Bright Idea: Home Lighting

Don't underestimate the transformative power of good lighting. Learn about ambient, accent and task options.
ambient light provides general lighting

ambient light provides general lighting

Figure B

Lighting Choices

When it comes to lighting, you have the following choices:

  • Ambient light provides general lighting.
  • Accent light throws light on a specific point or object.
  • Task lighting illuminates an area used for specific tasks such as cooking or drawing.

For ambient light in a dining room, you might choose solid crystal chandeliers or a bronze cage over an iron frame with crystal drapings like the one pictured above.


illuminate interior with a chandelier

illuminate interior with a chandelier

Figure C

You could also use a chandelier over your kitchen table. A general rule of thumb holds that you should hang your chandelier so that it is 30" to 36" above the surface of the table.
When choosing lighting for a foyer, keep in mind the length and width of the room. In general, the size of the fixture should be directly related to the size of the room. Measure the length and width of the room, and add the numbers together, rounding to the nearest foot. For example, if the room measures 14' long and 10' wide, add 14 to 10, with a result of 24'. The light fixture should be 24".

Pendant Lights

pendant lights direct light up and down

pendant lights direct light up and down

Figure E

Another ambient lighting option is the pendant, which can direct light down or up, like the one seen here. Formal and informal pendant lights are available at most lighting centers.

Wall Lights

quarter sphere wall lamp is ambient lighting

quarter sphere wall lamp is ambient lighting

Figure G

Common wall lights include shaded lamps, quarter-spheres (as pictured), quarter-sphere sconces, a variety of other unique sconces. To accent pictures, try picture lights directly attached to or immediately behind the frame. Picture lights should be at least three times brighter than standard lights. 

Track lighting works well for task lighting and accent lighting. The lights are simple to install and can be repositioned easily.

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