Lighting is trickier than most of us realize. Different types of lighting are needed for different situations, and it’s not so simple to know what you need where. Lighting changes the mood of a room. It makes you feel safer. It helps you perform tasks better. Don’t think it’s a deficiency if you go into a lighting store and haven’t a clue. The biggest mistake most people make is choosing the wrong type of lighting for a room. What should you do?

Light It Right
Each room needs lighting for the activities you do there. A kitchen obviously needs different lighting than a living room. A good home lighting plan considers both natural light and artificial light. Here’s a list of ques¬tions to answer for each room. Keep in mind there may be more than one answer for each question.

  1. What do you do there?
  2. What kind of ambience do you want to create?
  3. Are there areas that require more than one type of lighting?

Types of Lighting
This type of lighting provides overall comfort. For example, use ceiling fixtures in hallways and over stairs and entrance ways to light these areas evenly. In the dining room, a chandelier will give you general lighting, but if it’s on a dimmer switch, it can also be lowered for ambient light. Wall-mounted fixtures or recessed or track lights will give general lighting to a room.

Task Lighting
When you have to balance a checkbook or prepare dinner you want a lot of light on the subject. For these tasks use recessed or track lighting or a portable lamp. “Bright” is the operative word.

Accent Lighting
When you want to highlight and create drama, you want an accent light. This requires at least three times more light than general lighting. If you have a painting on the wall, accent it with track, recessed or wall-mounted fixtures.

Lighting Systems
Portable Lamps
These offer the most versatility in a room. The height and shade are important considerations. A parchment shade will allow the light to center down on the table or up on the ceiling, but won’t give you ambience. A translucent shade will give you a strong downlight and uplight as well as diffused ambient light through the shade.

Track Lighting
Popular for task and general lighting, this is a very flexible system. Each light can be positioned on the track in any direction, so you can fiddle with the lighting until you get it the way you want it.

Recessed Lighting
This is a very streamlined way to have all three types of lighting. Recessed fixtures can be used anywhere and are installed in the ceiling with only the rim showing. They’re perfect for low ceiling areas and over kitchen counters where you need focused downlights.

Instant Romance
Dimmer switches have to be the best invention since the lightbulb. Also called rheostats, they enable you to lower the amount of light from a lamp. A bright light for reading can be dimmed for romance once you curl up on your new sofa for an evening with a significant other.

The Cool and Hot News
Fluorescent light produces cool light. It’s very harsh and makes your skin look green. In other words, never, ever use it in the dining room, bedroom or anywhere else you want to look good. It’s usually used in the kitchen or garage because it’s bright. Incandescent light is warmer and adds a little glow. Use it for Hollywood-style makeup lights around your bathroom mirror and you’ll leave home feeling good about yourself.