Lighting Tips From the Pros

by Editor | Feb 23, 2005
Lighting Tips From the Pros Ten Tips that Will Help You Light Your Home Up Like the Pros

To help you make the most of your decorative lighting, the experts at the American Lighting Association (ALA) offer the following ideas for illuminating your home -- no matter what your budget.

• Don’t Wait: It is important to plan your lighting even earlier than other decorating ideas because there are frequently decisions that need to be made relative to the location and type of electrical outlet installation during construction. You also need to consider lead time. “Consumers are surprised when we tell them it may be as long as six weeks to get their decorative fixture,” says Kathy Held, who is a buyer and vice president at South Dade Lighting in Miami, Fla.
“We don’t keep every fixture in every finish in the showroom. Consumers need to start earlier and have patience while their fixture is built.”

• Take Your Time: Give lighting as much consideration as other decorating decisions like flooring, wall covering, and furniture. Create a master plan of how you want the finished house to look, and work at it over a year or two. For instance, do you want mini-pendants versus recessed lighting over the kitchen island, pin-point spots versus a wall outlet to illuminate artwork, or a floor outlet for a lamp in your seating area?

• Ask the Experts: To make the best decisions, embrace your lighting showroom personnel. Get information from them. “And bring them information,” says Joe Rey-Barreau, educational consultant for the American Lighting Association. “Use your camera. Bring a digital image of the room and what is not working. If you are trying to create a decorative element, bring in swatches of fabric, pillows, and paint chips. Make the fixture the statement to complement the room.”

• Quality Counts: No matter what your budget, opt for timeless materials like bronze and glass over their plastic counterparts. Timeless designs in top materials will always look right and can become family heirlooms.

• Test It: Try before you buy. In most instances, you can take a lamp home, try it and bring it back if it doesn’t work.

• Focus Pocus: Put lighting to work creating focal points. Add lights to direct the eye in a new direction by focusing on a piece of art, furniture or the mantel.

• Dim Some: Dimmers are an inexpensive trick-of-the-trade. They help set a special mood in the home by allowing you to manipulate the light. Install them at the wall for ceiling fixtures and even buy them for table lamps.

• Space Case: Add more drama to a space with accent lighting. By illuminating the top of a bookcase, adding under-cabinet lighting or hanging a colored pendant over the kitchen island, you can create islands of light that bring the grain of the wood, the print of the wallpaper or the color of a wall to life.

• Do Your Homework: “There is a wealth of information on the Internet, particularly the ALA Web site,” says Rey-Barreau. “You should also rely on lighting showroom people as experts -- many are interior designers.”

• Take Credit: Consider financing your lighting purchases. Many ALA showrooms now offer private label credit cards and 90 days same-as-cash programs.

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Author: Editor

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