My love of films is always in the background of my planning for any design project…Movies have a way of transporting you. I think that design has a way of doing that too. It can uplift your mood or you can walk through that front door at the end of the day and feel welcomed in – leaving the outside world behind you for a time. If you think of movies you have seen that had great homes in them – you might notice that some of them are filled with bright, sunny spaces. Most-likely the effect was created with lighting – even the streaming sunlight coming in through the window. To me, designing is about setting the stage for the lives of those that are living in a home. That is why the magic of movies plays into my designs through the use of lighting. In your own home, using lighting to your advantage creatively can give a tired room a boost or by controlling the levels of light – can create various moods in any space.
I know from experience that a design does not truly come to life until the room is lit properly. You can spend a great deal of time picking out paint colors, fabrics, furniture and room details – but the lighting is what will make the room be what it deserves to be. Even if you are not doing redesign changes to your rooms – simply changing out light fixtures to new, more updated options – can give a new look instantly or even by adding lamps to certain areas can also do the trick.
You can see it for yourself when you go into certain stores. Some stores might have harsh fluorescent fixtures overhead that are not flattering to rooms or people. Then, other stores have warm, inviting lighting that make you feel more relaxed and showcase their products in the best possible way. This is done on purpose. You can feel the difference and also see the difference when you walk in. The same can be said about your own home.
From the beginning, as I’m planning a space, I am thinking about lighting and how layers of light will play into a room when it’s done. I also take into account how that room will be used by the family that lives there. So as you walk around your home now – look at how lighting either works great in a space or where lighting could truly benefit you and your environment in more ways. A darkened hallway could get a new halogen track fixture to not only illuminate the space better – but also showcase art work on your walls. A pendant light could be installed over the kitchen sink to give you more focused light to replace a dated fixture. Under-cabinet lights could be installed to wash your countertop surfaces with useful light. You get the idea. These changes do not have to break the bank – especially if you are simply replacing fixtures where there is already electrical involved. The end result will make the room look dramatically different.
In my own home, in the kitchen for example, I’m always using dimmers to control levels of light. Sometimes I need good, overall lighting for food prep or school projects with the kids, but then other times I want mood lighting that is softer for entertaining or enjoying a good meal. Having overhead lights layered with in-cabinet lights, under-cabinent lights, decorative pendant lights – serves to make my space more user-friendly. At the same time, it also allows me to bring a certain level of brightness on a day when it’s dark outside or when I’m entertaining and I want to create a certain mood. Think about going to someone’s house for a holiday party and everyone is gathered in the kitchen – as they always are. There is nothing worse than standing in that room filled with harsh, overly bright light. Then think about homes you have been into where lighting worked well. It speaks for itself.
People always ask me “Aside from paint, what is a quick change I can do in my space that is not going to be too expensive?” Change the lighting.
You can see in the rooms shown here – that lighting does highlight the good things about the space and make you feel at home. A way of bringing movie magic into your own environment.
Here is something for you to ponder… When you have candlelight on your dinner table for a special meal – the dining room looks different and it feels different because that lighting is easy on the eyes. The softer light is not harsh on people’s faces; which is nice. At the same time, it has a way of lessening the details of the room that may need some improvement – paint that may be chipping, windows that need washing, cabinets that are worn, floors that are scratched up or appliances that need updating. The lighting actually takes away from us noticing some of things that we are not so happy about in our rooms and we can be more focused on the great meal, task or whatever we are doing at that time. Obviously we are not going to live by candlelight all the time, but hopefully you understand where I’m going with this.
As a dad, I also realize how lighting can be a great way to bring the energy level down at the end of the day in whatever room you are in with your family. You can take a room from being an energetic, functional space – where playtime and projects are happening – down to a soothing, relaxing environment within seconds (at least the lighting will set the stage for that to happen, but the kids may be a different story). I imagine I’ll talk more about lighting and how to use it to your advantage in the months ahead, but certainly it is worth it for you to start thinking about it in terms of your home now. Let there be light.
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for more creative inspiration focused on the family home.