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Better Living Design in Lighting

Better Living Design in Lighting

As we get older our vision starts to become a little fuzzy. Studies indicate up to three times more light is required to see - but it's not as simple as switching to a higher watt bulb. Review these simple tips to learn how to reduce glare and shadows, so you can see more clearly.

Tips for Improving Lighting for Accessibility

Wall light by entry door.

It's not necessary to completely redesign a home's lighting scheme to increase and balance consistency of light throughout a room. Consistent light promotes:

  • Reduced glare - direct glare (as from a light bulb) and reflected glare (from shiny surfaces) are eliminated.
  • Decreased shadows - especially when moving between rooms. A drastic transition from light to dark or dark to light can be extremely challenging for those with reduced vision. 
  • Flexibility - lighting can be added or adjusted when brighter light is needed.
  • Focus - light is directed to the areas that need it most.
  • Security - well lit stairways, handrails, hallways and entryways provide safety and a sense of well being.

Solutions for Accessible Lighting

The following ideas are both useful and stylish in practically any application:

  • Overhead lighting can be provided by a varitey of light bulbs. Upgrade or supplement overhead lighting with additional sources. 
  • Recessed lights can be placed in the exact spots where additional illumination is needed.
  • Track lights provide overhead light and allow light to be focused where it's needed.
  • Under-cabinet lights are a very inconspicuous source of kitchen illumination.
  • Task lights supplement overhead indirect lighting when additional light is needed for hobbies, reading, or other concentrated projects. Lamps are the most logical source of task lighting. Place them on one or both sides of the task. Reduce glare by having the shade below eye level.
  • Wall fixtures, such as sconces, help light stairways and hallways. Side lights by the bathroom mirror reduce shadows.
  • Skylights and tubular lights provide natural light.

Lights Bulbs and Switches

A dimmer switch.

  • Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs are one of the two energy-efficient light bulbs.They save up to 75% in energy costs and last up to 9 years. CFLs are designed to fit standard light sockets.
  • Light emitting diode (LED) bulbs are the most energy-efficient light bulb option. They save up to 80% in energy costs and last up to 20+ years. Designed to fit standard light sockets, LEDs can be used practically anywhere in the home.
  • Incandescent bulbs are the most inexpensive and shorter-lived light bulbs. After 2014, standard incandescent bulbs will no longer be manufactured. Check out energy-saving options to replace your incandescent bulbs.
  • Halogen lights make great task lighting, plus they are energy efficient.
  • Fluorescent bulbs are available in either tubes or compact. Both are efficient and inexpensive to operate.

  • Rocker or toggle switches are easily controlled by those with limited hand strength or dexterity.
  • Dimmer switches with knob or touch sensitive controls allow adjustable light levels. Mount switches 36-48 inches from the floor for easy reach.

Contrast is Key for Accessible Lighting

Cabinet knobs and pulls.

Skylights have already been mentioned, but contrast is an essential concept. Depending on the background or base color, add contrast by using lighter or darker colors on:

  • Cabinet hardware and drawer pulls.
  • Pillows and bathmats.
  • Glasses, dinnerware, kitchen utensils and trash cans.
  • Moulding and doors.