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Design With Light

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The design of a room goes beyond the color of the walls and the placement of decorative accents and area rugs. Lighting plays a huge part, perhaps the most important part, in the feel and mood of a room.

First off, you can manipulate the mood of a room with lighting. So, determine what the mood is that you want.

Mood = Warm: welcoming, cozy, and relaxing. Emphasize gold and red tones to add a warm aura.

Mood = Neutral: dynamic yet with harmony. Reinforce natural light with middle-spectrum lighting.

Mood = Daylight: vivid, fresh, and cheerful. Provoke activity with streams of light.

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Bathrooms: often thought of as a vanity area, light in the bathroom should be versatile. On one hand you want there to be multiple types of lighting to aid in getting ready and optimum visibility. While on the other hand, you want there to be an alternative to turn your bathroom into a more relaxing, oasis where you can unwind and calm yourself before or after the day.

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Bedrooms: similar to bathrooms, you want your bedroom to have various layers of lighting, making the space adaptable to your needs. Bedside table lighting for reading and before-bed needs, full-room lighting for dressing and cleaning, and other, layered lighting for any mood you happen to be in.

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Kitchen: another room where versatility is paramount, kitchens can be meal prep areas as well as hosting and gathering locations. Light in specific areas like countertop lighting as well as over head make for a kitchen with multiple uses and conveniency.

As a rule of thumb for all rooms, lighting should be adaptable to any situation that may occur. Therefore, multiple layers of lighting is always a great idea so one isn’t boxed into one kind of lighting purpose and use.

Light Ergonomics: Improper Lighting

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You may have heard the term “ergonomics” in the past relating to office furniture or style. But what exactly is “light ergonomics”? Light ergonomics refers to the relationship between a light source and individual response. Light quality can be divided into 9 categories: individual or socio-cultural expectations, light sufficiency, distribution of light, contrast, glare, flicker, thermal heating, acoustic noise, and color spectrum (Wiki).

Proper lighting is crucial, especially in working environments where insufficient lighting can make tasks more difficult or cause mistakes. Common side effects associated with poor lighting include headache and eyestrain, falling, tripping, and stumbling, and in extreme cases, depression. Poor lighting can also contribute to stiff necks and aches in the shoulder area. More recently, computers have begun to cause problems for office light ergonomics. Computer screens are both a source of illumination and glare. We’ve all experienced the infamous afternoon window glare on a monitor, or pesky overhead fluorescent lights creating a mirror effect on the screen. Most people use computers and paper documents at the same time, curating a fairly difficult balance between lighting for paper and lighting for LCD screens. A popular solution for this conundrum is using a subtle desk lamp that can provide enough light for documents without obscuring the monitor.

The amount of necessary light heavily depends on the type of task being done, environment, and individual needs. Range of illumination is measured in lumens, or “Lux” for short, and should range anywhere between 500 and 1,000 at 30 inches above floor level. For example, those performing visual tasks of moderate contrast need 500 – 1,000 Lux, while someone working for a prolonged period of time doing extreme visual tasks needs 5,000 – 10,000 Lux.

To minimize insufficient lighting situations, be sure to replace light bulbs on a regular schedule, clean out light fixtures, place additional light fixtures in dark areas, use reflected light to eliminate shadows, and prevent lighting from being placed directly behind a worker’s station.

Media Room Lighting Tricks

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When you come home after a long day of work, do you sink into your couch and turn on your local news, only to have to get back up again, close the blinds on every window, and shut out all of the sunlight to avoid that fateful glare?

Managing the light in the room where you watch TV or work on a computer screen pits you directly against the sun’s natural movement.  With a few easy adjustments, you can learn to control the light in your home office or entertainment space.

Add layers to your lighting

Lighting and shading controls influence how we interact with our screens. We often look at more than one screen in our media rooms, and for this reason, it’s a good idea to have more than one source of adjustable light.

Joe Rey-Barreau is an associate professor at the University of Kentucky’s School of Interiors and College of Design. He suggests a three-layer system of different lighting layers. He says, “A single lighting layer could be fixtures that are of the same type. One layer could be recessed lighting in the media room, another layer could be wall sconces, a third layer could be an integrated architectural lighting system such as a cove or niche.”

Dimmer is Better

Try to get out of the habit of having one bright lamp turned on in your room.  If you dim a light by what seems to be 30 percent in brightness, you will reduce the light level by as much as 90 percent.  According to Brent Prutzon, manager of energy information and analytics at Lutron Electronics, “Your eyes will be able to quickly adjust and adapt to the changes in light levels.”  Lowering brightness on your screens improves eye strain and headache.

Finding the best spot for your screens

At some point, the sun will win.  You might need to move your television to a darker corner or room.  There are pivot mounts that you can purchase to reposition your TV throughout the day, depending on the movement of the sun.  You can strategically place lights behind the TV to avoid major glare.  Place the TV in a position where the back of the TV faces a window.  Perhaps this redesign will inspire some creative lighting ideas!

IKEA to Sell LED-Only Lighting Range

LED LightingStarting September 1st, 2015, IKEA will become the first major U.S. retailer to sell an LED-only lighting range. They previously announced this change at the beginning of the month, and with September right around the corner, we will finally see the high-volume retailer deliver on its promise. Along with new catalogues and other product releases, IKEA’s push to only sell LED bulbs and lighting aims to encourage customers to live a more sustainable life at home.

IKEA, already an economically friendly solution to shoppers on a tight budget, wants to become and even better resource by providing customers the opportunity to add affordable lighting to their current money saving efforts. LED lighting is not only affordable, but also environmentally sound. According the IKEA U.S. President, Lars Petersson,

At IKEA, we believe that everyone should be able to afford to live a more sustainable life at home and save money on their energy bills. Also using less energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Changing a light bulb may seem like a small action but many small actions can lead to a big change. Note that if one million people changed one bulb each into an LED this would be equivalent to taking 6,700 cars off the road or planting 17 million trees per year. That’s significant.

These days, customers are even more likely to purchase LED bulbs over more energy wasting brands. As of 2015, 64% of Americans purchased at least one LED light bulb as opposed to only 49% in 2012. Unfortunately, more than half of Americans fail to know the benefits of LED lighting. Not only do LED lights use less electricity, the average bulb can last an average of 20 years.  With the cost of electricity ever increasing, LED lighting can contribute to a global energy saving initiative.

In addition to helping customers, IKEA is also reducing its own energy use by increasing its renewable energy source. The company aims to solely use renewable energy by 2020. IKEA recently announced in June of this year that it would invest 600 million euros over the next 5 years on wind and solar power technology.

Pros and Cons of Track Lighting

IG-Federal-Electrical-Supply-TrackLChances are, if you’ve ever been to a museum, art exhibit, or restaurant, you’ve been exposed to track lighting. Track lights are simply a lighting system in which lights run along a track, allowing for custom positioning and “spotlighting”. Tack lights have become a growing trend in home decor, often featured in the kitchen, living room, or family room. When used correctly, track lighting can highlight a room’s best features including art, sculptures, or other key pieces. With such a versatile option for lighting, homeowners have the ability to get creative with interior design and decor. Analyzing the pros and cons of track lighting can help determine if this exciting trend is right for you.

Track lighting is easy to install, but can be pricey. Although track lighting is no more difficult to install than regular lighting, compared to other fixtures that connect directly to an electrical box, track lighting can be expensive. Depending on the length, shape, and quality of the track, a 4-foot track can range anywhere between $500 – $100 and require a few hours of manual labor. On the flip side, track lights are useful for those who prefer not to dig deep into the ceiling to run wire or install additional electrical boxes.

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Track lights have the ability to highlight special features in a room, but may not illuminate well. Utilizing track lighting in a living room or music room may highlight a grand piano or dramatic work of art, but may also fail to provide general room lighting. This lighting is best used when it isn’t the only or central light source in a room. Track lights are recommended for larger areas with the ability to add additional lighting sources, not small rooms like powder rooms or bathrooms.

Track lighting offers an array of styles and design schemes, however poor taste could land you with unappealing hardware. Be sure to select a track that blends nicely with the room’s decor. Inappropriate tracks can clash with with the other features in the space, creating a cluttered ceiling. In most cases, you want your room to look as open and breathable as possible. Not cramped and claustrophobic.

Track lighting can serve as a great alternative to traditional lighting schemes. Be sure to select the one best suited for your needs and always consult an expert if necessary.

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