“Lighting is everything. It creates atmosphere, drama, and intrigue in a room. The easiest way to accomplish this is with a dinner switch. I always use dimmers, even in the powder room”
- Martyn Lawrence Bullard
UK Born / L.A. Based Interior Designer extraordinaire
ELI Table Lamp, Robinson Lighting, Calgary, AB
As a real estate agent, and previously as a destination service consultant (helping expatriate families find corporate rentals), I have seen the interiors of many a home over the past several years. Most homes come and go without much impression, but then there are those that really stand out. I started to ask myself, why did I really notice this interior? What was special about this home? Several factors, but one for sure was the lighting. I decided to learn more about lighting myself, and then to share what I have learned with my readership.
My good friend, Angela McQueen, works for a well-known lighting store here in Calgary. Recently I was able to interview Angela about lighting. Here are 5 important points from that interview session on lighting a home, regardless of whether you are planning on improving your living space or lighting to sell:
1) WHAT ARE SOME KEY/ GENERAL POINTS ABOUT LIGHTING IN TERMS OF
MAKING A ROOM MORE COMFORTABLE, READING AND NOT COSTING TOO MUCH?
Lighting is best layered- meaning you will have task lights paired with ambient lighting, paired with accent lights. This is the most pleasing to the eye and the best to providing a suitable amount of light for rooms. For example - in a kitchen, you may have pot lights (ambient lighting), paired with island pendants (task lighting) paired with under cabinet lighting (accent lighting). By having them on different switches for control, you can use as much or as little as you need for the given task and layer the light as needed.
Dimmers are also a fantastic option for most spaces- you can adjust them to better suit the mood of the space. For instance, above a kitchen island, you can turn the dimmer all the way of for the highest lumen (measure of light) output for tasks such as cooking or cleaning, and you can dim them down when it’s more appropriate, such as getting a glass of water late at night.
Adding Lamps is also a great way to add both a layer of light and some beauty to a space. They can be used for reading, multi purpose, decoration etc. They can add some softer, light, making even the most sterile of spaces seem more inviting. As well, like most things, will come in a variety of price points.
2) HOW CAN SELLERS ENHANCE THE ‘FEELING’ OF THEIR HOME WHEN LISTING A PROPERTY TO SELL? WHAT AR SOME KEY POINTS TO CONSIDER WITHOUT INVESTING TOO MUCH?
Updating changeable items, such as hardware and lighting can be a great way to enhance the feeling of their home. It's amazing how much drastic some simple changes can be! A seller may opt for wanting to add some glamour to their home by adding a crystal chandelier to their dining room, or bedroom, or a more modern feel with a new vanity fixture or some fun with sassy pendants over an island. Lighting has often been described as the jewelry to ones’ home, and with that- it's amazing what the result is with some final touches!
Lighting, like most things is available in a variety of price points, I always suggest people allocated more of their budget to the larger key pieces - a foyer or dining room piece. This is something what's going to be enjoyed and admired by everyone who enters the house. I don't recommend putting budget busting fixtures in placed where they are not appreciated, such as a hallway. In my experience, most people don't look up right away (hence why spending more on a dining room piece which is typically hung at 5-6' from the floor) is not unnoticed...
Other places to have some ' fun' and break the 'rules' is Powder rooms and Island Pendants. I find Powder rooms can be more dramatic and depending on the client, you may be able to get away with something which doesn't emit as much light to enhance the space. Typically, and this will always depend on the occupants of the home, but there is no major grooming going on in the 1/2 bath- it's mostly hand washing, hence why we can get away with a more dramatic light fixture, maybe paired withe some fantastic wall paper, or a beautiful colour of paint to complete the space.
There are many beautiful options available for Pendant lights, which would typically be placed over islands in a set of two or three, also hung at about the 6' mark from the floor. You may fall in love with some that are hand blown glass or a stunning metallic finish. It's a great way to add some impact with either a punch of colour, glamour, industrial vibe or what ever catches you eye, and your heart while out shopping.
By only changing a few key pieces in your home, such as the dining room, island pendants and maybe the main floor 1/2 bath locations, it's possible to enhance the feel or flavour of your home.
3) ANY COMMENTS ON LIGHTING FOR A DINING ROOM?
Dining rooms are important rooms for various reasons, it's where the family connects with each other and friends with good food, cooked from the heart and hopefully paired by nice wine and favourite beverages. A dining room fixture can set the mood for the space, while grounding the room. It's important to look at the rest of the furniture when selecting a fixture, I ask people for colours of the room, what the table & chairs look like (is the set more modern or more traditional? Heavier or lighter?)
In terms of size there are a few tips and tricks I use, if you add the length and the width of the room together (i.e., 10' x 10’) the fixture can be as large as 20" in diameter. If it's an open concept area - you'll need to use the dimensions from where the dining room would start. Another way to size the fixture is to select something 1/2 the width of the table. A common table width is 42" so again, you'd be looking for something approximately 20"-21" in diameter, if would fit the dimensions of the room. Dining room fixtures are typically hung between 5' -5.6" from the floor, or 30" from the table- something to keep in mind if you have a raised table. These are not hard and fast rules, but good ' rules of thumb' to uses as a guide line.
A dimmer is also a great addition to any space, especially dining rooms- you can adjust the light output to better suit the mood of the occasion. They are generally inexpensive and can be changed rather easily with minimal tools.
Finally, don't be afraid to use height! If you have higher ceilings in the dining room, you may opt for a fixture which has the width requirements to beautifully finish the space, however you may come across a fixture with a taller body height.
4) FOCUS ON KITCHEN LIGHTING, WHAT ARE SOME KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR A KITCHEN THAT IS OPEN CONCEPT? WITH AN ISLAND? NOT OPEN CONCEPT? NO ISLAND?
Kitchens are the heart of the home- and such, need to be well lit! For kitchens that are part of open concept homes- Island pendants are a great way to add some flair- as previously mentioned. They can also add an ‘end point’ to an open space- where as they may seem to be adding a busy-ness to a non-open concept space. Be mindful of shadows - nothing is worse than a dark, uninviting kitchen.
5) UNDER CUPBOARD LIGHTING, WHEN AND WHY TO USE?
Under cabinet lighting is always a good idea- and can sometimes be added to a kitchen or space after the fact. It can act as a task light or an accent light. It can be used for both highlighting special dishes or cupboards with glass doors and actual counter top work areas. There are lots of options available, bulb type, installation type, dimmable and not. It can act as a welcoming night light for a kitchen space if you have guest staying over, or family members who perhaps venture to get some water in the wee hours of the night. It can also be used in different applications such as highlighting a tow kick area under the lower cabinets, or as cove lighting in a ceiling to highlight a dining room, master bedroom or foyer.
Thank you for reading and if you have further questions about lighting, please feel free to contact Angela McQueen directly @ Robinson Lighting and Bath - SE Calgary location, in the areas of:
ALA Lighting Specialist
For information on a free evaluation or other real estate related questions, please contact Karen directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org.