Posted February 26, 2016 by Gabriel Posternak

You're lighting your home wrong - here's how to fix it!

Lighting a room is the real key for setting up its mood and create the atmosphere you want. However, countless times we've seen that light is neglected. People just put some fixtures here and there and the outcome is there for all to see - flat and boring spaces. It's adding more watts to the installation the solution? It might seem at first but soon you'll find that only the bill increased and you failed to get the ambience you were looking for.

Don't make that mistake. In fact, don't make any of the following mistakes and you'll see how there will be (the appropriate) light in all your rooms. 

Depending on just a huge lighting source from the ceiling

You keep adding bulbs to an overhead fixture but you end in a room that looks like an operating room in the center - but that's still dark in the corners! "Don't rely on only one kind of light source. Mix a variety of overhead and floor or table lamps," says designer Alan Tanksley. Add table lamps and candles to create cozy spots and install fixtures at different heights to avoid harsh unflattering shadows.

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Using recessed lighting in the wrong places

This type of lights needs lots of electrical work and might ruin your ceiling's look, leaving it full of awkward holes when they are turned off. And, when turned on, you will feel you are living trapped in an art gallery or a showcase.

But still, they are a perfect fit for closets, mirrors, showers, bathrooms and powder rooms, where a strong light is favorable to take care of makeup, colors and details.

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“Some good, solid recessed lighting is clearly going to help to distinguish this pair of black trousers from that pair of black trousers! You're regularly working with matching colors and textures while getting dressed each morning, so having good lighting is a requirement.” says the designer Scot Meacham Wood for House Beautiful.

Thinking about watts instead of lumens

Having a brighter home does not mean higher energy usage. With the old light bulbs you can roughly calculate how much “light” you will have with a 75w one, but with energy efficient lighting you must look for their lumen value and color temperature, despite their watt usage.

So, whether you want to increase or decrease the brightness of a room, you can follow this simple rule of thumb from US Energy Department.

  • To replace a 100 watt (W) incandescent bulb, look for a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens. If you want something dimmer, go for less lumens; if you prefer brighter light, look for more lumens.
  • Replace a 75W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens
  • Replace a 60W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 800 lumens
  • Replace a 40W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 450 lumens.

And about creating ambience with lighting, think about color temperature before luminance: there are spaces where you might prefer cold natural-like light and other where a warm yellowish cozy hue is better.

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For setting the mood, you can follow the advice from the Energy Star site:

“While most CFLs come in “warm” colors to match the yellowish light of incandescent bulbs, you can also choose “cooler” colors with whiter and bluish hues for reading and task lighting. Color in lighting is measured on the Kelvin scale (K) and is marked on CFL packaging. For warmer color look for 2700–3000K, 3500–4100K gives a bright white light and 5000–6500K is bluer and most like daylight.”

Sticking to a fixed amount of light without dimmers

You can repurpose your living spaces throughout your waking hours just adjusting the amount of light you need at each time with dimmers. You don't need all your lighting power of the living room if you are just reading with a table lamp in a corner, but you still need some to not bump into furniture when you leave. Yes, every room needs variable lighting, even the modern style bathroom -that is the hot trend these days- to create a relaxing spa-like environment.

If you are using energy efficient light bulbs check if they are dimmable or replace them for the right ones.

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Some smart planning can help you fix -or completely avoid- the common errors that keep your home from being the adorable space you want to live in. So, if you’re lighting your home wrong, you can fix it now with our suggestions.

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