“When I walk into a lighting store and look at fixtures online, I am literally dazzled by the options. How do I zero in on the best styles for my home?”
Lighting provides an obvious and important function in the home, and we spend a lot of time advising clients on the proper size and placement of fixtures, the best-performing bulbs, and how to combine different types of lights to create a flattering glow while ensuring you can see what you’re doing. But as anyone who has ever marveled at a chandelier like the one above knows, lighting can also be a heck of a lot of fun. Designers frequently refer to pendants, sconces, and lamps as the “jewelry” in a space. Like a statement necklace or pair of glittery earrings, an eye-catching fixture can transform your ensemble. As for which accessories your rooms should “wear,” we’ve pulled together looks to suit a range of tastes.
Bridging the gap between classic and contemporary, transitional fixtures match familiar materials and forms with a streamlined sensibility that works with any decor.
Simple shapes paired with a vintage and/or an industrial vibe — think hand-blown glass and matte metal — are the hallmarks of the popular modern farmhouse look.
Sleek and unexpected are the watchwords when it comes to this sky’s-the-limit style, which encompasses silhouettes ranging from organic to futuristic.
By Sanford Fogg
Photo Courtesy of Hubbardton Forge
Q: What should I consider when selecting fixtures for the exterior of my house?
A: The first step is determining the type of fixture, or fixtures, that best suit your house. This is, of course, a matter of personal taste. A flush-mount fixture works well on porches with low ceilings, while a pendant can be a good match for higher ceilings, depending on wind. Sconces on one or both sides of the door are a classic choice and can be combined with a ceiling fixture if you have a portico. If you have a tight space with no covering overhead, mount a single sconce near the door on the handle side. Whatever style you choose, invest in a quality material, such as copper, brass, or powder-coated forged steel. These metals come in multiple finishes and hold up well in Maine weather.
Choosing exterior fixtures that are too small is a common mistake people make. Lanterns that look large in a crowded showroom often get lost on the broad façade of a house. And when you stand back 50 feet, they appear about half their size. As a general rule, select models that are roughly ¼ to ⅓ the overall height of the door. Before making a purchase, cut cardboard to the size and shape of the light and affix it to your house, then stand on the street and see how it looks. Lamppost fixtures should match those in the entry and be approximately the same size. Garage fixtures are usually a little smaller and can be a different style if they are not visible from the front of the house.
Glare is another issue with a lot of exterior lights. A prime example is the motion-sensor flood lighting many people have on their garages. Instead of helping you see, these fixtures actually blind you! When it’s dark out, a little light goes a long way. One frosted, 40-watt-equivalent LED bulb per fixture is usually just right. To truly minimize glare, and light pollution in your community, opt for a “dark sky” fixture, which has a shade that shields the bulb and directs the beam downward — your neighbors will thank you!
Three essential types of lighting are Ambient, Task and Accent, sometimes called the triple crown of interior illumination.
Good Source of Ambient Light
Ambient Lighting, also called general or overall lighting, provides the light necessary for safe and effective interior illumination, allowing hazard-free navigation of the interior space with minimal shadows. Usually a ceiling fixture meets the requirements of good ambient lighting. To determine a room’s ambient lighting requirement multiply the room’s square footage by 1.5 to get the minimum number of incandescent watts necessary. You can then translate those watts into fluorescent or LED wattage equivalents if you like. Ambient is only the base layer in a well designed lighting plan which also could include wall sconces, floor lamps, recessed lights or picture lights.
Task lighting focuses light on tasks that are performed in a given room. It is a layer of light that should be used in addition to, not in place of, ambient and accent lighting. In most homes, kitchens, laundries and bathrooms require the most task lighting. But the requirement of these three room require different types of task lighting. Kitchens need recessed lighting in the ceiling aligned with the front edge of the lower cabinets in addition to under cabinet lighting and some kind of ceiling fixture and/or pendants. Bathrooms need wall sconces on either side of vanities for optimal light for makeup application and shaving. And laundries need bright ambient light to facilitate separating colors and to provide light for ironing and folding.
Example of Accent Lighting
Accent lighting is used to light art, sculpture or interesting architectural features like stone fireplaces. It is the layer of light that gives a room “texture” and interest and dimension. It lets you focus on the interesting features that are in the room. Some people think that accent light should be up to three times brighter than surrounding ambient light. I do not necessarily agree with this thought. I think accent light should not distract, but rather enhance, the ambiance of the room. Wall sconces, picture lights and directional recessed lights can all be used as accent lighting.
And remember, use dimmers on every light in the house. They cost a little more than switches, but they allow so much greater control over the lighting that they can really make a lighting plan “pop”. Please visit us at www.fogglighting.com, like us on Face Book and call with all your lighting questions and needs. We help people light up their lives!