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shopping for Lighting

Experts Offer Tips For Finding Attractive, Functional Home Lighting

With thousands of different types of lighting fixtures on the market, shopping for new lighting can feel like a daunting process. To narrow and refine your lighting search, Cathy Clark, co-owner of Living Lighting in Kitchener, ON, suggests that you articulate your style of decor so you can focus on something that will complement your interior design.

It is also helpful to shop with samples of wood used in cabinetry and flooring, as well as fabrics and colors. That helps a lighting consultant to steer you to the appropriate selections.

When visiting a lighting showroom, also think about your intended lighting’s purpose.

“Ask yourself, ‘what is it that I am doing in these rooms?”” Clark said.

For example, will the lighting be used for tasks, or will it be mostly ambient or decorative? Those questions will ultimately help refine the type of lighting you want. Functional or task lighting is essential in places like kitchens, master bathrooms, entryways and laundry rooms, Clark explained.

Options For Every Room

Food preparation, in particular, demands ample lighting. But many houses, even upscale new ones, lack appropriate under-cabinet lighting. Fortunately, it is one of the easiest light sources to add, and it will significantly reduce shadows and give you light exactly where you need it.

For islands or peninsulas, consider recessed lighting or pendant lights, the latter which blends decoration with function. More opportunities for decorative lighting can be seen in the dining room and foyer.

“People are really looking at them as pieces of art,” explained Clark.

For all rooms, consider using multiple sources and styles of lighting through “layering.” A kitchen might have recessed lighting, under-cabinet lighting and pendant lighting. A bathroom can have powerful vanity lights complemented by dimmable overhead fixtures, toe-lighting or recessed lights. For laundry rooms, consider today’s new economical, full-spectrum fluorescent lamps. The fluorescent fixtures use electronic ballasts that virtually eliminate flickering and allow lights to be turned on instantly – providing plenty of bright, clean lighting to work by.

Bedrooms generally use softer light levels. One source of ambient light in a bedroom is usually sufficient, accented with table and floor lamps.

Today’s Trends

According to Clark, recessed can lighting is still the most popular light source in terms of the sheer number of pieces sold, and is usually installed during new construction or remodeling. Track lighting can achieve the same effect as recessed cans without ripping up the ceiling.

To some, track lighting still conjures up images of the ’70s, shag carpeting and disco balls, but, Clark says, “Track lighting has come a long way. There are some very stylish-looking products out there now.”

One hot new trend is flexible rail, a variation of track lighting that offers the ability to curve the track into different shapes. It’s available in both low voltage and line voltage.

Tips For Choosing All Types Of Lighting

Living Lighting’s experts share additional tips for choosing lights:

  • Know a room’s measurements, including ceiling height, to make sure lighting is properly scaled to a space. There is nothing worse than an undersized chandelier hanging forlornly over a dining table. Blueprints or a scale drawing of a room can help you get the best advice from a lighting consultant.
  • To determine quality, look at the way a fixture’s parts fit together. The color and finish should be consistent among all the components, and glass should fit properly into the holder. Chandeliers in particular, with multiple components, need to be well put together.
  • Today’s wide array of manufacturers means you can get what you want on a budget. “There are lots of trendy styles out there at affordable prices. Lots of manufacturers offer similar looks and varying price points,” says Clark. “It’s important to have a budget in mind and communicate that with your showroom consultant. The places to splurge are visible high-traffic areas like foyers and kitchens. Because lighting is so affordable, compared to most other kinds of interior furnishings, updating lighting is an easy and innovative way to change the look of a space.