Lighting Your Home

Picture this, your walking through the aisle of your favorite home store and you notice there's all these different kinds of lighting. From various sizes of table lamps, floor lamps, some with soft shades and others with hard ones.  You might say a lamp is a lamp, BUT au contraire my friend, they might seem that way but they have different purposes. Lets shed some light on this subject.   

Think of lighting as an outfit: the ambient light (like a fabric shaded lamp) is the actual clothes you put on your body—without it, you (and your room) would be, well…naked; task lighting (which includes metal-shaded lamps or spotlights) is like your shoes…they can be special and fabulous, but they are also a utility item that gets you where you need to go; and finally, accent/directional lighting (whether sculptural or hard-shaded) is the jewelry and accessories. They highlight what you want to show off in either a subtle or not-so-subtle way.
— Emily Henderson

I think Emily Henderson says it best about lighting. Ambient, task, accent, directional lighting all like to play well together but they highlight a room differently.  So let me explain a little more about what do all of these mean in order to get a better understanding to your lamp shopping. 

Lighting Terms

Let us start with Ambient Light. Ambient lighting is usually termed as general lighting, the main source of lighting within a space. Like for instance, a chandelier, flush mounts, semi-mounts, entry lights. Basically any type of lighting that lights a space in a diffused way creating a warm and soft glow. Soft shade lamps occasionally fall into the category of ambient because it gives off a delicate diffused light throughout the room.  They all serve the purpose of illuminating a whole room but like all good outfits it doesn't just take a shirt to make an outfit, you need pants and other items to complete the look. So stopping at just one source of light is not ideal.

Here's where you want to bring in the other players onto the field. So just like in baseball, a baseball player's outfit isn't finished until he has a hat on. So lets take notice of the other lights, task, accent and directional.

Task lighting can be directional as its used to illuminate a particular area. As it's name says to do a specific task. This can be an arm lamp at a desk or side table.

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When you're adding light to a room you'll want to use more than one type of lighting.  In the picture below, the room has both task and ambient lighting. The light at the desk with the metal shade forces light downward (directional lighting) on that particular space while the shaded floor lamp produces the delicate glow the room needs.

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Don't just put Baby in the corner and call it done.. (ok couldn't resist a little Patrick Swayze) There's rules to lighting if you're bringing a soft shade floor lamp into the space pair it with a hard shade. 

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A good example of using a hard shade floor lamp with a soft shade table lamp.

A good example of using a hard shade floor lamp with a soft shade table lamp.

Accent lighting, also called highlighting which is the smallest of the categories. These lights typically don't bring a good amount of diffused light to a room but tend to serve as an accent piece. It's used to draw attention to a particular object, such as artwork, plants, sculptures, bookcases or to draw the eye up around a room. Recessed lighting and track lighting can be included in this category.  

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Lighting Rules

A few rules to keep in mind when you're buying lamps.

  1. First determine what you're going to be using the light for. Is it for your desk, living room, bedroom?  Will you be using it everyday to see within the space, a specific task or maybe just to accent a piece?
  2. Make sure when you're sitting down on a chair or sofa that the lamp's shade is covering the bulb so that it's not being seen. This goes for on a table too.
  3. The lamp shade should be eye level when sitting or standing if placed on a console table
  4. Pair a hard shade lamp with a soft shade lamp within a space. Hard shade will keep the light contained and not dispersed within the room like a soft shade will. 
  5. Have fun, pair different metals. Don't limit yourself to a black base floor lamp to a black base table lamp. 

Lighting Pairs

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Wayfair #1,Target #2, Wayfair #3, Target #4, West Elm #5, Crate and Barrel #6

Friends, hope this gives you an idea of what to buy as you wonder through the home stores for lamps. Give me a shout if you have any questions.

Working towards a Welcoming Home,

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