Planning the lighting for your new home is an important element of design that should not be overlooked. Layering and balance of lighting is in my tool box when designing a space. When I plan out the initial design for model and custom homes, I create a lighting plan in conjunction with the furniture plan.
Often the lighting is what creates the welcoming or dramatic feel of a room. For example, when I begin formulating a space like the sketch below, I will add pot lights in the ceiling for general lighting and space them evenly for balance in the room. Then I will add table lamps for task lighting like reading. The chandelier adds accent lighting which helps to create the drama in the room. The combination of these three lighting techniques generates a layering effect. Have you ever walked into a room and wondered what specifically you loved about the room? Chances are it was the lighting that helped produce that pleasing effect.
Here’s a little basic lighting knowledge on the three types of lighting:
Ambient (General): An overall lighting needed to see and walk around your home safely.
Task: Helps you accomplish tasks such as reading or cooking.
Accent: Adds drama or interest to a room.
Below are tips on how you can you add these three types of lighting to your new home:
Ambient: The ambient or general lighting is typically provided by your builder. General lighting is required by the building code. Overhead lighting in rooms such as bedrooms and family rooms is not required and sometimes is not included in the standard lighting package in your home. You may want to add that to your options list depending on your requirements.
I recommend adding pot lights (also known as recessed lighting) in kitchens, family rooms and hallways. Consider adding them in bedrooms as well, if your budget allows. I always add pot lights in the model homes I design. Planning pot lights at your colour appointment will ensure they will be installed correctly by your builder and be warrantied with your new home. LED pot lights can save on your electrical bill.
In the picture below, four pot lights were added in the ceiling. The three table lamps continued to provide balance in the room as well as task and accent lighting. Notice how the lamps on the end tables produce a pleasing shadow effect.
Task: Some task lighting is provided by your builder such as lights over your bathroom vanity. A more effective use of task lighting, especially in the master bathroom, is two wall sconces placed at eye level and equal distance on either side of the mirror. Lighting the side of your face creates a more pleasing effect suitable for makeup application and shaving.
Other forms of task lighting include under-cabinet kitchen lighting and pendant lighting for over kitchen islands or peninsulas. Note the harmonious effect in the kitchen below with the combination of pot lighting for general lighting, under-cabinet and pendant lighting for task lighting, and the lighting inside the cabinets for accent lighting.
Accent: Sometimes, one light source can be used for multiple purposes. For example, a floor lamp is perfect for reading while sitting on the sofa because it can be positioned accordingly. If a task, like reading, is not being performed, then this same floor lamp can create a soft mood with the shadows it generates on the furniture or artwork.
Obviously, you need lighting to see in your new home, but there's so much more to it than that! Properly planned lighting will give you the mood and atmosphere you’re looking for. Hope these tips help to light up your life!
Jo-Ann Capelaci is president and principal designer of Colours & Concepts. The company specializes in model homes and colour and upgrade selections for builders. They have been helping new home buyers choose finishes for their homes for over 20 years. Jo-Ann is dedicated to helping new home buyers create a model home feeling in their new home. Look for future articles on other topics to assist in decorating and designing your new home.