See the light

A decorative ceiling fixture can be the main lighting piece in a living space, with accent lights to highlight art or brighten dark corners.
A decorative ceiling fixture can be the main lighting piece in a living space, with accent lights to highlight art or brighten dark corners.PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

Proper illumination can brighten dark corners in a home and influence the emotions of those living there

NEW YORK • Lighting can totally transform a space - not just by brightening dark corners, but by affecting your emotions too.

"Light is a powerful thing," said Mr Theo Richardson, director of development at Rich Brilliant Willing, a Brooklyn-based design studio known for its striking LED fixtures.

"The right light lifts the mood, inspires productivity and motivates us. At home, light enlivens the little things - our morning routines or the moments we spend with friends."

Here are some guidelines for creating a well-lit space.

Mix it up:

Most designers agree that you need more than one source of light in a room.

Every room should have a mix of lighting, including overhead, accent and task lights.

In the living room, you might begin by hanging a decorative ceiling fixture near the centre, said Mr Nathan Orsman, a lighting designer. "Then, we look towards the outer walls for downlighting that can gently wash the walls, curtains and art with warm, functional brightness."

Depending on a room's layout, accent lights could be used to highlight art and table lamps could be placed beside seating to add another layer of light.

And, for extra ambience, he added, "a candle never hurt".

The goal is to create contrast between the light at the centre of the room and around the perimeter, and the darker spaces in between.

Go bright in the kitchen:

One place where bright light is more important than ambience is the kitchen.

Mr Orsman suggests flooding the space by installing high-hats or recessed lights along the edge of the ceiling.

If you have a kitchen island, consider hanging pendants overhead, which will light the space without taking up room you might need to eat or prepare food.

Consider a room's orientation:

If you have a north-facing room without direct sunlight, it will generally require a little more thought.

Ms Donna Mondi, an interior designer, installed recessed fixtures along the perimeter of a north-facing living room to complement a central pendant that spread light horizontally throughout the space.

She also used table lamps to illuminate dark corners and a pair of sconces to draw attention to a special piece of art.

For a dark bedroom, she used a similar strategy, combining a central chandelier with discrete up-lights in the corners of the room and bedside lamps for reading.

Banish bad bathroom lighting:

"The worst option is a recessed fixture over the sink, as it casts shadows that are not flattering," Ms Mondi said. Opt for wall-mounted sconces with 75-watt bulbs installed about 1.7m off the floor, which helps cast even illumination across your face.

Light up the corners:

Ms Caitlin Murray, founder of Black Lacquer Design in Los Angeles, said: "When you have an empty and awkward corner, one trick of the trade is to transform that space with an oversized floor lamp.

"Look for a lamp that is complementary in finish and material to the surrounding space and an otherwise lost corner instantly becomes an intentional, polished part of the overall room design."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2018, with the headline 'See the light'. Print Edition | Subscribe