Light Up Your Home... And Light Up Your Life!

One improvement to your home that has both an immediate and future benefit is attractive lighting. Whether you're in the process of selling your home or not, appropriate lighting in your home can brighten rooms, accent architectural features and furnishings and leave a favorable impression.

There are several types of lighting, each with a different purpose and effect to consider when updating your lighting scheme. Remember that rooms need different lighting based on your family's activities.

Ambient or general lighting is the overall or background lighting in your home. It is key that it be without glare and evenly dispersed. Pay attention to the colors and textures of walls, ceilings and floors. Light playing off certain colors can vary the effect. As a general rule, reflecting surfaces should not be too dark, ceilings should be a light color, regardless of texture, and walls should be only slightly darker than ceilings.

Local lighting is that light needed for specific tasks such as reading, cooking and sewing. These tasks can cause eye strain, so effective lighting is essential. Accent lighting also can be used to pin-point or bathe a particular area in light.

Since the kitchen often is often the most frequented room in the house, and cooking requires a well lighted area, it should be brighter than most rooms. Kitchens may require both general and local lighting. For general lighting, luminous ceiling light is ideal. Fluorescent light fixtures placed under cabinets supplies bright shadowless light for detailed tasks and is energy efficient.

Another room that needs bright lighting is the bathroom. Fluorescent lights are effective because people need to see well for putting on make-up, shaving and reading medicine bottles. Although overhead lighting may be sufficient for bedrooms, you may prefer several table lamps with switches by the door and on the lamp itself for easy accessibility. You also might want to consider a lamp that is adjustable for reading, perhaps one that can be mounted on a bedside table or on the wall above the bed. A swing-arm, wall mounted lamp is perfect.

Versatile lighting in the family room makes any activity possible. Lamps that hang from the ceiling with adjustable height or pivotal ceiling fixtures are options. A ceiling fan lamp is a great combination of air and light, especially in a commonly used room.

Besides its practical uses, lighting is a popular way of setting the mood in the various rooms of your home.

Torchiers placed around the outside walls of the dining room give the room an elegant look, as light bathes the upper portions of the room. Of course, a chandelier in the dining room can determine the mood for the whole room as well as reflect your personal style.

Artwork can be displayed more prominently with spot lighting using specially designed art lights that attach to the frame of the picture. Decorative corners with knick-knacks or planters also can be brought into sharper focus with spot lighting. Wall sconces work beautifully to make hallways decorative and more interesting.

Since energy efficiency often is a concern, knowing which types of lighting save energy is useful. The most efficient lighting source is fluorescent, using 75 percent less energy and lasting up to ten times longer than other types of lighting. Another tip for saving energy is to use motion sensor lights for areas outside your home such as near the garage or back porch. Lights turn on as you approach, rather than being used for hours at a time. Many people like to leave one or two lights on when they are away from home. Timers can save energy while giving the impression your house is occupied.

There are no absolutes in the decisions regarding lighting in your home. It is a matter of taste as much as anything else, but remember you work hard to make your home it off with appropriate lighting.