Bright Ideas

Flip the switch on your home’s landscape with tips from specialists and designers on how to amp it up.

“Home lighting is both object and illumination,” says Ann Davis, owner of Typhoon Lighting in Regent Square. “Light articulates our environment and leads us from space to space. It illuminates our work surfaces and the print on a page — and reveals the beauty of our possessions.” Good lighting design, if used properly, can help homeowners see better; thus, the way it relates to the mood and ambience of the home shouldn’t be overlooked.

“Effective lighting is evenly dispersed around the room at varying heights and levels of brightness,” says Ron Reinheimer, a designer at Weisshouse in Shadyside. “Lighting is a key design element in a space. It will create a more sophisticated look and set a great dramatic mood.”

What’s more, lighting can easily change a room’s atmosphere, adding a sense of warmth and function.

“There’s an unlimited range of lighting styles,” says Davis. “Through shape, color and size, lighting adds a finishing touch to a home’s décor; for example, there are portable lamps, ambient lighting, under-cabinet lighting, accent lighting, chandeliers and, most importantly, eco-friendly lighting.

“On a global scale, 20 percent of the world’s electricity is used for lighting, so the move to more energy-efficient lighting is positive for lots of reasons. With the use of dimmer switches, timers, motion detectors and efficient bulbs, individual electric bills will drop drastically.”

Light Your Home Like a Pro
Ron Reinheimer offers these bright ideas:

■ Make lighting a key design element in your space.
■ Create a more sophisticated look to set a great dramatic mood.
■ Ask yourself these questions before selecting lighting for a room: What mood should this space have? What activities will happen here? What design element should be accented?

“Proper lighting can improve the appearance of any room in your house — especially the living and dining rooms,” says Mary Ann Kelly, president of Platinum Lighting Concepts in Cranberry Township. “It can cast a warm glow for relaxation, or it can be bright enough for reading; lighting makes the home, like jewelry makes the outfit.” And much like layering an outfit can add interest, good lighting always features several layers.

“This can be accomplished with the use of recessed lighting, chandeliers, sconces and track lighting, while task lighting is added to make sure you are able to perform the tasks [associated with] that room,” says Kelly.

Task lighting can be done through the use of recessed or track lighting, under-cabinet lighting, and table and floor lamps; it should be bright enough to avoid eyestrain.

Accent lighting is another option; it brings drama to a room and provides a visual interest, allowing you to focus on something specific — a piece of art, beautiful furniture or plants.

“I always recommend lighting your path throughout the home because it will lead you safely to and from each room,” says Kelly. “There are wireless control products available that can turn the lights on from your vehicle, much like a garage door-opener — so you never need to enter a dark house. I also use dimming in most rooms [to] control the amount of light based on needs and the time of the day.”

Light Your Home Like a Pro
Mary Ann Kelly offers these bright ideas:

■ Make sure you have enough lighting. No one can ever have too much.
■ Consider everything in the room before selecting a light fixture — including paint color, wood type, flooring and furniture. Your choice of lighting can make or break the room.
■ Consult a lighting professional and visit a showroom. You may do a lighting project a couple of times in your lifetime, an expert does it every day.

“Light has a strictly aesthetic function,” says Davis. “It creates mood, mystery and sparkle in our world.” The choice of fixtures sets the decorative tone of the home, and creates the link between the style of the furnishings and the space within each room.

“There’s an unlimited range of styles, and the best way to approach designing with light is through the concept of layering,” says Davis. “Adding layers of light [via] multiple sources enables you to provide lighting levels for a wide range of activities. Sconces are important and add a soft layer to a bathroom, and can enhance the style of any room — making sure the shape, color and style coincide with your furniture and the design of the entire house.”

Light Your Home Like a Pro
Elaine McCue and Matt Cardello offer these bright ideas:

■ Recessed lighting can function as one layer, while chandeliers and wall sconces can double as accent lighting when used with dimmers.
■ Always have your room dimensions, including your ceiling height, with you when shopping for lighting. If it’s a remodel, bring your plans or blueprint.
■ Learn about energy-saving light sources, such as LED and CFLs, and how they can be used throughout the home.

“Decorative porch and patio lighting can make a big impact,” says Megan Murphy of Hearth & Home Furnishings. From gas fire pits and Tempest Torches to tabletop fire pots that use gel-based fuel (and are similar to a candle, says Murphy), outdoor lighting can highlight features of the landscape.

Light Your Home Like a Pro
Megan Murphy offers these bright ideas:

■ Light your deck or patio with a gel-fueled fire pot to provide a glow and warmth to your outdoor area.
■ Firepots have a spiral flame that is much brighter than a candle. The fuel is a gel-based alcohol in a metal can. One can burn approximately two to three hours and be capped off for future use.
■ Consider taking the great outdoors inside: The Tempest Torch can be used indoors.

Going green is a good idea — and there’s no better place to start than the hub of your home.

“You can light your entire kitchen with less than 100 watts of energy using LED-recessed down lights, under-cabinet LED tape lights and pendant fixtures with LED bulbs that have improved color rendering,” says Matt Cardello, president of Cardello Lighting on the North Shore. “Deciding to [use] LED lighting is initially higher, but energy savings are as much as 75 percent.”

Multiple light sources help balance a room by minimizing glare while also accenting architectural features and adding dimension.

“Decorative lighting can be a beautiful work of art or a simple style in glass or fabric,” adds Elaine McCue of Cardello Lighting. “As we age, less light reaches our retinas, so we need more bright light without glare or shadows.”

With many choices in glass, fabric and finishes, decorative lighting can add to the style of your room — from casual to formal or classic decor. Table lamps, floor lamps and torches can be switched out easily for quick updates.

“You can have settings for your rooms by dimming ambient lights and focusing on accent lighting to create a relaxing mood or dim a chandelier and use up lighting to create a party atmosphere,” says Cardello.

Categories: HOME + Design