Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

CONNIE OLIVER: You can light up your life

The right fixtures and finishes can really brighten up an otherwise drab room

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Fresh paint, accessories and furniture can really transform a room but the right lighting can provide another level of style to your home. Proper layering of light will allow you to accent and highlight specific features in your home. Layering involves the careful use of task, accent and ambient lighting within each room. Each room will have its own lighting needs, which are based on a few key points:

* The activities are performed in each room.

* How much natural light the room has.

* The desired ambience of the room. (romantic, bright etc.)

* Any features or accessories/artwork that need accent lighting. (fireplace, art, feature wall)

This undertaking of lighting a room can be daunting. There are many choices in fixtures and finishes in the lighting realm. For installed lighting you may want to consult a lighting specialist or visit a lighting store for direction and guidance to determine where, how much and what kind of lighting is needed for each room. Once you have a plan you can then determine the styles and finishes that will work in your d©cor. You also want to hire a professional electrician to ensure that the job is done right.

Here are some room-by-room ideas to get you started.

Kitchens usually require a more complex lighting plan because so many tasks are performed in this room. Firstly, use good overhead lighting that will light the entire space for chores such as wiping down cupboards or washing the floor. Recessed lights, like the ones in our feature photograph, are unobtrusive yet provide the necessary general lighting that a kitchen requires.

Task lighting for detail-oriented chores like washing dishes or chopping vegetables will keep the shadows away while performing these daily tasks. Pendant lights over the island or sink, for instance, are both functional and decorative. Our feature kitchen has a unique under cabinet (and in the range hood ) task lighting that, again, is unobtrusive yet effective for both tasks and overall ambience. As well, the under cabinet light highlight the vivid backsplash colour that could otherwise seem too dark.

You can see how the accent lights in our feature room add the finishing touch by lighting upper cabinet doors and also inside cabinet lighting that provides a soft glow to the items behind the frosted glass doors.

In the bedroom, the best light is generally warm light that is flattering and restful. The use of a dimmer switch for the main ceiling lighting is a good idea. Proper reading light is also a must if you read in bed. Consider general lighting for walk-in closets. Accent lights can be used to highlight artwork and even the headboard.

In the bathroom, good lighting is a must around the vanity mirror. This will ensure proper lighting for daily tasks like putting on makeup. Place sconces near face height for the most flattering illumination and the fewest shadows. An overhead light on a dimmer switch is will allow for general lighting as well as subdued lighting for relaxing in the tub.

Dining rooms are one of the easiest rooms to light. Because most of the action happens around the table, a chandelier or pendant light over the dining table will meet the majority of the lighting requirements. A stunning light fixture over the table is money well spent as it will often be a focal point in the homes. A dimmer is a great idea for the dining room as well. You can use lower light for dinner parties or flood the room with light for a casual homework station.

A home office requires plenty of task lighting. An overhead light on a dimmer switch is useful to add brightness to the room when working on cloudy days. Lamps on a desk or worktable are essential to reduce eyestrain. Accent lighting can add a decorative touch to an otherwise utilitarian space.

Lamps and candles

If hard-wiring new light fixtures is not in the budget then lamps and candles can help add the required dimension to most any room. There are tons of stylish options in table and floor lamps so consider them a decorative accessory as well as additional lighting.

Candles and candle holders are also available in many styles, colours and scents. Candles are great for ambient lighting when taking a bath, during a dinner party or to add a soft glow in the evening. When not in use, a stylish candleholder will still add a decorative element to the room. If safety is a concern, purchase no flame candles, which provide similar light to the real thing without the worry.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2013 F5

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