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…

Five Common Blunders In Home Décor

Over the years in my career I’ve seen it all in home decor – the good, the bad and the tacky.  (Were you thinking I’d say ugly?)  You name it and I’ve seen it.  Truth be told, I’ve never really seen anything just plain ole ugly.  Instead I’ve seen blunders, which in my book can lead to tacky decor.

As I mentioned in my post, Love In Your HOME, I recently experienced several occasions whereby Webster’s Dictionary was pulled out for the “audience” and meanings of simple words were read aloud.  That experience got me on the bandwagon of providing definitions for words I use just so there’s no misunderstanding of what I mean by the words I choose.  So for that reason here’s Webster’s Dictionary’s meaning of the word “blunder”:

Blunder: “To make a mistake through stupidity, ignorance or carelessness.”

I’m guessing now that I have piqued your curiosity.  Just what you wonder do I consider a decorating blunder?  Or worse yet a blunder sooooo bad that it can lead you to the “Road of Tacky”?  (Look for my upcoming post, If You … Then You Know You’ve Made A Decorating Blunder for some comic relief on the worst of the worst I’ve seen, or the best of the best as beauty after all is in the eyes of the beholder you know!)

Yep, I’ve seen it all.  But without a doubt, most of the homes I have entered are as lovely as those that dwell in them and so the blunders that I find are subtle.  By that I mean that the blunders I see create distraction on a sub-conscious level rather than a conscious level and quite frankly, this is the level that’s most important.  You see it’s on the sub-conscious level that we walk away from something not feeling the love so to speak and yet, we just can’t put our finger on why we don’t.

Over the years I have come up with a top five list of the blunders I see over and over again in homes that I have either worked in or visited on a social basis.  So, without further adieu, here are the top five blunders I find people make in their homes:

  1. Overkill of Collectibles
  2. Improper Lighting
  3. Improperly hung Artwork
  4. Dirty Walls and Doors
  5. Taking a Décor Theme into overdrive

Overkill of Collectibles

Most of us love collecting knick-knacks.  I know I do.  I love Herend Porcelain Figurines, Vintage Dinnerware and Antique Hand-carved Ducks.  What becomes a blunder is when you go too far with your collections.  When displaying collections remember my decorating motto, “Less is more”.  Don’t have your collection of crystal paperweights or your collection of antique dolls in every cabinet, on every dresser and on every table in every room.  Instead, choose specific places to accentuate your home with these collectibles.  I suggest displaying collectibles in odd numbers such as 3 or 5. Displaying your collectibles as onesies all over your home or in large groups everywhere you turn takes away from the charm, character and uniqueness of your collectibles.

Improper Lighting

Improper lighting can truly ruin the ambience of your homespace.  No-nos include lampshades that don’t fit the lamps, using bulbs with the incorrect wattage, dusty shades, dusty bulbs, dead insects sitting in overhead lighting and most importantly, forgetting to have lighting at different levels of your homespace.  For example, don’t rely only on overhead lighting for each room.  Be sure to have low-level lighting on tables, task lighting for areas such as in your kitchen and use dimmers wherever you can.  The key is to give yourself flexibility in your lighting.  Oh – and don’t forget to take the plastic off your new lampshades!

Improperly hung Artwork

Nothing can ruin a look more than improperly hung pictures and artwork.  Just as an educational tip to remember – pictures and artwork should be hung at eye level.  This doesn’t necessarily mean at your eye level.  For instance, I’m 5’2”.  My main go-to professional picture hanger is about 6’7”.  But, we hang all my clients’ pictures and artwork at the eye level that the art industry recommends:

When looking at the center of your piece, hang it approximately 60”-65” from the floor.

Obviously there is more to consider about your picture if it is being placed in a grouping or is being placed over a piece of furniture such as a sofa.  I recommend the Internet to further educate yourself on the art of picture hanging –it’s full of sites you can visit that give great step-by-step instructions for every picture-hanging project you can imagine.

Dirty Walls and Doors

This might sound like a cleanliness issue but oh it’s so much more than that.  It doesn’t matter how beautifully decorated your space is, if walls have dirt and grime on them – ugh!  If there are handprints, footprints, peeling paint, grit and grime on your doors- ugh again!  You can bet others sub-consciously notice it.  This goes for light switches, too as they are often the culprits for dirt and grime.  Get out the Clorox wipes routinely and walk throughout your homespace with a keen eye for spotting places you need to wipe away mess.  This takes very little time if you stay on top of it and will absolutely, positively make a difference in your homspace feel.  I guarantee it.

Taking a Décor Theme into overdrive

Here goes my decorating motto again – “Less is more”.  Just look around your homespace.  Love one specific color?  Let it flow throughout your space, but in bits and pieces.  Love animal print?  Again, use it sparingly.  A little goes a long way to send a message of beauty in your homespace.

So there you have it, my top five blunders people make in their home décor.  Why not take the time today to peruse your homespace room by room and see if and where you could fix some mistakes?  You might find some surprises.

To a fabulous homespace…