Lumens. Lamps. Kelvins. CFLs. LED. How did the world of lighting come to be so complicated when all we used to do is flip a switch?
Like most things in design, lighting is more sophisticated and offers more choices than ever. It is computerized, integrated and vastly more interesting for designers and consumers alike.
It is vital to our homes and our well being, making lighting one of the most important elements in design. Lighting decisions made for a space can influence all future experiences including how colors are perceived, what furniture can be used, and perhaps most importantly, what mood will be created for its occupants.
A good lighting plan sets the stage. It begins with a simple 3-point checklist of the light that is available and the lighting that is needed for the uses of the space. Using one of these is a necessity; using two or all three can layer a room with depth of color and a visual comfort.
Natural sunshine is usually the most desired lighting. Homeowners love to capture the warm feeling that sunlight provides, making it a natural resource for builders. To capitalize on this and maximize its effect, architects can confirm the orientation of main rooms and make sure there is plenty of window space to allow an abundance of sun. Interior designers also can ensure that windows are unobstructed by heavy draperies or large pieces of furniture that would intrude into the sunlit world.
Ambient or general room lighting is the next layer, compensating when natural light is insufficient. There are many attractive overhead fixtures that provide ambient light, such as, chandeliers, pendants or a series of halogen-lighted recessed cans. If an overhead isn’t possible, lamps or wall fixtures with floodlighting for ambient lighting provide good general lighting.
Task or specialty lighting is used to illuminate specific items or specialty areas and leads to some of the most creative lighting designs. For example, a pin light from the ceiling can spot a piece of artwork. Wall washers can highlight a gallery. Under-cabinet halogen lights in the kitchen or on a large bookshelf can counteract cabinet shadows and also provide task lighting at the same time. Cove lighting in a ceiling design provides soft mood lighting.
Style and Scale Matter
The next step of that plan should consider the finishing touches. Too often lighting fixtures are treated as an afterthought when in reality decorative finishes are as integral to the overall design of a room as the sofa style, paint color or cabinet designs.
Two of the top lighting ‘sins’ are using fixtures that are out of date and fixtures that are under-scaled. It is unfortunate to see an attractive, well-built home cheapened by the use of small, dated or unimaginative fixtures whose only redeeming quality is low price.
Be aware of new trends in lighting design such as bold, oversized lights, drum chandeliers, eclectic styling such as incorporating antlers and recycled materials, industrial-influenced styles, large oblong or oval pendants, pieces that are jeweled and brightly colored. These are just a few of the today’s new design options.
While the level of lighting and look of fixtures are important to design, so are the color and quality of the light cast by these fixtures. For generations, we have been accustomed to the warm glow of the incandescent bulb emitting color in the range of 2,700 degrees kelvin (see chart). Unfortunately, 90 percent of the energy produced by incandescents is used to generate heat. Only 10 percent actually produces the light. Recent changes in the law aimed at improving lighting efficiency, coupled with improvements to alternative bulbs, have shaken the foundation of the inefficient incandescent.
The closest alternative bulb to the incandescent is the halogen. This bulb looks and acts like an incandescent with the low price and warm light that consumers are accustomed to, but uses much less energy. Still, halogen bulbs produce significant heat making them less energy efficient than the newer alternatives, such as fluorescents.
Fluorescents are one of the most available and easy-to-use new bulbs. In many situations compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)—screw-in fluorescents light bulbs—can take the place of incandescent bulbs. They cast light across a wide space, which is why they are traditionally used in office settings. They last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs and use 20 to 40 percent less electricity, making it easy to see why they are so appealing.
However, fluorescent lighting in home applications has a long way to go before it will win over designers. The color and quality of the light from florescent bulbs – in the range of 4,000-6,500 kelvin – create a cool, bluish white cast. While these lights are improving, most designers still favor the warm light and color cast by incandescent or halogen bulbs.
LED lights also are in the race for the next, best light source. These bulbs come in long flexible strips for use in small spaces or across curves, such as for cove lighting. In light bulb form, they are mainly used in recessed cans. They can be dimmed and have the longest life span of the any type of bulb. LEDs also have the advantage over fluorescents of being available in smaller and flexible strip formats. Like fluorescents, LEDs’ efficiency and longevity are remarkable, but so is the price tag at $20 or more per bulb. Currently, the light cast by LED is very bright with a cool, blue tint, but manufacturers are quickly refining this, getting ever closer to natural lighting.
Designers today talk about integrated, whole house lighting, and while we think of these systems as high end, they are offered today at lower price points and several large builders are testing them out in mid-range communities as upgradable features.
Whole house packages feature a variety of ways to control lighting throughout the home, and often are part of an integrated audio, temperature and security system. Buyers are drawn to the ease of use and the high-end feel of such systems.
On a smaller scale, simple programmable scene controllers allow users to create different settings of lighting and dimming options for single rooms. These controllers turn on and off at the push of a button. It is only a matter of time before the price drops even further on integrated systems, and they become a standard feature in most homes.
The intricate field of lighting design is going through interesting changes, offering new possibilities for uses, sources and styles, and allowing us to get the most for our lighting dollars.
The American Lighting Association’s website (www.americanlightingassoc.com) is one of many good sources offering technical advice and details on specific lighting needs. Interior designers and lighting designers are another good source for information and ideas.
Bright, bold fabrics continue to dominate in the world of design. A few feature fabrics, toned down with well placed neutrals, will keep a room fresh and alive.
The new palettes include Lush green Viridian, fashionable Fuchsia, bright Turquoise, and rich Cobalt. All four shades of yarn are dyed to the Robert Allen design team’s exact specifications, making them one-of-a-kind.
Together with Robert Allen’s new Turquoise and Cobalt blue colors, the collection has an overall relaxed and fresh feel that’s set off by an intense Fuchsia that adds flashes of summertime color. The full library of four colors can easily be merged for a wide variety of looks ranging from lively and bold to classic and calming. The fabric line includes statement designs and unique coordinates that encourage pattern-on-pattern mixing in addition to practical canvas, velvet, and linen solids.
For specifying information, call Robert Allen at 800.333.3777 or visit www.robertallendesign.com
About the manufacturer: The Robert Allen Design Group is one of the world’s largest designers and resources of fine fabrics for the interior design trade. Based in the USA, the company sells its products under the Robert Allen, Beacon Hill, Robert Allen Contract, and Robert Allen @ Home brands, and is renowned for the Robert Allen Color Library, recognized as the first fine fabric collection to be designed by color. The Robert Allen Design Group has showroom locations throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and an extensive worldwide agent showroom network.
Beasley & Henley Interior Design welcomes our guest blogger, Tina Madsen.
Tina Madsen is a design enthusiast who brings her passion for modern décor and writing to her role as the NowModern.com blogger. She also specializes in turning small living areas into spacious social hubs with bar stools and counter stools.
Most people want bigger apartments or homes to live in. It’s always easier to adjust to a wider space than to cram yourself and all your belongings in tiny quarters. The obvious solution for small rooms is renovation. However, that’s not always possible. What to do? Decorate your rooms cleverly and try these tricks to make your tiny rooms look and feel large.
1. Glass and Mirrors
The small square space looks magnified thanks to mirrors.
Photo by andy in nyc at Flickr.com
This is an old school trick for making small rooms appear larger and wider. They give an illusion of depth, which is why placing a panel of mirror along one side of the room can give the impression that it is twice as big as it actually is. Depending on where you position the mirrors, you can create an illusion of the room being wider or longer.
Besides the visual illusion of space, mirrors also reflect light and views. A brightly-lit room is less likely to feel stuffy.
As for clear glass, it helps make the room look more spacious. For instance, use a glass-topped coffee table instead of solid hardwood.
2. Large Windows
Large, open windows! Floor-to-ceiling glass windows in high-rise apartments always make them look bigger and more open. The same goes for windows opening from a den to the green yard beyond. Glass feels less like a barrier and doesn’t impede line-of-sight, which heightens the perception of space.
3. Less Clutter
The clutter on the floor, plus the dark colors of the room, makes the space look even smaller.
Photo by Gamma-Ray Productions at Flickr.com
If there’s no clutter, your rooms won’t feel so crowded. Even a spacious room will feel stuffy if it is cluttered with large, heavy furniture and various knickknacks strewn across display shelves and floors. Interior designers can also help you organize and design space-efficient closets and compartments (under the stairs, window seats, etc…) where you can stow seasonal items.
4. Scaled-Down Furniture
If your rooms are small, don’t cram them with large couches, bulky hardwoods and a pool table. Be practical with the space you have. If you want to have a couch and armchairs, purchase those that will fit just right in the room. Otherwise, you’ll just add clutter into the space, and we’ve already established that is a no-no.
5. Whites and Neutrals
The white walls, ceiling, and floor make the room look bigger, while the contrast of red makes the space look stylish.
Photo by frischmilch at Flickr.com
Light colors are the best for small spaces. White, along with proper lighting, doesn’t leave corners in dark shadows. Dark colors on the other hand can make an already tiny space look even smaller and compact. If you don’t like your walls too white, you can opt for a pale neutral.
If there is too much white, take advantage of the clean backdrop and get household items and accessories with contrasting colors. If your living room sofa and chairs are white and black, for example, you can place a bright blue vase on a table or a basket of bright flowers on the center table.
6. Room Dividers
Consider the idea of using room dividers instead of building walls to separate one room from another. The space above the dividers will reinforce the impression of continuity, which once again is helpful in making the impression that a room is bigger than it actually is. Of course, there’s also the added benefit of portability. You can move them to a different part of the room or put it away completely.
7. High Ceilings and Vertical Illusions
If you can’t make extend the space sideways, may be you can do it vertically. High ceilings make small spaces feel less stuffy. Similarly, decorating the room with vertically-oriented accessories will help create an illusion of a vertically-spacious room. You can hang square photo frames in a vertical line, get high-length drapes (the same color as the walls, as much as possible) with vertical pleats, or install floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.
Interior Backgrounds and Details are key to successful interior design. They are part of the ‘good bones’ of a space that support the furnishings and fabrics that are layer in later. Here are Beasley & Henley Interior Design’s top picks for 2013 and 2014.
1. Decorative Lighting is Jewelry:. Chandeliers and sconces in great styles and finishes are available from a variety of vendors at all price points. There are no excuses for bad lighting or dated, underscale fixtures. Look out for lighting fixtures with bright colors, stone accents, oversized shades, industrial designs and bold, organic shapes.
2. Brass is Back: Brass has been on the outs for years, but it is making a come back this year and for the foreseeable futures. Fittings for plumbing and lighting, door hardware, and accents on furniture pieces are being shown in brass and they look great.
3. Lacquer: Wall and ceiling lacquers have been popular for years, but look for lacquer finishes on furniture pieces such as tables, chairs and cabinets.
4. Tiles go Big. Large format stone and tile flooring are seen in 18×36 and even 36×36. These sizes are new, but we expect them to catch on fast.
5. Cashmere Paint. This washable paint by Sherwin Williams is a flat paint with a slight sheen, that falls between flat and eggshell. This washable paint provides a soft look and allows for easy touch ups.
The Catch up Caveat: Countertops –Open pattern, light-colored granites and solid surfaces like natural or man made quartz (ceasarstone, zodiac etc), have been popular over the past few years but we are still surprised by the number of people who are stuck in the past. Those who really love the old style, tight patterned, busy, dark, granite, should keep it, but if you want to get with the times and freshen up a dated look, then it is time to update those countertops.
Beasley & Henley Interior Design has identified the Top Five Color Trends for 2013:
Starting with #5…
5. Black/White. These staples are making a comeback. They were strong a few years ago, faded out and are cropping back up again. In 2013 you will see blacks and white as strong main colors on furniture, fabrics, cabinetry and as background colors. Look for them in both matte and lacquered, throwing even more versatility behind these sophisticated standbys.
4. Dark Blue and Navy. These colors started growing in popularity over the past year and they are coming on strong in 2013. Accent wall colors, fabrics, draperies will all see a refreshing push toward these darker blues.
3. Tan. Tans will start to push out the grey that has been ubiquitous for the past few years as the go-to neutral. We have nothing against grey, in fact we use it a lot, but we are excited to see tan as a main color.
2. Bright is still strong! Flaming Pink, Vibrant Yellow, Bright Blue, Lipstick Red are all vibrant and youthful colors that will continue to draw fans in both design and fashion for 2013.
1. Emerald Green - According to color authority, Pantone Color Institute, the big color for 2013 is Emerald Green. This color has made a strong showing in fashion and beauty, but not as much in the world of interiors. According to Pantone’s executive director “Symbolically, emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal, and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world.” Sounds good. We will see what 2013 holds.
Beasley & Henley, with offices in Naples and Winter Park, is known for its sophisticated, livable, and inspiring interiors. Their much-loved designs help homes sell quickly and inspire individual homeowners to commission Beasley & Henley to create custom designs for their own residences. The firm’s Naples marketing office phone is 239-774-1005, with Central Florida reachable at 407-629-7753. As always, please reach is by email at Stephanie@BeasleyandHenley.com
Good morning Design Fan! We picked this blog from designer Meredith Marlowe… she hits the nail on the head with these common design mistakes. Are you making them??
I am all about breaking the rules and pushing the boundaries of design, however there are some things that just do not work and are just bad design. Here is a quick list of the top 5 most common mistakes that I see in people’s homes.
1. Using matching sets of furniture:
Nothing screams amateur and boring more than matching furniture sets. People get scared about pulling a look together so they walk into one store and just buy the entire bedroom set. Your space needs some creativity and it should look as though it evolved over time. If you are on a budget, mix low end, vintage and a few more expensive pieces to make your place look stunning. Remember vintage shops and local auctions are great places to find deals.
2. Beige overload:
How many of you get nervous choosing paint or fabric colors so you just go beige? Neutrals are amazing when mixed with textures and accent colors but who wants to enter a room and get swallowed in a sea of boringness? Can you imagine if a woman put on beige blush, lipstick, eyeliner and mascara; it would be freaky and blah. Your eye needs to see contrasts. If you really want to choose only beige then pump it up with lots of textures and a touch or white, black or accent colors along with a glittering jewel of a light fixture.
3. No focal point:
Every room needs a place that draws the eye. Whether it is the fireplace, a beautiful bookshelf, a gorgeous view framed by amazing curtains; find your focal point and don’t be afraid to make it bold. Everything should not compete for attention or the eye gets fatigued and some of us get a headache. You need uncluttered and blank spaces for the eye to rest.
4. Incorrect Lighting:
Lighting can be tricky since it is affected by everything in the room and it changes with the time of day. When considering how much lighting think about the colors of your walls, fabrics, floors and if you get a lot of natural light. Very dark furniture will absorb light so you will have to amp it up a bit. Also remember to consider what activities will take place in the room. If you are reading, studying or cooking, you will need more light than a room for TV watching or sleeping. If you are feeling unsure just use dimmers so that you can adjust the light accordingly. Do not go overboard and punch too many holes in your ceiling. Remember to put different kinds of lighting – lamps, pendants, recessed and even candle light and your space will be excellent.
5. Photos hung too high:
I cannot tell you how many times I have entered a home only to strain my neck trying to look at art and photos on the walls. Art and mirrors should be hung at eye level when standing and not so high that it will be uncomfortable to look at while sitting. Your art should not be more than about 6”-1’ above the sofa. Of course, there can be reasons to break this rule but just make sure you are breaking it for a good reason.