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The Role of Lighting in Interior Decorating

Aug 17, 2007
The types of lighting used in a room can dramatically change the way that room looks. Lighting can be a complicated issue, so let's start by defining some lighting terms.

Incandescent lights. These lights give a nice, golden glow to a room. They are much nicer to use than the cheaper looking flourescent lights.

Downlights are round or square cannisters, usually metal, that are recessed into or mounted onto the ceiling. These lights could be used as spotlights, floodlights or for general lighting.

Table lamps can be used as task lighting or for general lighting.

Uplights are normally one-bulb lights that are placed on the floor behind furniture, glass shelving or plants to give them a dramatic accent.

Strip lighting can be used behind shelves and on stairs and platforms for a dramatic result. The platforms lit this way can appear to be floating above the floor.

Track Lighting. A track makes it possible to use one electrical outlet to supply electricity to many lights along the track's length. The track can be surface mounted or recessed. Track lighting is one of the most versatile lighting systems available and can be moved around to accent different areas of a room.

Track lighting and recessed lighting can be set to produce an effect called wall washing which, as it sounds, washes an entire wall with light.

Dimmer switches give the ability to provide a different level of light by turning the knob. Dimmers save electricity and provide mood lighting for special occasions.

Different rooms in the home need different lighting. Halls and stairs should be well lit to prevent accidents. Livingrooms need a mixture of lighting options: background, task lights and accent lighting. The best lighting for kitchens is bright overhead lights and extra under-counter lights for task lighting.

All types of lighting fixtures can be found for whatever your needs may be. They can run from very inexpensive to extremely high cost fixtures.

There are special considerations when using lighting for art or wall hangings.

If you are lighting a single picture or painting, try to place the light so that it does not show a reflection on the glass of the art piece. There are special picture lights made especially for lighting pictures but some of these are not very effective since they can only highlight the top or bottom of the picture. Downlights are a good alternative.

When lighting a group of pictures, it's better to use individual lights in track lighting that can be positioned towards the pictures.

Lighting sculptures can be particularly challenging. You can use uplights, downlights or even strip lights, depending upon the sculpture and its placement. Experiment with different lights and their placement to get the best effect.

Creative use of lighting can really enhance your decorating project. Make use of all of the different types of lighting to make your home a beautiful showcase.
About the Author
Jude Wright is the owner of many house and home related websites. Get her free Home Decorating ebook at DecoratingSimple.com.
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