Sunday, June 24th, 2018

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Lighting design principles to get you through NE Ohio winter


Underlighting warms this lovely space. (Photograph provided by Halper Lighting showroom.)

Underlighting warms this lovely space. (Photograph provided by Halper Lighting showroom.)


There are many ways interior lighting can lift your spirits up during the darker days of winter.

“Consumers in general are more educated about light,” shared interior designer and professor at Kent State University, Kathy Presciano, LC, ASID. “They are constantly exposed to advertising about lighting options and shows talking about the importance of what lights to use and how to use cutting-edge technology in their homes.”

Ms. Presciano cited everything from lighting placement in home – both task and accent – to bulb selection as ways consumers can improve both their environment and mood. “Homeowners can create lighting focal points and visual points of interest. Placement is really important.”

Bob Halper, president of Halper Lighting Solutions in Chagrin Falls, agrees about the importance of thoughtful placement. In addition to owning his own store and fabrication center, Halper’s background is in theatrical lighting and set design.

“There are two ways to approach lighting a space,” shared Mr. Halper. “You can focus the light directly on a surface, or you can wash the area – walls and all – to make the area look bigger and brighter.”

Underlighting, especially in areas such as a kitchen, can softly warm the area without the harshness of direct lighting. “Some under-cabinet or even under-countertop lighting can warm the entire space,” he added.

“I’ve even seen translucent stone countertops with LED lights below,” said Mr. Halper. “It is an absolutely gorgeous and warming effect for the whole kitchen.”

Both Mr. Halper and Ms. Presciano advise consumers to read all the labels when selecting lighting, whether it is an LED or incandescent. Pay attention to the wattage and the lumens. Also, realize that the LEDs, which are becoming more and more stylish (and come in many different colors now) last for years, rather than months, so paying a higher price is worth it in the long run.

Consumers wishing to control mood with lighting should consider adding inexpensive dimming switches, or buying dimming bulbs.

“Consider the placement of your fixtures – it has to be very deliberate. Make sure there are no dark spots. Consider light symmetry, too,” said Ms. Presciano. “Observe the lighting placement at night. Go back and add layers of light – more intense on objects, more of a wash effect in other areas.”

“In older homes,” she said, “you want to make sure when you select a lighting fixture that you have flexibility for different types of lighting – evening, daytime, entertaining, etc.”

“Energy-efficient bulbs are certainly worth the investment,” added Ms. Presciano.

With dimmers and paying attention to wattage or lumens, “you can create a hibernating feel,” said Mr. Halper. “It’s a perfect way to survive a Cleveland winter.”

Another way to chase away winter gloom is through the light fixtures themselves, said Scott Hannah, manager of Plantation Home and Cottonwood in Lakewood.

“For example, a traditional ball chandelier with an antique brass patina can provide visual comfort,” said Mr. Hannah. “There is a true resurgence in the brass patina, rather than the bright, shiny brass.”

Walking around the festive and sophisticated showroom at Plantation Home, Mr. Hannah was able to point out several lighting fixture trends that are visually comforting in the months of winter.

“People are looking for more sculptural lamps with a modern edge,” he shared, pointing out a lamp with a more traditional brass sculpture, but one that was mounted on a modern plexiglass base.

The addition of glass lamps from recycled material that looks blue, reminiscent of the waters of the Caribbean, can warm up a space and make occupants feel a hint of summer around the corner, added Mr. Hannah.

So whether it is the placement, bulbs, or the fixtures themselves, consumers have many ways to warm up their homes during the winter months. It just takes a little forethought – and maybe just a hint of looking for whimsy in the gloom.

“Design and listening to your heart work, too,” said Mr. Hannah, with a smile.

Some lighting tips:

  •  Natural light plays a large role in the type of lighting you need. Look at where the windows are and how much light they let in.
  • Compared to the standard bulb or halogen light, LED lights are smaller in size, consume less energy, are proven to be more durable and reliable, and last longer
  • Light in layers: Using the basic principles of Light Layering will ensure a well-lit house. That means: ambient (or General Lighting) – An even application of light throughout the space; task – light needed to adequately perform a task; or accent (or decorative lighting) – light that adds interest to the décor or architecture
  • Pendants can be used as task lighting over a reading chair or kitchen island. Positioned over your shoulder, correct light will be cast upon the reading material. Whether placed equidistantly along the length of the countertop or clustered in a variety of elevations, the necessary light will be provided on the kitchen work surface.
  • Use dimmers to soften the light and change the mood in a room.
  • Lamps can help bring life by adding color and texture. Consider using them to bring in a fun color accent to any room.
  • Don’t forget that the support of good lighting will make any décor look more luxurious and attractive

Susan Condon Love is a freelance writer in Lakewood.









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