A client contacted my lighting consulting firm after living in their brand new home for six months. She was distressed,“there just isn’t enough light. We need MORE lights.” When we visited her home it was apparent that the lighting was poor. But it was not for a lack of lights. Every ceiling was outfitted with recessed cans on a 6’ x 6’ grid – standard contractor design.
Think of a hazy day and this is the right visual for what was happening – lots of very diffused light that defined nothing in particular.
We fixed her lighting problem but NOT with more ceiling lights.
We transformed a visually monotonous environment into one with depth, interest, and plenty of perceived brightness by accenting key finishes and features and revealing the dimensional qualities of the interior architecture.
Light is a finishing material, not a fill material.
What exactly are we lighting?
That is the defining question when considering the illumination of your home. Stop thinking about adding lights, and start thinking about what to illuminate and how.
The Japanese traditionally have designed architecture with a deep appreciation for light, as well as shadow. It is the nature of material, and how each material “receives” light, that determines the best illumination. And then there is form – architectural geometry as well as the arrangement of furnishings. Some forms need more space. Allowing for shadows permits the form to breathe and fulfill its purpose. It may sound unfamiliar to think of illumination in this way, but if we light what matters, what reveals our story, and then allow the light to narrate, our homes become a living expression of ourselves.
Brass, stainless steel, iron, porcelain, enamel, earthenware, granite, marble, red oak, birch, reclaimed barnwood, black walnut, venetian plaster, glass tiling, painted gyp, veneers, fabrics in all weaves, densities, and colors. The list of design materials can go on and on. Each has a particular affinity or aversion to light, and when the character of finished materials guides the design of the lighting, then good things happen. Geometry of the space itself, and then the objects that adorn the space, suggest the way that light can create visual order and appeal to our natural experience of light. As William Morris, the founder of the arts and crafts movement said, “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” That INCLUDES light!
Lighting is a complex design that leverages material, form, color, attitude, and movement to express the dynamics of your personality. A good lighting consultant will see what calls for light, and what doesn’t based on YOU. The overall impact of the parts combined is unique to you and your home environment. The value of your lighting is in understanding how the quantity and quality of illumination can enhance your well being and enjoyment.
Interested in learning more about how lighting can make a difference in your home?