5 Ways to Lighting Decorate your Home

Flood lights are good ambient lights that also provide security measures. Many flood lights come with motion sensors, so they only come on if motion is detected. But if you're having a party and don't want a burst of bright light in the middle of the festivities, make sure to install ones that can be switched off as needed.

Accent lights can be used to highlight particular features in your yard. Smaller trees are great showpieces in a spotlight, and larger trees can reflect light back into the yard. Flowerbeds benefit from ground lighting that adds drama and beauty to your yard scene. And if you get the itch to do a little gardening at night, ground lights can also provide good task lighting.

If you have a deck with built-in seating, downlights add the feeling of candlelight for an intimate scenario. You don't want to over-light, so a good rule of thumb is to come up with a lighting scheme that mimics moonlight. You can choose from a variety of solar lights which are charged by sunlight, or low-voltage lights that connect to the electricity in your house. Solar lights are typically less expensive, but they also don't give off as much light. Low-voltage lights are more expensive and require additional equipment, but they offer considerably more light.

2: Natural light

When asked to describe their most coveted space, many homeowners are quick to toss out adjectives like light and airy. Natural light is highly desirable light in a home, simply because it makes everything look appealing. Lighting schemes relying on natural light are called daylighting, and builders and architects are getting more requests than ever before to implement it in new construction. Perhaps it's because we spend many of our busy hours sitting at a desk indoors, but we didn't evolve that way. Daylighting keeps us in touch with the outdoors and time of day, and studies have found that people who work in natural light are more productive .
There are other benefits to natural light as well, such as a savings on electricity if you don't have to turn on lights. But making the best use of natural light is more detailed than throwing open your curtains and embracing the sun's rays. Glare can be an issue if the sun shines directly, or even indirectly, into the room. Heat also needs to be managed, which is usually best accomplished with curtains or shades. Painting a room a light, reflective color can help amp up the natural light, and the best ceiling color to complement the light is the whitest white you can find.

3: Task Lighting

Task lighting provides the primary light in a room, and is ideally six to 10 times brighter than the ambient light. It's used to increase illumination above ambient levels at workspaces, and carefully chosen task lighting can minimize the need for overhead lights, which is helpful in conserving energy. The term "task lighting" has noticeably popped up in the vernacular since home renovations have become all the rage. Task lighting for our ancestors often consisted of a bright lone bulb in a utilitarian desk lamp, but now the options are endless. It's a key element in the kitchen and office, where specific tasks requiring proper light are prevent. It's also useful in the living room for projects, or in the bedroom for reading, and helps to avoid eye strain. There are many different kinds of lights that perform the job of a task light. Under-cabinet down lights are helpful for kitchen tasks, because typically, your shadow gets in the way of the ambient light source. Desk lamps or floor lamps trained on a desk are useful in the office, and table lamps with high watt bulbs work well in the living room and bedroom. Halogen lights are ideal for task lighting because they're energy efficient and produce a clean, clear light that renders accurate colors. The downside is that they tend to burn hot, so computing for hours under a halogen bulb could produce a sweat bead or two.

4: Accent Lights

Accent lights are directional lights whose main purpose is to provide visual separation in a room. They're secondary lights in a room, and as a rule of thumb, they should be be three to five times brighter than the ambient light level . Wall-mounted fixtures, such as sconces, are a good example of accent lights, as are table and floor lamps. For example, a chandelier in your dining room would provide ambient light, and one or more wall sconces would be the accent lights. Another use of accent lighting is to showcase a feature in a room, such as a painting or a collection. You've probably seen this in art museums.
The ambient light is usually dim, which invokes peace and quiet, and the accent lights highlight the paintings, keeping you focused on the art. You can do this in your home as well, and it doesn't have to be fine art. If you have a big, beautiful plant you want to highlight, you can put a spotlight on the floor behind it and let the light bounce off its leaves, creating shadows and drama. Typically, a spotlight or floodlight is used to accent an object, though tracklights also work in certain applications. Higher wattage incandescent bulbs are often used in table lamps and wall lights for accent lighting, and halogen lamps are primarily used in spotlights.

5: Ambient Lighting

The purpose of ambient light is to create a diffused, even light level in a room, and it's the first place to start when creating a lighting scheme. Ambient light can also refer to a lighting scheme as a whole, but for our purposes, we'll be talking about ambient light sources. The source usually comes from lights on the ceiling, though sometimes table or floor lamps can do the trick. Overhead light sources can be a lone bright light, such as a ceiling or pendant light, or multiple lights, such as track lighting or recessed cans. These smaller lights all work together to create the main light source, but the difference is that they can be aimed at different areas of the room to get into all of the nooks and crannies.
Most overhead lights use incandescent bulbs, which are inexpensive and come in a variety of wattages. Compact fluorescent bulbs also have come on the scene as "green" alternatives that cost a little more but last considerably longer than their incandescent counterparts. They also have the benefit of being recyclable, whereas regular light bulbs are not. The downside is that fluorescent lights have a reputation for casting unattractive light, but manufacturers are continually working to improve this. No matter what bulb you use, overhead lighting is practical but it can be garish, so ambient light sources need to be complemented with other kinds of lights to provide contrast. In the next section, we'll talk about accent lighting.


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