Ultimate Guide to Lighting Your Waterloo Region Home
Is your home feeling dark and drab? Many of us don’t give much thought to light bulbs, until they blow that is, but choosing the best light bulbs for your home can enhance the atmosphere, boost home staging and home decorating efforts, save money on your electric bills, and even increase your productivity.
Knowing how to choose light bulbs and lighting types that work best in a given space can be challenging if you are unsure of your options. Here’s a helpful look at some of the basics of what is an underappreciated, but done right very effective, element of home design.
Light Bulb Performance
Light bulb brightness and color can alter the appearance of the room and even impact your mood while you’re in the space. Therefore, it’s not a good idea to buy a whole case of the same light bulb and install them throughout your house. Here are a few things to consider when purchasing light bulbs for each area of your home.
Light brightness is measured in lumens, and the amount of energy it takes to produce a given lumen level is measured in watts. Standard incandescent bulbs commonly range from 40 watt bulbs, which produce 450 lumens, to 100 watt bulbs, which produce 1,600 lumens.
In rooms that require higher light levels like kitchens or home offices, choose light bulbs with higher lumen levels. Low light spaces, like hallways or closets, may only need bulbs with an output of 450 to 800 lumens.
Today’s light bulb labels refer to “colour temperature,” which is measured in Kelvins. Lower temperatures indicate warmer tones. A light color measurement of 2700K to 3000K is comparable to the warm yellow or white tones of incandescent light bulbs, while a 4000K bulb emits a pure, white light. The best light bulbs for natural light are 5000K bulbs, which emit a cool tone that simulates daylight.
Colour Rendering Index
Another measurement, often used with CFL bulbs, is the colour rendering index (CRI.) The CRI refers to how an object’s color appears under the bulb’s light, when compared to how its coloring appears under ideal or natural lighting. A higher value indicates a more true representation of color.
Incandescent bulbs typically have a CRI value of 100, which is the highest possible value. Florescent lighting usually ranges between 50 and 98, and LEDs fall between 80 to 98. A CRI value of 80 or higher is ideal, but you may want to consider higher values for spaces where a true rendition of coloring matters – bathroom vanity areas or home art studios, for example.
Types of Light Bulbs
There are three main types of bulbs on the market today: halogen incandescent bulbs, compact florescent bulbs, and LEDs. Light quality is now fairly standard across all three types, but cost and energy efficiency vary considerably.
Incandescent bulbs have been around for more than a century and were the main choice for home lighting for most of the 20th century. Today’s halogen incandescent bulbs come in a variety of shapes and colors. They emit a warm, ambient light that flatters skin tones. Although they are not energy-efficient – less than 10 percent of the energy they consume is converted to visible light – they are the least expensive option. Since a lot of the energy they take in is converted to heat, they can be hot to the touch.
Compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs) operate just like those long fluorescent tube lights you see in classrooms and stores, but they are compactly coiled to work in traditional light fixtures. Energy Star-rated CFLs use roughly one-third the energy of halogen incandescent bulbs while still giving out the same level of light, and they last up to 8-10 times longer.
CFLs produce heat, and their lifespan may be reduced when placed in glass or globe fixtures due to limited ventilation. Their lifespan is also shortened when they are turned on and off frequently, and you may notice flickering or a slight lag each time they are turned on.
CFLs have a reputation of giving off harsh light, but newer versions are available in cool or warm (white to yellow) tones. CFLs may not work with traditional dimmer switches, so be sure to check the packaging for compatibility. One caution: florescent bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, causing a hazard if they break. Proper disposal or recycling of CFL bulbs is critical.
LED bulbs (light emitting diode) are the newest light bulbs to hit the market. They are the most costly, but they are also the most energy efficient.
An LED bulb emits little to no heat and uses just 6-8 watts of energy to produce the same brightness as a standard 60 watt incandescent bulb. They last about six times longer than CFLs and over 30 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
While incandescent bulbs and CFLs emit light in all directions, LEDs are directional. To counteract this feature, LEDs light bulbs have a special coating to diffuse light, but lower quality bulbs may seem dimmer than their counterparts.
Choosing the best light bulbs and lighting in general - or your home requires room-by-room evaluation. Consider your home’s unique needs when selecting bulbs and light fixtures. To save energy, use LED bulbs in places where lights are left on for long periods of time. Use these tips as a guide:
Lighting by Room
Each room has a different purpose, and the lighting you choose affects the kind of environment you want to create. Your kitchen has a different aesthetic than your bedroom, which is different than your bathroom. Find out what works best where below.
What to Think About for Your Kitchen Lighting
Kitchens usually feature more lighting than any other room. It’s the epicenter of conversation, cooking, food prep, eating, cleaning, and storing food and utensils. Because it serves so many purposes, there’s a range of kitchen lighting options available. A good guideline to follow is to make the space look as open and bright as possible, since shadows have a dimming effect on the entire room.
To accomplish a bright, clean look, layer different light types together. For general lighting, which is the main light in addition to windows, install recessed lights, flush mounts, or larger light fixtures. Then with accent and task lighting, include island lights and lights over the dining table to highlight these elements. Place lights under wall cabinets to chase away shadows and create a brighter counter space. By layering lights together, you create a more inviting atmosphere.
Vivid Lighting for Your Vanity and Bathroom
The most important thing for installing bathroom lights is to use fixtures rated for damp or wet areas. Check product descriptions as you shop to find the listed safety ratings. Other than that, bathroom lights are flexible as far as style and type are concerned. Recessed lights above showers and bathtubs are common and reliable choices to provide even illumination. To add a stylistic touch, check out pendants or chandeliers to hang above drop-in or freestanding bathtubs.
Pair other light types above with sconces, vanity lights, or LED mirrors to complete the look of your bathroom. Vanity lights are perfect if you have a narrow vanity or small bathroom, while sconces work best in pairs to provide even lighting.
Beautiful Bedroom Lighting
Where kitchens and bathrooms rely on bright, even lighting, bedrooms are all about comfort and coziness. Bedroom lights range from warm and simple to brilliantly decorative, every detail contributing to a sense of contentment.
For simplicity, add a ceiling light as the main fixture with a pair of bedside sconces or table lamps. For an ornate look, add floor lamps, recessed lights, or track lighting to brighten up the room and add more focal points.
Lovely Living Room Lights
Living rooms are an ideal area to layer general, accent, and task lighting. Where a kitchen features practical lighting for cooking and entertaining, living room lighting showcases your personality. Pair a lighted ceiling fan or a flush mount with some lamps for a classic look.
Add a large chandelier to make a statement, go more subtle with recessed lights, or pair both together for a dazzling atmosphere. Highlight art pieces, photographs, or your favorite chair with accent lighting, or create the perfect nook with task lights. Where the bedroom is your haven away from the world, the living room underscores your style and home for all to see.
Exceptional Entryway and Hallway Lighting
Entryways are the first impression of your home’s interior, whereas hallways lead to other rooms. In these areas, your eyes are looking for something to draw their attention.
A chandelier or pendant in an entryway makes a welcoming statement. For lower ceilings check out flush, semi-flush mount, or recessed lights. For an art gallery effect, add sconces or track lights to highlight photographs, posters, hangings, or interesting décor.
Outstanding Outdoor Lights
Like bathroom lights, only install outdoor lights rated for wet environments. Indoor light fixtures can’t handle elements like wind, dirt, water, ice, and snow. The number of light fixtures you need outside depends on the size of your home, garage, deck, and yard.
Wall lights, like sconces and carriage lights, work well around garages or entry doors mounted just above eye level to illuminate visitors without blinding them. Outdoor ceiling lights work well for porches and patios while post lights work anywhere in the yard (plus 12 inches of clearance from curbs and driveways). Path lights highlight landscaping and walkways, and deck lighting brightens up parties and gatherings.
Lighting for Interior Design Styles
With thousands of light fixtures to choose from, it’s helpful to narrow down your choices by selecting a design style. Which style works best in your home? Read on to find out.
Farmhouse lights have a rustic simplicity to them, relying on clean lines and bright light. Wood, iron, matte black, and antique white are all popular farmhouse finishes. Farmhouse lights include chandeliers, pendants, sconces, flush mounts and ceiling fans.
Modern lights focus on bold statement pieces in shiny chrome, glass, black, or metallic finishes. They celebrate clean lines, avoiding additional ornamentation like crystal, relying instead on minimalism to make a statement. Modern lights are available in chandeliers, pendants, flush mounts, sconces, track lights, and ceiling fans.
Transitional lights are flexible, borrowing design aspects from other styles like traditional and modern to create a unique look. Since this design is characterized by combining styles, almost every kind of lighting fit within this aesthetic. Transitional lighting can include pendants, flush mounts, chandeliers, and more.
Classic lighting holds a timeless charm, emphasizing traditional finishes like satin nickel, polished brass, oil-rubbed bronze, and iron. This style highlights extra little details that add character to a piece, like crystal, candelabra bulbs, and shades. Browse through classic chandeliers, pendants, sconces, flush mounts, and more.
Cottage lighting features antique finishes like white, iron, and wood. The whole goal is to combine charm, a hint of vintage, and eclectic designs to create a cozy aesthetic. Embrace cottage chandeliers, pendants, sconces, and lamps to create the perfect look.
Industrial lighting is bold, minimal, and utilitarian, emphasizing simple lines and a clean, open feeling. Most lighting fixtures accentuate the shape and design of the light bulbs without hiding them behind shades. Edison bulbs work exceptionally well in this style, and most finishes are black, white, brass, or chrome. Industrial chandeliers, pendants, flush mounts, lamps, and track lighting are unique in their design.