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Bright Lights, Big Ideas

Lighting options to help you make a statement in every room

It is only natural to go above and beyond to create the perfect home for your family. F Whenever you set out to purchase something new for your home, whether it is a dining set or a piece of artwork to hang above the fireplace mantel, you quickly understand just how difficult it is to make the right decision.

But once you do find that perfect picture, and you hang it over the mantel, it doesn’t add anything more to the room if it is not properly lit. Lighting a room properly can be an intimidating task. Do you want track, recessed or pendant lights? What kind of lighting works best in the kitchen? How do you accentuate that prized painting above the fireplace for all to see? We’ll answer these questions, and a few others, as we tour a few common rooms in every house and show you a few options available, so you can light your little piece of the world.

A key ingredient

The kitchen might require the widest range of lighting than any other room in the house.

Jeff Dross, senior product manager at Kichler Lighting, says you should follow a three layer lighting process in the kitchen. “First is the ambient layer, or general lighting,” he explains. “This can be achieved via recessed can lights, which put an even pool of light across the entire room.”

Task lighting is the second layer. This involves lighting your work stations and countertops. Undercabinet lighting is the most common form, allowing you to see when you’re chopping vegetables on the counter and when you’re sauteing those vegetables on the range.

The third layer is accent lighting. While Dross says it may not be necessary, it adds appealing interest to the space. Decorative pendants are a popular and easy choice to highlight the breakfast nook and island. With the wide range of materials and styles, pendants also provide the perfect opportunity for you to introduce a new color or design to the kitchen.

“Accent lighting can be functional too,” Dross adds. “You might not think toe kick lighting is necessary, but you would be surprised by how many homeowners rely on this lighting to serve as the night light in the kitchen.”

Bathed in light

Just like the kitchen, the bathroom also requires a mixture of different lighting techniques, with ambient and task lighting being the most important. Dross says installing a vanity light over the mirror is the first mistake most homeowners make. “The light over the top presents glares and shadows. That light hits your eyebrows and nose first, causing shadows,” he explains. “These shadows make it difficult for women to apply makeup and for men to shave.”

Dross recommends recessed can lights in the ceiling above the vanity and wall lights on each side of the mirror to provide an even amount of light for all tasks.

You might not consider the bathroom to be an ideal place to hang a chandelier, but in a large master bathroom or a room with tall nine-foot ceilings, this light fixture adds a dramatic design touch to the ceiling. Don’t forget to use damp-location recessed lights to brighten an enclosed shower or whirlpool tub.


Lighting experts agree that it is important to take a few risks when it comes to lighting. “A good home is a collection of good lighting,” says Dross. “Think about what makes your home look different, what sets it apart from your neighbors.”

By thinking outside the box, you can use lighting as a way to define your own sense of style. Instead of hanging a traditional chandelier over the table in your formal dining room, consider three matching pendant lights. There are also several linear chandeliers available that will look great hanging above a rectangular dining table.

A powder room can become the perfect spot to install an interesting light fixture, such as a colorful, artistic pendant or an elegant ceiling light. A pair of unique wall sconces or table lamps on each side of the headboard in your bedroom can add a dramatic touch and create enough light to allow you to catch up on a good novel before you turn in for the night. A grand foyer is also the prime location to show off a favorite chandelier to all who enter.

“Lighting is the most important, yet often the most overlooked, part of the house,” Dross says. “If you add layers of light to the architecture of your home, you will effectively define each space and bring dimension, depth and interest to every room.”

Accentuate what’s important

Broadway musicals use a spotlight to highlight the star of the show, and you can use a similar lighting technique to highlight prized possessions in your home. Strategically placed recessed downlights can accentuate virtually anything from a painting hanging above the fireplace, to a family portrait on a living room wall, to even a favorite piece of furniture. You can also install mini-cone lights under shelves in a china cabinet or hutch to show off your favorite collectibles.

Set the mood

If you are hosting an intimate dinner party it makes sense to set the tone with soft, ambient lighting. But on a normal night, when your family sits down for a quick dinner, you might require a brighter atmosphere. This is one of the primary reasons dimmers are becoming commonplace in many homes. Homeowners are looking for ways to create different moods, enhance the decor of a room, and save money.

Rotary, slide, and touch dimmers are the most common
controls, but many homeowners are opting to install integrated lighting systems. These systems connect all of the light fixtures throughout a home. Homeowners can then create several preset lighting settings in one room. With the touch of a button from
a wall-mounted box or a remote control, they can select a predetermined lighting scene.

It’s important to note that by dimming one light 10%, you are cutting your electricity usage by 10%, ultimately lowering your electric bill.


For more information about the light fixtures seen here go to:

Jonathan Adler
Shades of Light
Tracy Glover
Urban Electric Company

To see this article as it appeared in the magazine, please visit our Cincinnati Digital Edition April 2010, pages 75-81.



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