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No matter how beautiful your home might be, if you have the wrong lighting you're not showing it off to its greatest advantage. Proper lighting enhances your skin tone, allows you to see what you're doing and draws attention to focal points in your decor.
There are three main types of lighting. The first, general lighting, gives basic, overall light to an area and should be bright enough to allow you to function safely in your home. Accent lighting highlights and draws special attention to details in your home--artwork, plants, collectibles. Task lighting is just what it sounds like--light to help you perform tasks such as reading, cooking or hobbies.
To achieve the best use of light in your home, here are things to keep in mind:
- Don't over- or under-light a room. Most people tend to over-light, but you can avoid that by checking the tag on each lamp for recommended wattage and not using more. Or install a dimmer.
- Choose the right light for the job. For general lighting, overhead lights are the traditional choice, but also consider multiple floor lamps or cove lighting--lighting hidden in a decorative way, such as that around the perimeter of a room--for a soft warm feel.
- Put the right light in the right place. For accent lighting, for example, consider recessed pinspot lights on the ceiling that shine down on a table or mantel. For further accent, try sconces flanking the door.
- For a good reading lamp, look for the right lampshade--one that's not too high or too wide. A reading lamp should cast light on your book without getting it in your eyes.
- In addition to general lighting in the kitchen, consider task lights on the stove, sink and counter.
- In a seating area, make sure lighting appears to come from the front of you, not behind or beside you or from the person you're conversing with.
- When you go to a showroom to buy lamps, bring pictures of your home and the area you want to light if you have them. If not, bring measurements--the room size, window dimensions, measurements of any archways, the height of the ceilings, etc.
How to Buy and Hang a Chandelier
"Chandeliers are a great general light source in the dining room," says show host Sherry Ruggieri. That's because they direct light up, where it bounces off the ceiling and back down to create a warm, soft glow. Here are a few tips for buying and hanging chandeliers:
- Choose a chandelier that's a little more than half the width of the table it will hang above.
- Hang it so the bottom is about 30 inches above the top of the table.
- If the chandelier you already have is too big for the table, hang it higher. Go up one inch for every inch it is too wide--that will help it look proportional.
- Don't buy a two-tier chandelier unless your ceiling is at least nine feet tall--no ifs, ands or buts!