By Charles Richardson
Lighting is perhaps one of the most underrated accents in a house. It is often subtle and unobtrusive, but it creates a general mood and ambiance that walls and furniture cannot. Even when homeowners focus on the lighting, they are often more concerned about the physical lamps and shades, rather than the quality, placement, or intensity of the lighting within the scheme of a room. The following are some tips and ideas about lighting specific rooms in your home that have been gleaned from HGTV.
Lumens: A measure of visible light that is produced from a bulb. Lumens are frequently used to indicate brightness.
The Great Room or Living Room
This is one of the more versatile rooms in any house. It is often used for a variety of activities: watching movies/TV, reading, entertaining guests, relaxing, and more. In a room with such diverse activities, layered lighting works best. A combination of wall sconces, floor lamps, and table lamps gives homeowners the flexibility to create a softer ambiance or a brighter glow, depending on function.
Lumens: Ambient lighting for a living room should be between 1,500-3,000 lumens. Task lighting (reading, writing, sewing) should be a minimum of 400 lumens.
The Dining Room
Depending on the type of dinner or party being thrown, the lighting in the dining room can vary from soft and romantic, to bright and full. Chandeliers (with dimmers) and decorative wall sconces work nicely to help attain a range of pitches and shades. Indirect lighting—in the corners, or focused on pictures or artwork—works well to create a mood or effect.
Lumens: Ambient and task lighting combined in a dining room should be between 3,000-6,000 lumens.
The Master Bedroom
This is quite often a versatile room as well. Besides sleep and romance, it is often used for reading, getting dressed, watching movies, or entertaining kids or the pet dog on Saturday mornings. Layered lighting works well, and can be provided by overhead lights (with dimmer), side-table lamps, architectural lighting, and wall sconces. Closet lights also provide a nice touch in the mornings, and prevent the shock of turning on overhead lighting or table lamps.
Lumens: Ambient lighting in the bedroom should be 2,000-4,000 lumens, with a minimum of 500 lumens for each reading light, and 400 lumens for closet lighting.
The bathroom requires consistently brighter light than most rooms, particularly when shaving, grooming, or applying make-up. Overhead lights are generally not an effective option as they create shadows. Wall sconces on either side of a mirror, or wall lights above the sink, work best. An overhead light in the shower can be a good choice as well, as the shower curtain often discourages light from sconces or other sources.
Lumens: Ambient lighting in a bathroom should be between 4,000-8,000 lumens, with task lighting at the mirror a minimum of 1,700 lumens.
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