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Smart Design With Suzette: Lighting Tips – Part One

on August 18, 2018 - 5:53am

An example of kitchen lighting. Courtesy image

An example of pendant lighting. Courtesy image

By SUZETTE FOX
Los Alamos

No matter the size of a space, how you light it can make all the difference in its function. There are two rules of thumb: Have a mix of light sources at different levels to create a flattering ambience; and have appropriate task lighting for whatever you do in that space (reading, sautéing, getting dressed.) In all rooms maximize natural daylight with windows and skylights whenever possible.

What is a Lumen? What’s the Difference Between it and a Watt?
Lighting—it’s all about lumens. But what are lumens, exactly? Lumens are now THE way to find out how bright a lighted bulb or integrated LED lighting fixture is. And if you want a fixture with bright, luminous personality, it’s the key to choosing the perfect piece for your lighting scheme.

What is a Lumen? What’s the Difference Between it and a Watt?
Lighting—it’s all about lumens. But what are lumens, exactly? Lumens are now THE way to find out how bright a lighted bulb or integrated LED lighting fixture is. And if you want a fixture with bright, luminous personality, it’s the key to choosing the perfect piece for your lighting scheme.

Lumens = Brightness
And watts do not. Watts measure energy use, not light output. With new, energy-efficient LED technology, we can no longer rely upon wattage to indicate how bright a bulb is. See how to measure lumens in the table.

Use the table to determine exactly how many lumens are in a watt and vice versa. This should provide you with a good understanding of how bright 120 lumens is vs. a fixture with 5000 lumens.

Living Rooms / Family Rooms
The concept of layering light is particularly important in the living/family room, an area of the house where people tend to gather for long stretches of time and engage in an array of activities, including conversation, watching TV, reading, playing board games and using a laptop.
Generally speaking, light three of the four corners, focusing one of those lights on an object (art, a plant, a striking chair). Use a combination of table lamps and floor lamps. Allow for reading in as many seats as possible with down-glowing lamps on three-way switches. If you have an overhead fixture, put it on a dimmer.
Lumens: Ambient lighting for a living room should be 1,500-3,000 lumens. Task lighting for reading should be a minimum of 400 lumens.

Kitchens
With its heavy focus on the functions of food preparation and cleanup, as well as its tendency to be a gathering spot, the kitchen requires careful consideration of task and ambient lighting. Think in particular of the task lighting for the counters, where most of the work takes place, and over the sink.

One of the main reasons sinks have often been located at a window is to take advantage of natural light, and this layout is still highly recommended by lighting experts. Augment the natural light with a ceiling mounted or recessed fixture above the sink. Using under-cabinet lighting is a good way to illuminate the countertop work surfaces without relying on an overhead light that will cast shadows on the person working at the counters.

Pendants are an excellent source of lighting over kitchen islands. They also give you the opportunity to provide a sense of your personal style in the kitchen.
Lumens: Ambient kitchen lighting should be 5,000-10,000 lumens, with task lighting at counters, sink and range a minimum of 450 lumens in each area.

Dining Rooms
The primary focus of dining room lighting is the table, and fixtures placed directly above the table may provide both ambient and task lighting for this room. Dimmers are particularly desirable as they provide flexibility in establishing a relaxing atmosphere when entertaining.

Elsewhere in the room, indirect lighting is best—it’s relaxing and flattering. Give the space a subtle glow with a pair of small table lamps on a sideboard or matching sconces on the wall above.

Lumens: Ambient and task lighting combined in a dining room should be 3,000-6,000 lumens.

Bathrooms
With its emphasis on personal grooming that requires viewing oneself in a mirror, the best choice is sidelights, such as a pair of sconces flanking the mirror. An overhead light helps fill in any shadows on your face and also fully illuminates the room (important when cleaning). Also important is a light directly over the shower.

In small baths, where one may have to choose between a wall-mounted fixture on the side of the mirror or an overhead fixture, lighting designers say to always go with the wall-mounted placement.

Lumens: Ambient lighting in a bathroom should be 4,000-8,000 lumens, with task lighting at the mirror a minimum of 1,700 lumens.

I hope this article provided general guidelines for you. Each home is different and has different needs. Part Two of this article will include lighting for the bedroom, home office, entry, hallways, stairs and outdoors. Until then…

Suzette Fox is a local interior designer and real estate broker. Visit her website www.suzettefoxinteriors.com Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/suzettefoxinteriors/ and on Facebook at facebook.com/SuzetteFoxInteriorDesign


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