Lighting ~ An Important Element In Home Decor

Just recently my daughter, Sammi and I began a large project with new clients.  The space is a beautiful high-rise condo overlooking Uptown Charlotte.  Each room has an expanse of windows that are the length of the room.  The view from these windows is spectacular to say the least.  In fact, if you’re a football fan, you can see the Carolina Panthers’ Stadium as well as the gorgeous cityscape.

Because I’m all about natural light filtering into interior spaces, I love these windows for more than just the incredible view.  With all the light that can come in on a daily basis, I know the psychological benefits my clients will derive from this.  But aside from the natural light that comes into the condo, Sammi and I have a blank canvas to work with for other lighting choices.  In fact, the entire space is a blank canvas for us, as we’ll be completely furnishing the new digs for our clients.  Talk about fun!

A few days ago we sat down with the couple and discussed lighting options.  I found myself explaining to them my philosophy about lighting and why lighting was a crucial element in home décor.  While talking to them I told them a story about a client we had several years ago – a pro football player.  We furnished his new home from top to bottom and of course we also paid much attention to the lighting detail in his home.  After our work was complete, he had a house-warming party.  Much to my amusement, when he hosted this first big party in his home he called me early the morning of and asked me to come over an hour before the party (we were attending the party) to turn on all the lights for the party.  Clearly, he was still learning about all the lighting options we had created for him but at the same time, he understood the important WOW! Factor the lighting would make for his guests and so he wanted to make sure the mood was set when his guests began to arrive.  I watched our two clients listen to this story and chuckle over it and yet; it was clear they, too were beginning to understand the importance of proper lighting in their own new home.

After leaving this meeting with our new clients I realized a simple lesson on lighting would be a great Blog post.  So I hope you garner new insight on the impact lighting has in your own personal space.  You see lighting plays a key role in creating beauty in your space.  As an “armchair psychologist of the home” I believe that Living Beautifully = Living Well.  Lighting, like every other choice you make in your home décor ultimately has psychological affects on you and anyone that spends time in your home.  So, for the best feel good vibes you can get from your lighting, illuminate in layers.

Three “must have” layers of Lighting in your home

There are three layers of lighting you should use in your home lighting décor.   When combined together they create a mood for your space.  They are:

  • Task Lighting
  • Ambient Lighting
  • Interest Lighting

Task Lighting – This type of lighting is what I call “general lighting” as it is the lighting that is used to identify spaces and allow for the rooms to be lit for safety, etc.  This type of lighting is usually the overhead lighting in each room be it a chandelier in the center of the room, can lights spaced evenly on the ceiling of the room or a ceiling fan with an attached light.

Ambient Lighting – This type of lighting is what I call the “personalized lighting” as it is the lighting that is specifically chosen by the homeowners to be a part of the décor.  This lighting can make or break the feel good vibes of your space and should be carefully planned out.  Table lamps, floor lamps and wall sconces are all forms of ambient lighting.

Interest Lighting – This type of lighting is what I call “surprise lighting” as it’s the lighting that goes the extra mile to create atmosphere thereby adding to the warm fuzzies you get from being in the space.  Picture lights, accent floor lights and yes, undermount cabinet lighting are all forms of interest lighting.  (You may think undermount cabinet lighting is task lighting but it is so much more than that. It allows for added impact.)

All three of these forms of lighting should be part of your design plan for your home décor.  Each of these layers creates a focal point of some kind in your space, regardless of its location in the room.  Remember this and be cognizant of the impact each of these layers of lighting has on your space, particularly with how they combine for an overall affect.  Also, be aware of what I call “the brightness factor” of lighting and understand that increasing OR decreasing the brightness of each form of lighting changes the space.  For that reason in every home I work in, I make sure every single light can have flexible brightness.  I drive my electricians crazy at times when doing ceiling and wall lighting because I require dimmer switches on E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.  I even put dimmers on undermount cabinet lighting in kitchens and bar areas.  (Believe you me, when entertaining in your home or wanting to have simple low lighting on in the evening, undermount cabinet lighting in the kitchen sets the mood for relaxation!)

Minute Details of Lighting – Do’s and Don’ts

Pay attention to the minute details of your lighting.   Here are some simple do’s and don’ts:

  • Do use three way bulbs for your table lamps and dimmers for all other lighting.
  • Do dust regularly ALL your lampshades and ceiling fans. (Obvious dust on ceiling fans is the worst of the worst.)
  • Do hide all the electrical cords of your lighting as best and as safely as you can.  (Visible cords take away from the beauty of your lighting.)
  • Don’t use lampshades that are the wrong size or style for your lamps.
  • Don’t leave the plastic protective wrappers on your lampshades.

I’m looking forward to all the ways the lighting for this new project will “brighten” the space and create real beauty within.  I also look forward to the  “ah-ha” moment our clients will have when they see the impact that these three layers of lighting creates!  Most importantly, I look forward to how the lighting will make them feel, as I know their lighting is an important part of the décor that Sammi and I are intentionally adding to their space for living beautifully in order to live well.  And for you, my hope is that the lighting in your space brings beauty and wellness to you and yours as well!

To lighting up life…

Simple Ways To “Ground” Yourself In Your Home

As an “armchair psychologist of the home” I believe that everything begins in the home – so much so that my design philosophy grew from this belief and so I approach each and every decorating job with this key premise.  No matter what we do or where we go in life, I believe how we act, react and interact in the outside world takes root from how we live in our homes.  To put it simply, how we live in our homes should “ground” us, giving us the foundation to make us emotionally and mentally stable to go out into the world.  This means your homespace is vital to your essence.

I have always been a lover of Nature.  Hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, horseback riding, spending time at the beach, boating, white water rafting or gardening – no matter what the venue, my most favorite times have been spent outdoors.  For me being outdoors was a pleasurable experience.  Only after some trauma-drama infiltrated my life several years ago did I understand the healing powers of Nature.  Nature is flat-out the best tonic out there.  Period.  With this revelation I consciously decided to bring nature into my home in every way that I could knowing that if it worked for me outdoors by golly, it would work indoors, too.

This newfound revelation also became an integral component to my design philosophy and ever since, I have incorporated elements of Nature into all my jobs albeit often in really subtle ways that are only picked up on subconscious levels.  This allows for “grounding” to occur.  I also share with my clients’ ways to infuse Nature in their homes themselves (after I leave their nests) and on a larger scale to audiences such as the readers of my blog as in my post, Two Colors Every Homespace Needs.

Think of bringing Nature into your homespace as being part of getting back to the basics of what the earth has given us, literally.  Call it “grass roots” decorating.  Or call it simplifying your décor.  Heck, you can even look at it as a version of what is called “earthing”, a fascinating concept of connecting with the earth in order to become more balanced.  Ironically, just the other day Susan Weems Muehl, LIPH’s Nature Photographer emailed me a bevy of new nature images (thank you dear friend) and also mentioned that she was practicing the concepts of earthing.  No doubt about it, Susan and I are birds of a feather flocking together!  Both of us absolutely positively get the importance of nature and the earth’s connection to our bodies.  (With all due respect, “earthing” is more about physically being grounded; I am merely relating it to your home and how to bring Nature into your space.  To learn more about “earthing,” read the book, Earthing-The most important health discovery ever? Or go to www.earthing.com as well. )  Whatever you choose to call bringing Nature indoors, just do it.  Here are some simple, sure fire ways:

  • Decorate your home with found things in nature
  • Open up the windows and let fresh air into your home
  • Decorate with live plants, wildflowers and aromatic herbs
  • Pay attention to the seasons and honor them in your décor
  • When building, purchasing or moving into a new home, choose a home that offers you plenty of natural light (sunshine is healing)

Like many of us, I have times I’m in a real funk. I was in one recently for more days than I’d care to admit to.  Focusing too much attention on issues I had no control over and magnifying issues tenfold in my mind had gotten the better of me and quite frankly, I didn’t even find myself good company.  It’s a darn good thing my David had been traveling during this funk or he would have been rolling his eyes at me constantly, ignoring me or worst yet, pulling out his gorgeous silver hair over my attitude.  While in my funk my niece, Marli called me to chat and just my tone of voice when I answered her call made her aware that something was amiss.  I ended up telling her about my seemingly endless days of funk and she listened attentively.  Then she disrupted my pity party by saying, “Aunt Jamie, do what you always say to do.  Go to the woods.  Go to Nature.  Let it restore you.”  Whoa, was she preaching to me what I always preach?  Yep, she sure was.  And guess what?  I took her up on it.  I got off the phone and headed to the woods.  I simply needed an extra large dose of Nature’s medicine – more than my usual daily amount!  I walked and I walked, breathing in all the wonderful smells of Nature as I viewed the changing fall scenery.  So long funk. So long pity pot.  Nature restoreth my soul and I returned home more in tune with the earth.  I filled my lungs with the scent of fresh lavender on the counter.  I enjoyed watering all my plants.  I paid attention to the breeze coming through my opened windows and reveled in the sounds of nature I could hear coming into my home.  Later, as I readied for bed, I felt free of much of my recent anxiety and internally thanked Marli for her advice.

I believe that we all must singly as well as collectively connect or reconnect with Nature in order to truly be balanced and healthy. Infusing elements of the natural world in your home helps to accomplish this and is the single best way to ground yourself.  Remember to bring Nature indoors.  It might seem simple but simple’s good right?  And it might be a small step compared to the “barefoot steps” of earthing but by doing this you will give yourself gifts of healing that only Nature can provide.

To Nature…