The Bright & the Beautiful

Lighting >

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Many homeowners who care about the esthetic appeal of their abodes fuss about furniture, focus on flooring, cabinetry and countertops and fine-tune the paint colors and décor. But none of these elements would even catch the eye without proper luminance.

Which suggests an underlying problem: we take our artificial lighting for granted and overlook its power to bring our interiors to life, say the pros. And that’s a missed opportunity, because choosing the right fixtures, lamps and bulbs can completely transform a room.

“Lighting is frequently the first budget to get cut and the last item to be decided in a home. Since lighting fixtures are only actively engaged when you need to change a bulb, it’s easy to overlook or not understand the role they play in your home,” says Ryan Bursky, director of product development/COO for New York City-based “The right lighting choices, however, can turn a dark, sterile, cold space into a warm, inviting atmosphere, enhancing the quality of your life and mood.”

What’s more, lighting can be the connecting link between your furniture and the volume of the space, according to Phillip Nimmo, a high-end interior and product designer in West Hollywood, Calif. “Light fixtures often humanize the space and add a sculptural element to the room.

Lighting can even carry a room and make an artistic statement,” Nimmo says. He cites his carved and gilded Soma table lamp as an example of a fixture that, with its organic, freeform shape, can create a sculptural centerpiece in a room.

Here are 5 ways to make a room or area more illuminated and attractive with lighting hardware:

1. Install a show-stopping chandelier in your foyer, above your stairway, or in another high-ceilinged and highly visible space. “Opt for a fixture with a bright finish and plenty of light sockets to create a focal point that can center your space,” suggests Sara Malek Barney, founder/designer with BANDD Design in Austin, Texas. “And use an antique filament light bulb and a dimmer switch for both style and mood.”

2. Add a decorative and functional floor lamp to your living room. This can serve as both handsome décor and a practical source of illumination. “Living rooms area generally large and need a bit of extra light to create a welcoming space. So why not add a floor lamp behind an accent chair to create a reading nook,” says Ashley Rose Marino, owner/principal decorator with Dallas-headquartered Ashley Marino Designs, who recommends a fixture with multiple sockets to aim light in various directions.

3. Try table lamps in your family or TV room. “Homeowners who constantly keep their overhead lights on at night can make it hard to socialize or watch TV. But adding a table lamp with a warm 60-watt equivalent light bulb can counter-balance the blue light from all the screens we watch and create a sense of coziness,” Barney says.

4. Opt for layers of light. A room shouldn’t have to rely on a single lighting source or type of fixture. Instead, try implementing several. “Recessed lighting can be the workhorse that provides general illumination to the room. Your decorative fixtures like chandeliers, pendants, and flush mounts can be lighting focal points that add character and interest to the space,” Bursky says. “And accent lights, such as lamps, under-cabinet lighting and picture lighting, can be layered in to create additional focal points and provide more flattering and soothing ambient light.”

5. Match bulb color temperatures. “No matter how beautiful the fixture or perfectly layered the lights, if the color temperatures don’t match, it will affect the way colors appear and add an uneasy feeling to the room,” says Bursky, who suggests neutral white (3000K) LED or incandescent bulbs. Marino says this color temp is ideal for bedrooms and living/dining rooms, but you may want 5000K or higher for bathrooms, closets and other areas that require brighter task lighting.

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