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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Lighting Your Home By Carol Carr P roper lighting is essential to the ambience and livability of your home. Effective high-quality lighting completes a room even more than any accessory. It provides utility and comfort while enhancing the mood and creating a sense of drama in our living spaces. When choosing lighting solutions, consider these factors: the size of your room, how you’ll use the room, and the look you want for that space. If the room has dark walls and floors, much of the light will be absorbed. Therefore it will require more light to achieve the same level of illumination that you’d have if the room had light walls and floors that reflected the light. Another consideration is whether the room’s lighting needs to serve different functions. For example, a bedroom that needs overall illumination as well as a lamp to light a writing table or a reading nook. There are three basic types of lighting: • General lighting provides overall illumination. This can be achieved with chandeliers as well as other ceiling, wall- mounted or recessed fixtures. • Task lighting provides more concentrated light suited to activities such as reading, cooking and games. This lighting can be provided by floor lamps, track and recessed lights, pendant lighting and tabletop lamps. • Accent lighting adds drama to your space, such as lighting a painting, sculp- ture or highlighting a design element in the room such as the wall texture or a coffered ceiling. Recessed lights are one of the best ways to accent objects. Accent lighting typically casts more light on the object or area being accented (at least as much as three times more) than the general lighting in the surrounding area. LIGHTING A LIVING ROOM OR FAMILY ROOM Reading If achieved with pendants or portable lamps, the shade should be at eye level when a person is seated, approximately 40” to 42” above the floor. TV, Video Games AND Computers In-home electronics require low- level general lighting that won’t ‘wash out’ screen displays or reflect light into the viewer’s eyes. Bar Recessed lights or other surface- mounted lights work well over a bar. If you have cabinets above the bar, you can use under-mount lighting. LIGHTING A DINING ROOM A chandelier hanging over the middle of the dining table is a delightful choice. The bottom of the chandelier should be 30 inches above the table, no lower. If you choose recessed lighting to light the surface of a square dining table, position four lights aligned with the perimeter of the table, basically one light at each cor- ner. If you have a long rectangular table, center four lights above the length of each side of the table to get full coverage. LIGHTING A KITCHEN Under-cabinet lighting is a good choice when the goal is to light countertop surfaces. In this case, they should be mounted close to the front of the cabinets. Recessed ceiling lights are a good choice for food preparation and cooking tasks. Above a sink, place two recessed lights 18 inches apart, or one light in the center if the area is small. A lighting option popular in today’s kitchens is to hang small pendants above an island or other appropriate area of the kitchen. Use no more than three pendants, no reason except that it’s good design. For a ceiling pendant lamp hung over a dinette table, use a pendant that’s 12 inches narrower than the table diameter. LIGHTING A BEDROOM A ceiling fixture can provide general lighting. As for task lighting, you can have a portable lamp on either side of the bed (use the same height formula as for lamps next to chairs). Another option is to mount wall lamps above the bed (and headboard), each with its own controls. Choose lamps that swivel or have a two-way arm so they can be moved out of the way. You can also use recessed lights above the bed with separate dimmer switches so that if you want to read and your partner wants to sleep, all is well. LIGHTING A BATHROOM If possible, install a light in your shower as well as general overhead lighting. Consider adding a heat lamp if you live in an area with cold winters, and a fan to vent moisture out of the room. Regarding lights around the mirror above your vanity, overhead lights tend to cast shadows on one’s face. Try a framed mirror with a wall sconce on each side of the mirror. For a touch of decadence, consider hanging a chandelier over your bathtub, especially if it’s the show piece of your bathroom. Since 1981, Carol Carr has specialized in making your home comfortable, an extension of your personality and lifestyle. Her design philosophy is “Every room should be usable and comfortable — a balance between visual response and physical comfort. Carol can be reached at 408.779.4189. 98 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016