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6 Lighting Mistakes and How-to Avoid Them

One of the pleasures of living in a house or apartment is to have good, strong but not too strong lighting. This is a luxury — bright, constant electrical lighting was uncommon even at the start of the 20th century — that has become a necessity. Still, people make mistakes when it comes to lighting their home.

1. No Layered Lighting

A room that is well lit has three layers of lighting. They are general, or ambient lighting that lights up the whole room. There’s task lighting, usually provided by a lamp, that focuses light on a task a person is doing such as reading or writing. Accent lights pick out parts of the room that the owner wants to emphasize, such as a work of art. A room whose lighting is not layered may be perfectly serviceable but may also be perfectly boring.

2. Not Being Mindful of Shadows

Lighting one part of a room adequately while another part of the room, even a corner, is left in shadows is not a good look. Shadows are more than just gloomy. A misplaced light source can cast shadows on a person’s face when they are looking into the medicine cabinet mirror to shave or apply makeup. A badly placed light can throw shadows over a place on the countertop where food is being prepared, which could actually be hazardous.

3. The Fixture is Too Big or Too Small

The reason that it’s good practice to bring a tape measure to a lighting store is because the pendants and chandeliers seem smaller than they really are in the showroom. This can save the homeowner the embarrassment of installing a fixture, whether it’s a chandelier, a floor lamp, a table lamp or a pendant, in an area where its size is disproportionate to the furniture.

4. The Fixture is Too Low or Too High

A fixture that is too low or too high will not light an area properly and will look out of place as well. The bottom of a pendant light or chandelier should be between 30 to 36 inches above the kitchen or dining table or the kitchen island. This presumes that the ceiling is 8 feet high.

5. No Separate Power Sources or Dimmer Switches

It is true that the lighting in many homes can be fine without dimmer switches, but these switches are unparalleled when it comes to setting a mood. A dimmer switch can change the atmosphere of a party from a rave-up to a fun but quieter evening with friends and family. Of course, soft electric lighting enhanced with strategically placed candles can impress a potential or actual romantic partner. The one caveat is that most LED lights and fluorescents can’t be dimmed because the way they work is different from incandescent lights.

Also, when every single light in a room comes on when a person flips the switch, the effect can be startling. It is also wasteful. Ideally, every light fixture in a room should have its own power source and dimmer switch.

6. Lights That Clash with the Color of the Room

Many people don’t think of the color of the light when they buy lightbulbs. Incandescent lights tend to be yellow, while fluorescent lights tend to be on the blue side. The wrong color light paired with a room painted a certain color can make the paint look a bit sickly. Also, a room with dark painted walls is never going to be cheerful and bright even with a battery of lights.

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