Dec 1, 2011

Lighting ideas you can use for a weekend update.

Lighting design is one of the best ways to highlight your interior and add function and aesthetics at the same time.  Accent lighting is an effective layer that can feature unique elements of your home from fireplaces to artwork as well as everything in-between.  It's easy to incorporate energy savings to your accent lighting plan with dimmer switches that allow for precise use, and bulbs including fluorescent and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that offer high quality light with low energy consumption. Here are 5 easy accent tips:

1) Picture lights. Feature a favorite portrait or art with a picture light. It can be battery operated and attached directly to the frame, or wall-mounted, drawing power from a nearby outlet. Hiding the cord is desired so use wire molds for simplicity, place receptacles into the wall behind the art, or long-term, have the lights wired to a switch.

2) Shelf lighting.  Attaching plug-in or battery operated puck lights on shelves, can change the profile of a room. A previously dark wall of books can become a perimeter feature with clip on lights and under shelf-pucks. LED and fluorescent are cooler burning - and therefore safer  - than halogen and they last longer.

In-cabinet & under cabinet lighting.

3) In or under-cabinet lighting. Do you have glass doors in kitchen or bath cabinets? Add LED puck lights to the interior and create a wonderful effect with energy efficiency and long-life. When you turn off all other room lights, they can serve as mood lighting, can be left on as a nightlight, and even be general lighting when you pop in to get a cup of tea. To highlight a decorative back splash, add fluorescent or LED strip lights under cabinets. You can hard-wire them to a switch or plug them in to your existing outlets.  Place them towards the front to illuminate the counter top best. Low profile fixtures don't require light rails to conceal them.

4) Up-lighting.  For drama, place an up light behind a plant or piece of furniture. Highlight a dark corner, the underside of an antique, or throw light on a ceiling feature. These can be free-standing plug in fixtures, or hard-wired rope (as an example) lights. A large armoire positioned in the corner of a room with an up-lighter illuminating from behind creates depth. The light emanating from the rear creates a frame, highlighting the furniture. Have a water feature? Add light from below and and it will take center stage; the reflection of light upon the water is especially theatrical, not to mention romantic

5) Wall sconces. Whether you want to light a dark hallway, flank a fireplace, or add mood light to your dining room, wall sconces are the perfect solution.   The most durable and enduring design will be to install switched lighting BUT you CAN use candle sconces and use real or flameless candles!  A benefit of wall mounted sconces is to make rooms appear taller, and they can be used in low-ceiling rooms when other fixtures won't fit.