How to avoid common lighting mistakes

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How to avoid common lighting mistakes

MANY people don’t spare much thought for the lighting in their homes and offices.

This week, RTN looks at the most common lighting mistakes and how to avoid or resolve them.

  1. Sticking with a default lighting scheme

The default lighting in the average room tends to be either too simple or too complex. On the simple end of the scale, you have a room with just a single light in the centre of the ceiling. The other extreme involves maybe half a dozen recessed lights beaming straight down.

The result is harsh, sterile, white light that is generally far in excess of what is needed.

If you’re cleaning the room or sewing a button on a shirt, then plenty of light can be a good thing. For relaxing, watching television, or reading, however, default lighting simply provides excess light. All that excess light is actually bad for your eyes.

Adding some wall lights, floor lamps, or table lamps can make a big improvement. You can also add a dimmer switch to control light fixtures. By softening the light, you create a more pleasant atmosphere.

  1. Failing to think about where shadows fall

When lights are not placed well, shadows can create problems for you. For example, if you are writing at a desk and the light source is from above and behind you, your shadow may fall across the paper, making it difficult for you to see what you are writing.

Try to locate light sources in optimal areas, giving thought to how the space is used. Lamps or lanterns can be useful as “fill lights” to eliminate problem shadows. In bathrooms, wall lights can be helpful, particularly if placed strategically in relation to where the mirror is located. This helps avoid makeup mistakes and shaving errors.

In kitchens, hanging pendants are a good idea to ensure you have light directly above the primary work area, instead of the light beaming from the centre of the ceiling.

  1. Mismatching the lighting design to the rest of the décor

You can usually get away with mixing retro lighting designs with modern furnishings and decoration, but using modern or futuristic lighting designs in a room that is furnished with antiques will not create the ideal look.

It’s best to plan ahead, giving thought to how the room will be furnished and whether you intend to use a theme for the room decoration. Then choose an appropriate mix of lighting solutions that will work with your décor.

  1. Choosing the wrong size of lighting design for a space

Bigger isn’t always better, but if you are lighting a large area then it’s also possible to choose lighting styles that are too small.

Think about the available space and choose a design that will look appropriate and will provide sufficient light (without it amounting to excess light).

Think about clearance height too. If you’re hanging a pendant or chandelier above a stairwell, you’ve got a lot more room than if you’re hanging it above a dining table. Around 75cm to 85cm of vertical clearance and 50cm of horizontal clearance is good for areas where people are seated, while for areas where people walk, you’ll want more vertical clearance.

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