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Let Your Light Shine

The importance of good lighting at your home.

Presented by Chic on the Cheap February 21, 2019

Lumens, Kelvin, CRI, oh my!  Nowadays, lighting is less about screwing a bulb into a table lamp or a chandelier and more about technology.  With fancy drivers and transformers, what is a homeowner to do?!  A good electrician is worth the money you’ll spend but knowing your options and what’s right for your space is critical.  

Good lighting can make or break your interior design. It can highlight or detract from the architectural elements, attractive finishes and good-looking furniture you’ve worked so hard to get right.  Let’s look at a few rooms in your house where good lighting is very important. 

Your living room is such an integral part of your day-to-day life.  It’s where cartoons and sports are watched and the room you and your friends gather for drinks and good conversation.  An even, ambient lighting scheme is key.  My favorite way to achieve this is with recessed LED can lights in the ceiling.  Yes, you can simply add a fan with a light kit, but that gets light in one location and doesn’t spread the light around the room; adding can lights will.  When installing recessed can light, add a dimmer switch so you can be the master of your lighting universe.

Often times, in a condo remodeling project, there is limited or no room above the ceiling to add can lights.  The ceiling is the floor of the unit above and it is a big no-no to make holes in a concrete structural element of a building!  A solution that has come in handy is dropping the ceiling approximately 2” which will allow enough room for an LED fixture that has a remote driver- the unit that powers the fixture.  The driver has traditionally been part of the fixture but newer technologies have allowed it to be located elsewhere, decreasing the height of the housing, hence decreasing the height needed above the ceiling. 

You may balk at the idea of losing height in your living room, and it’s okay to be skeptical, but this is becoming more and more common.  You’ll have to take my word for it now, but maybe you’ll take a second look up the next time you are in a newly remodeled, older condo.  Below is a good example of a beach condo remodel where removing walls gave way to a large expansive ceiling at the same height- 7’-10”.  The new recessed can lights keep the space bright and spacious feeling. 

How sensible is it to put on makeup in a dimly lit bathroom?  It’s not; not at all.  My favorite way to get good light on your face is not with a light on the wall above the mirror, but with lights shining on the side of your face; more specifically, with an LED strip of light integrated into the mirror.  It’s streamlined, it doesn’t put out heat like a incandescent or xenon bulb, and it is something found typical at many higher end-hotels so you feel fancy and who doesn’t want that!?  If you want to take it to the next level, get a makeup mirror that has a continuous beam of light around the perimeter and magnifying function- no stray hair will be missed when plucking those eyebrows! 

The kitchen is the final room we’ll address here.  Diversity is key; different types of light will not only keep your space bright but will create more interest and give depth to your kitchen.  While ambient light is easy to achieve with recessed can lights, task lighting in the form of under cabinet lighting for chopping and mixing is important too.  Adding accent lighting in the way of pendant lights over your island will add a soft glow to the space.

A word of advice, spend a few extra minutes to make sure the color temperature of these different fixtures jive and are in the same ballpark. Color temperature is measured in Kelvin (K), one of the technical terms listed at the start of this blog.  Temperature is generally classified as warm or cool.  Warm temperatures are below the 3,000 kelvin number and give a yellowish or orangeish glow.  This can be suitable for bedrooms to make them feel cozy.  Cool temperatures, above 4,000 kelvin, are crisp and in the bluer family.  This is more appropriate for living rooms and kitchens.  

It can be very jarring to walk into a space where there is a warm yellow overall feel from the overhead lighting and a cool blue light coming from the under cabinet lighting. The contrast can be off-putting, so paying attention to the details will pay off if you do your research.  A comfortable range to aim for is 2700K to 3500K. Outside those limits can get extreme.  There are other factors to consider, like lumens, which measure the brightness of the light, but the temperature detail and adding dimmer switches to all fixtures are the easiest to get right and will make a big difference.   

There are many seasoned design professionals, experienced electricians and knowledgeable salespeople at showrooms to help you navigate the intricate details.  There is a lot to contemplate when thinking of your lighting plan; use your resources people!  When in doubt, ask for help.

Registered Interior Designer Lic # 5736, LEED AP
Chic on the Cheap