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Lighting to Highlight Your Home

Let's talk lighting. In any room, the type of lighting you choose will create a certain atmosphere and mood. This article provides general guidelines for lighting schemes and offers creative ideas for every room in your house.

Lighting Basics

Attractive, well-lit rooms most often combine four types of lighting:

  • Ambient or general lighting provides a safe and comfortable level of light.
  • Task lighting supplies the intense directed light needed for detailed work.
  • Accent lighting spotlights interesting features in your home's d√©cor.
  • Natural lighting includes sunlight, candlelight and firelight. The quality of natural light changes depending on the time of day, weather, season and location of the room.
    • A north facing room receives less direct sunlight than a south facing room.
    • A west facing room receives strong, warm light in the evening, casting an orange tint.
    • An east facing room receives strong, bright light in the morning, casting a white glow.

If your current lighting scheme employs only ambient lighting, you're missing a tremendous opportunity to add interest and vitality to your décor. Add task and accent lighting to change your ordinary room into one of distinction.

Lighting and Décor

When deciding on the lighting for a room, consider these questions: What kind of mood should the lighting create? What different activities take place in the room? What decorative elements do you want to attract attention to?

In general, to create an inviting atmosphere, use three to five light sources in every room.

To simplify your decorating decisions, there are lighting collections available with the same finish and style for pendants, chandeliers, and wall-mounted sconces, as well as floor and table lamps. Using fixtures from the same collection within a single room creates a unified look.

To make rooms interesting, vary the height of the light sources in the room. The differing heights add depth and interest by creating separate areas of light and shade.

Because dark colors absorb light, you'll need to use more lighting in rooms decorated with dark colors than rooms with light colors.

In most rooms, you should allow for varying intensities of light. Add dimmer switches or use three-way bulbs in lamps for flexibility. Also, alternate switching patterns between general lighting, task lighting and accent lighting.

Lighting Fixtures

Lighting fixtures don't have to blend into the background. More than ever before, they have become fashion pieces. A wide range of finishes is available - from pewter and fossil stone to French beige and rustic brown.

If you just need something to update your favorite lamp, there are a variety of shades and decorative finials available. New shades or finials can change the whole look of a lighting fixture - and a room.

DIY Lighting

Custom installed lighting can be a very rewarding project. Low-voltage lighting systems are also available. These systems are powered by an electronic transformer, which converts your house voltage of 120 volts down to 12 volts. By reducing the amount of voltage, the system is safe to touch. Consider the three different types of lighting systems that are available:

Rail System. The rail system is bendable. You can curve it and form it to fit any space. It is flexible enough to fit into any nook, hallway, alcove, gallery or kitchen.

Cable System. The cable system is changeable and can be arranged in a traditional or contemporary manner. The lights can be moved around on the cable to suit your needs.

Pendant System. The pendant system hangs from any ceiling. Use it over the dining room table for soft lighting or in your living room for added beauty. Pendant lights can be used individually or in a group.

Lighting is a home improvement DIY job that'll make your new house feel like "home" in no time. But why stop with lighting? Check out all the Lowe's Indoor Improvement articles.

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