Light up your home!

Somehow, a romantic dinner without the glow of candlelight just isn’t the same. And reading a great book without adequate illumination will simply give you a headache. Lighting can set the mood or help us see what we’re doing.

Choosing the appropriate lighting for your home is definitely governed by function. But it’s a decorating decision as well. Good choices in lighting will give your rooms the ambience you want and can add immeasurable comfort.

There are many beautiful and practical options available in lighting today. Lamp bases are more decorative than ever, in materials and styles as varied as the rooms they occupy. Antique or brushed pewter, cast and wrought iron, turned and plain wood, ceramics, glass, metal. Crafty people can even create their own lamps from elements they enjoy or collect. Kits are available through home improvement outlets.

Shade choices
Shade choices are numerous too, currently with an emphasis on texture. A new shade can update an existing lamp very inexpensively. Some of the most wonderful shades I’ve seen lately are crafted from hand-made papers, with leaves and other natural materials imbedded right in the sha. They make a wonderful relaxed style statement in a casual room.

Others are covered in textured raw silks, burnout velvets and damasks, with beaded details creating a more glamorous and dramatic effect. Choose the shade that best fits your own style from the many options available.

Because lamp placement is critical in the success of any lighting plan, here are a few basic points you should keep in mind:

Table lamps:
Perhaps the most practical and versatile of all portable lamps, the table lamp can serve a variety of functions. A table lamp is a good choice to create a focused pool of light for reading.

Be sure to place the lamp just behind the shoulder of the reader, with the bottom of the shade slightly below the reader’s eye level. This will give the most even reading light with the least amount of shadow.

Proper distance
If you have a special bouquet, collection, or plant, a table lamp is a great way to draw attention to it. At the same time it will add warmth and drama to your room. When deciding placement for your lamps, keep in mind that the best placement for optimum lighting is a distance slightly less than one metre from the objects you wish to have lit for emphasis.

The amount of illumination a table lamp provides is determined by the shape and material of the shade as well as the wattage of the bulb. A shade with a smaller top will cast a more focused pool of light, while one with a wider top will give a more general light to your room.

Remember when you are choosing a shade, the colour will be cast into the room’s light. You can use this aspect to great advantage in decorating.

As for the bulb, never exceed the lamp’s recommended wattage. Wattage is determined by the manufacturer to be adequate for the task the lamp is expected to perform.

Floor Lamps:
A great choice for adding interest to a dark corner, the floor lamp can also create excellent light for reading. Place the lamp about two feet behind the reader’s chair. Don’t place it beside the chair or shadows will interfere with their view.

Floor lamps will direct light upwards or downwards depending on the shade. Keep this in mind when you are making your choice. Decide where you want the light cast before you choose the lamp. Is it a dark area of floor you want to brighten for safety reasons or are you just looking for some more visual interest in the room?

Desk and Task Lamps:
Typically, desk or task lamps are smaller in scale, taking up less of your valuable workspace than a table lamp. They should be situated behind the shoulder at a distance of approximately 40 cm. (16 inches) above the work surface. This placement that will give you the best light for the work at hand and a minimum amount of shadow.
Wall Mounted Lamps:
Both decorative as well as functional, wall-mounted lamps are certainly worth including in any discussion about portable lighting. Ideally, wall sconces should be mounted about two metres or five and a half feet above floor level.

It is very important not to expose the bulb to the naked eye. This height insures that the bulb will be hidden by the shade and protect your eyes.
Now that you know all about lighting, have some fun brightening up your home!