a discipline all to itself and often is one of the most important parts of an interior. Bad lighting can ruin a good interior; good lighting can almost salvage a bad one.

For example, lighting in a bathroom and bedroom needs to make you feel refreshed and energetic in the morning, ready to face the challenges of the day ahead, but at night should engender a feeling of relaxation and harmony. In a bathroom, good lighting for putting on make-up should come evenly from either side of the mirror so shadows are not cast on the face. The rest of the room needs to be lit evenly from overhead, but be careful of placing recessed pot lights that are directly over your head when standing in front of a mirror or else you will have shadows under your eyes. I put the lights for the make-up lights and the overhead lights on different switches to further enhance the options to create different mood effects.

I like to use a combination of different light sources all controlled by dimmers. A combination of ambient lighting, mood lighting, task lighting and directional lighting should be used in every room.

Ambient lighting is a general illumination that lights up the whole room. It can be in the form of recessed pot lights, ceiling mounted fixtures, or wall sconces that bounce light off the walls and ceiling.

Directional lighting can be used to highlight a feature wall, artwork, etc., in the form of recessed adjustable pot lights, track lights, and spotlights that are attached to the ceiling, wall, recessed in the floor, or sit on the floor.

Task lighting is directed to a specific area to provide illumination for the performance of a visual task: for instance, placing reading lamps beside a sofa, lamps on a desk, lighting above a work surface or island in a kitchen.

Mood lighting can simply be achieved with the addition of dimmers to any lighting source. In fact it is possible to radically change the entire mood of a room to suit the occasion by simply setting the dimmers at different levels. Fireplaces and candles are important features that add mood to a room.

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