Light Up Your Life

Natural light is best, but when it's limited—especially during long winter months—you don't have to settle for a bunch of basic light.

Light Up Your Life

By Teresa Hilgenberg

We need light. It's a fact of life. But we don't have to accept it as a utilitarian necessity without style or form. On the contrary, light ? whether natural or manufactured ? can do more to establish comfort, set a mood or determine a room's function than any other design element.

And that's why you have to start thinking different. Lighting is a design element. It's not just bedside lamps and overhead fixtures in the middle of the room anymore. If you're not sure, think about how you react to changing light levels the next time you're in a room filled with morning light as it transitions first to soft, shadowy afternoon light and then the total darkness of night.

What do you notice? That you react to the changing light. No other visual stimulant has the power to elicit so many emotions. When a room darkens, we feel comfort, fear, energized. When a room brightens, we feel relief, alarm, energized.

First and foremost, your home's lighting plan should be functional, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice form. Look beyond function to aesthetics which. The right light can create or capture a whole range of moods. And, lighting allows you to add a personal touch to every room.

Lighting, Room By Room
No two rooms are alike. Even bedrooms ? say, a master bedroom and a child's room ? are used very differently, and by very different users with varying needs. That's why it's essential that each room has its own lighting plan designed with the user and function in mind.

Following are tips compiled from lightbulb manufacturer Sylvania, retailer IKEA and; use them when designing a lighting plan for various rooms in your log home.

  • Fluorescent undercabinet fixtures reduce shadows in food preparation areas.
  • Recessed or valance lighting works well in the sink area.
  • Strip lights above cabinets provide soft illumination.
  • Suspend decorative pendant lighting over the table, breakfast counters or islands to create visual interest.
  • Place strip lights on either side of a mirror (rather than above it) to improve visibility for shaving, applying make-up and other grooming activities.
  • Choose compact fluorescent bulbs for the vanity area for energy savings, long life and good color.
  • Dim all incandescent and halogen sources to help the eyes adapt in the morning from dark to light.
Dining Room
  • Choose chandeliers at least one foot smaller in diameter than the smallest table dimension.
  • Dim each group of lights separately to create a variety of moods, especially when using candlelight.
  • Use adjustable accent lights to highlight plants, artwork, or special furnishings.
  • Light china cabinets from within using small halogen or miniature fluorescent bulbs.
Living Room
  • Place light sources at various heights within the room (ceiling, table, floor) to add visual interest and human scale.
  • Use translucent shades on table lamps to contribute to the ambient light level.
  • Graze textured walls with halogen downlights or directionals placed close to the wall and aimed downward.
  • Illuminate bookcases and stereo cabinets from within using small-diameter fluorescent or miniature halogen bulbs concealed behind the shelves.
  • Provide reading light by choosing swing-arm or flexible bedside lamps.
  • Illuminate artwork over the headboard with ceiling-mounted fixtures placed close to the wall to avoid direct glare.
  • For closets, choose energy-efficient, long-life fluorescent bulbs that render color accurately.
To read the full story and learn more about lighting options for your home, check out the March 2004 issue of Log Home Design Ideas.