Up on the blog this week by popular demand, I am discussing the lighting selection process for your home. Choosing the right lighting for the interior spaces of your home can be daunting. There are recessed fixtures, hanging fixtures, wall fixtures, functional fixtures and decorative fixtures. Not to mention, incandescent, halogen and LED! Light is truly an interior designer’s medium. It is one of the most powerful tools we have to affect how we perceive our interior environment.
As with designing anything, lighting design is not nearly as spontaneous as one would believe. It takes time to enhance our Interiors with light. One of the beauties of interior design is that there is no wrong answer. That being said, to truly get a feel for the importance of light integration, we need to visualize how powerful light is at changing a space. I teach my students in Lighting Techniques the importance of articulating the reasons why we add light to a space. It’s not about lighting air. So, first write down why you need light in certain areas of your home. Do you need reading light, light for chopping vegetables, etc.
A basic way to look at lighting is to think about always having three distinct layers. Ambient Lighting, Accent Lighting and Task Lighting. I go in more depth on these three layers in my previous blog post. Find the Link to this post below.
Now that we have discussed the Layers of Lighting that you will need, it's time to discuss how the light is delivered in your space. There are five primary ways in which light is distributed: Direct, Indirect, Semi direct, Semi indirect, and Diffused.
Distribution occurs when at least 90% of the illumination is downward. Direct lighting casts an illumination from the fixture onto a desired subject or area. Because this is a straightforward radiation, it acts as task lighting that functions to help daily tasks (e.g., reading, cooking, writing, & studying). Recessed fixtures are a perfect example of this type of distribution. You can also get this type of lighting through pendants.
At least 90% of the light is toward the ceiling. Indirect lighting utilizes a fixture as a source to spread light outside just one target object. This is to create ambient lighting, also known as general lighting, which helps you navigate your way around the space. It also accentuates a space or provides a reflective light. Opt for indirect lighting if you are looking to illiminate the space without casting a harsh light beam. Commonly used to create ambiance, indirect lighting adds overall brightness of a space in a softer way than direct lighting allowing you to set the mood.
In this space below, you will see that there is a comprehensive layered lighting scheme. The indirect lighting is the cove lighting that is directing the light towards the ceiling but also adds to the overall illumination of the space.
Most of the illumination is downward and some is upward. About 60 to 90% of the light from the fixture shines towards the working surface or in the space. The remainder of the light is reflected towards the ceiling and the upper portion of the walls. This type of lighting softens shadows and produces an even light. The space below is showing a semi flush mount fixture that has distribution of light up and down.
Most of the illumination is upward and some is downward. About 60 to 90% of the light from the fixture reflects towards the ceiling. Highly reflective ceilings and room finishes are important with this type of lighting. This method of lighting produces a very pleasing ambiance while also providing good reading light. In the space below, the fixture on the left is semi indirect and the one on the right is more semi direct. This is a great flexible fixture!
Light is distributed in all directions. Diffused light is a soft light with neither the intensity nor the glare of direct light. It is scattered and comes from all directions. Thus, it seems to wrap around objects. It is softer and does not cast harsh shadows.
There is so much to know about lighting, it's pretty tough to cover it all in one blog post. However, once you know the location, amount, and style of fixtures you want and need, you can compile your entire lighting scheme. A great way to begin is to create a Pinterest Board of potential fixtures or screen shot images and post in a blank document to see them all together.
Next, analyze how they are working together: Do all of your fixtures seem cohesive? Did you cover the three layers? Are you mixing metals? Did you include a variety of textures (lamp shades for instance)? Is there a pop of color that works with the rest of your interior design concept? You don’t have to match all of your fixtures, but you do want the collection to feel cohesive. There are a lot of amazing options out there, so this can get overwhelming. But if you start by narrowing down your overall aesthetic, it will help!
In another post, I will tackle the controllable aspects of light:
Light Intensity – bright v. dark
Light Color – warm v. cool
Light Texture – directional v. diffuse
Light Shape – pools of light, planes of light, points of light
Light Origin – where is the light coming from
I hope that you enjoyed reading these tips for selecting lighting fixtures in your home in Philadelphia, the main line and the Tri-State area. The biggest take away should be to relax and have fun with it. If you are stuck, please reach out and I will send you a list of sources to check out! In addition, let's get social. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and connect on LinkedIn! Each day I will post follow up thoughts from the latest blog post to give you more inspiration. AND, please leave me a comment below and let me know what you thought of this post!
In addition to being a Philadelphia residential Interior Designer, I also design boutique hotels, fitness centers, office spaces, multi family development projects, other commercial spaces such as office and retail spaces, and the senior living community throughout the tri state area. We work here in Philadelphia, the main line, and even Nationally!
About the Interior Designer
Tina Delia, a native of Ocean County, NJ, current resident of Philadelphia, is the Founder and Principal Interior Designer of Delia Designs. For the past nine years, Tina has been steadfast in her vision and continues to develop herself personally and professionally. She is dedicated to excellence and insistence on forward thinking design. At the forefront of her designs is the idea that our spaces have the ability to transform our lives. She is looking to move us, inspire us to see, think and create freely. After all, it's not only about creating beautiful spaces.