How to Choose Lighting for your New Home

Most rooms in our home are built with a specific task in mind; cooking in the kitchen, sleeping in the bedroom, etc. The living room can be a little more difficult, it plays host to a variety of activities such as reading, watching tv, napping, playing games and entertaining. A multi-use space like this needs carefully planned lighting for every occasion. 

Before you begin lighting your new home, you need to know where all the furniture, art, and accent pieces are going to be. This can be especially difficult if you’re moving into a new home and starting from scratch. It’s recommended you map out each room and the activities you anticipate. If you plan on doing plenty of reading on the comfy recliner in the corner of the living room, then you’ll want to ensure there’s light in that space for you. You might have an impressive piece of art you want to hang, find out where so you can properly light it. If there’s going to be a tv in the basement rec room, you’ll need to plan your lighting around that as well, so glares don’t affect your viewing. 

Once you’ve mapped out each room it’s time to explore the three types of lighting you’ll use throughout your home:

  1. TASK LIGHTING

Some of the lighting we mentioned earlier, such as a lamp near the chair you expect to be reading in, is considered tasklighting. These lights serve a purpose. When planning how to properly light a room, particularly your living room, kitchen, and master bedroom, lighting is a great place to start. Your decisions should be based on function as well as style. It’s good to know, while there are ambient table and floor lamps available, you don’t want to use those here (ambient lighting is discussed in the third step) because they’re not adequate for tasks such as reading or knitting. Instead, you want to look for a desk lamp or floor reading lamps. These are bright enough to reduce squinting and eye strain. 

Bias Lighting is another good example of task lighting. Creating bias lighting will help you avoid the glare from other lights on a TV, as well as decrease eye strain from staring at your television screen. Add rope lighting or LED strips to the back of the television, creating a frame, about two inches from the edges. A soft glow will emanate from behind your TV that benefits the viewer, without taking up space or affecting the design of the room. Choose a warm colored rope lightthat’s dimmable; about 1000k – 2700k at night, switching to 3000k – 5700k during the day. This lighting is also beneficial for your circadian rhythm. 

  1. ACCENT LIGHTING

Once the task lighting is planned, you’ll want to focus on the accessories and artwork decorating your home. Accentlighting is a beautiful way to highlight these as well as any architectural features you want to show off. 

Recessed lighting (choose adjustable if possible) is popular for illuminating your special pieces. Often referred to as “pot lights” they are small fixtures, flush with the ceiling. However, if it’s adjustable lighting, you can angle it to shine on your art. Many homes in the Ottawa area have a standard eight-foot ceiling, if your home is the same, you’ll want to place the light two feet away from the wall, on a 30 degree angle for its best display. 

If you’re drawing attention to an architectural feature or a textured wall, consider a wall-grazer. These lights are almost invisible, but they create lighting and even shadows that are very appealing when highlighting a feature like this. 

  1. AMBIENT LIGHTING

Now that you’ve decided on your task and your accent lighting, ambient lighting will help fill in the blanks. A new style of ambient lighting you might enjoy is linear architectural recessed lighting. Imagine long skinny lines of light that are sleek, and easily fit right into the drywall. 

We mentioned ambient floor and table lamps earlier; that they are not the best choice for task lighting. Now is a good time to bring in your favourite ambient pieces. At this point, you’re usually trying to add light to a few dark pockets in your living room, bedroom, rec room, etc. Floor lamps are recommended because they create a localized pool of light at eye level, which is very flattering on faces. It also lends to a relaxed and intimate atmosphere for social gatherings.