Lighting and Illumination

Lighting and Illumination  

The basic building blocks of interior design are colour, texture, form and shadow, but in the absence of adequate lighting to illuminate our decorating, we have nothing. Adequate light, both natural and artificial, brings design to life. Homeowners often make the mistake of hanging heavy draperies and window treatments over their windows to embellish them. While it is wonderful to soften the outlines of a square-edged window, and important to control sunlight getting in, especially from a South or West exposure, too often it’s overdone. Let the light and fresh air in! Take down your old draperies and sheers, wash your windows and see what new perspective you can gain! If you’re very lucky and have a fabulous view and great window architecture, don’t cover your windows at all!

If you decide you need privacy or light control, consider a natural weave linen, cotton or silk in light colours made into operable curtains which can be drawn back during the day. If you really need to obscure the view, consider a Silhouette-type blind, which still lets a lot of natural light through, but not an ugly view, if that’s what you have to deal with.

Hunter Douglas Silhouette blind

Artificial lighting in the evening should consist of three different types: ambient, task and focal. Ambient lighting just means overall illumination, usually coming from potlights or a ceiling fixture and is meant to generally illuminate the room, but softly, not harshly. This is where you can get away with compact fluorescent bulbs or lower wattage potlight bulbs, or at least have your ambient lighting on a dimmer switch. Task lighting, on the other hand, should have enough “strength” to actually illuminate what you are doing. It is pointless to have a dim bulb in a reading light or desk light. You may be saving electricity, but you’re not doing your eyes any favour! Spot lighting creates the drama in a room.

Spot lighting adds drama

Findsomething that you really love: artwork, a plant, a display of found items, a sculpture, etc. and focus a small beam of light towards it or from below if it’s a plant. My favourite light for this purpose is the Jansjo worklamo from Ikea. It is a very small, focused LED gooseneck lamp sold as a desk lamp, but works extremely well as a spotlight. At $10 it’s a bargain! It’s also available in a clamp-on version. In this picture, my friends at CDECA GTA West used a whole bunch of them to spotlight our booth at the Hamilton Home Show.

Take into account all these types of lighting and watch your decorating come to life!

Spot lighting silk and artwork at our CDECA GTA West booth
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