Lighting Is An Overlooked, but Key Part of Every Home.
The right lighting really makes a difference in our lives. Lighting in your home is so important but it’s rarely considered. You need good lighting for doing makeup, preparing food, and even just making sure you don’t stub your toe on every piece of furniture. So why isn’t the importance of lighting discussed more? Why don’t more people think about it when decorating their homes? Lighting is the silent hero of the day.
Types Of Lighting
There are 5 main types of lighting in your home: Natural, General, Ambient, Task, and Accent. Most places will only focus on the top 3 types: general, task, and accent. But I think that natural lighting and ambient lighting are important too. They all work together to make a room feel and function better.
Overhead lighting falls into general lighting. The job of general lighting is to brighten up an overall room. That could be through using ceiling mount lights or wall mount lights or potlights.
One of the most important types of lighting we have is natural. Without it, we wilt. On dreary days we don’t feel as energetic, we don’t get our dose of Vitamin D from the sun, and our homes feel depressed. Windows, solar lamps, and skylights help provide us and our homes with natural light.
You can also describe this as mood lighting. Any type of lighting that’s meant to add a feeling or set the tone in a room setting wold be ambient. This could be table lamps, fireplaces, night lights, and dimmable lights. These aren’t necessary to light up a whole room, but they add a softer lighting option to the room.
These lights are designed for certain jobs and to help you work on tasks. They are brighter and focus on a smaller area. Lights like spotlights, office desk lights, flashlights, and emergency lights are considered task lights.
Here’s where the fun light fixtures light to hang out. Accent lights are purely decorative. I think of them as smaller-scale versions of ambient lighting. Ambient lighting affects the overall room, while accent lighting affects smaller areas of a room. Things light candles, puck lights, a spotlight targeted on a piece of art, and LED light strips are accent lighting in your home.
The Best Lights For Home
Watts Vs Lumens
Many people decide what light bulbs to buy based on the watts. But it’s the lumens you should be looking at to decide if a light bulb is right for the job. With most bulbs for residential use being LED now, the watts aren’t going to be labelled as boldly.
The watts measure how much power a bulb uses. It tells you whether a bulb will match up to the voltage going out through the light socket.
Lumens measure the light output from the bulb. It tells you how bright a bulb is going to be- no matter the type of bulb being used.
LED bulbs don’t use nearly the amount of power to work as incandescent bulbs do. So there’s not need to worry about having a LED bulb that’s rated as a higher intake than what the light socket allows for. Now, you can convert the number of lumens in a watt, but that’s going to change depending on the type of bulb you’re using too. A light bulb that measures 600lm will be 40w in an incandescent or 10w in a LED bulb.
So It’s best to understand how many lumens a bulb should be for the different types of lighting instead.
For areas that need lighting in your home, the general guideline is this:
Floors should have 20 lm per square foot
Tables should have 30 lm per square foot
Tasks should have 50 lm per square foot
So if you’re trying to light up your bedroom that measures 12x 12, you’ll want to use a combined total of 2880 lumens, or 3x 1000lm bulbs. Make sense?
Warm Vs Cool
In general, warm white lighting is softer, makes skin complexions look better, and is easier on the eyes. Cool white lighting is the closest to daylight and inside your home will be brighter, cleaner, but it’s harder on the eyes. It’s for this reason that cool white bulbs will actually have a higher lumens rating than their warm white counterparts.
Basically the take away is that warm lighting is great for bedrooms, bathrooms, and lounging areas. Cool lighting is better for kitchens and workspaces.
Types of Common Light Bulbs
There are different types of light bulbs you can use residentially. Lowe’s has a great light bulb guide on the differences between the most common bulb types. Here are the ones I come across the most in homes.
- LED (Light Emitting Diode)
- CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light)
What’s a Good Lighting Combination For Your Home?
A general suggestion is that there should be 7 sources of light in a room. So when I’m decorating a room I like to layer lighting and include a mix of lighting options as much as possible. A window, a floor lamp, side lamps, a ceiling lamp, 2-3 spotlights, and a collection of candles, for example. But the number of light sources can be different depending on the room’s purpose. An office is going to have different light needs than a bedroom or bathroom.
Living room: 7-10 sources: general ceiling or wall lights, table lights, floor lamp, fireplace, potlights, windows, accent lights.
Bathroom: 2-3 sources: general ceiling light, task light for makeup or shaving, and accent lights.
Bedroom: 4-5 sources: general ceiling light, bedside task lights, accent lights, ambient lamps or fireplace. Perhaps task lighting for makeup/grooming.
Kitchen: 7-10 sources: general ceiling lights, multiple spotlights for chopping and preparing food, ambient under cabinet lighting, accent lights such as candles, natural light from a window or skylight.
Office: 4-6 sources: general ceiling light, desk lamp for task work, floor lamp for reading and working at a computer, natural lighting.
In every room though, layering lighting is the key to making a room feel more inviting, be more functional, and look great no matter the time of day.
Home Lighting Summary
To summarize this post into the key points:
- There are 3 main types of lighting: general, task, accent.
- 2 more types to consider are natural and ambient.
- Warm lighting is for relaxing areas, Cool lighting is for working areas.
- Lumens measure light output, Watts measures power output.
- Every room should have multiple sources of light.
- Most homes don’t have enough sources of light.
- Layer the lighting in your home to increase function and style.
I hope this helps you to properly light up your home and make it more comfortable to live in no matter the time of day.