Lighting Design

When designing a lighting plan for the living room or dining room, you need to consider the variety of activities that occur there. You'll want to include general lighting for entertaining and watching television, task lighting for reading or sewing, and accent lighting for artwork, plants, and interesting architectural features. Dimming controls are ideal for the living room beacuse they allow you to design the lighting to suit each mood and activity.

Fireplaces made of brick or stone can be emphasized with recessed downlights installed in the ceiling over the mantle to create an intriguing grazing effect across the surface. Wall sconces on each side of the fireplace are an attractive addition that draws attention to the fireplace area, while providing general lighting for the living room.

Reading requires task lighting that comes from behind the reader's shoulder. This can be accomplished by placing a floor lamp either at the right or the left of the reading chair. The bottom of the shade should be located at eye level to avoid glare.

Paintings can be highlighted with low voltage, tungsten-halogen picture lights. These frame-mounted lights spread a beam of bright, white light across the face of the painting.

Bars can be lighted from above with recessed or track fixtures, or with miniature, low voltage pendants that hover intimately over the bar.

Glass shelves and glassware can be accented by two recessed adjustable fixtures. The use of low voltage fixtures with tungsten-halogen bulbs will emit a bright white light ath will make glassware sparkle, white providing added illumination for serving and cleanup.

TV, video games and computers require low level general lighting that does not wash out the screen's image nor reflect into the viewer's eyes. Miniature track lighting can be installed under shelves to provide both general and accent lighting. Choose from accent spots, mini lights, and compact or linear fluorescent light sources.

Designing with Light in the Dining Room

Dining room lighting should be both beautiful and functional. This requires a miz of general, task, and accent lighting that can set themood for a number of functions, including a formal dinner, a family get-together, and other activities such as homework, hobbies, or family book keeping. Dimming controls will enable you to vary the light for each occasion.

A chandelier is the focal point of the dining room. Suspended over the dining table, it serves as a decorative style element that enhances the beauty of your fine furnishings. When the light is dimmed, a soft, glowing atmosphere similar to candlelight is created. If equipped with a downlight, the chandelier provides task lighting for the table and accent lighting for a centerpiece.

Recessed or track lighting provides general lighting, while enabling you to highlight prized possessions throughout the room. A ring of four recessed downlights around the dining table supplements the light from the chandelier, while providing accent lighting for your tableware. The pure white light of low voltage fixtures with tungsten-halogen bulbs will make your crystal and silverware sparkle.

A buffet or sideboard can be flanked with wall sconces on either side. Choose fixtures that complement the style of your chandelier. Displayed objects can be accented with recessed downlights installed in the ceiling above.

A China cabinet, breakfront, hutch, or wall niche can become a showplace for your prized collectibles by installing strips of low voltage mini lights under the shelves.

A family portrait can be dramatically lighted with recessed adjustable accent fixtures. The portrait should be lighted at a 30 degree angle from vertical. For an example: A ceiling that is 8' should have the accent light 2' from the wall. A 10' ceiling should have the accent light 3' from the wall. 

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