There is probably no other aspect of a home that has such as direct
effect on our psyche as the light that streams into it. Spaces that
are well-lit with soft even light are cheerful. Every one gravitates
to such spaces, and everyone avoids the dark, poorly lit areas of
It isn't just the quantity of light that matters - the quality
is also important. Harsh, glaring light is less enjoyable than soft,
diffuse light. To achieve that, rooms need to have light from two
sides. This is one of the basic insights from Christopher Alexander's
study of home design called "A Pattern Language." If you
only have natural light from one direction, you need to balance
it with artificial light from a different direction.
Light comes in two varieties - the natural light of the sun, and
artificial light of man. When you can get it, natural light is more
enjoyable and its free. Unfortunately, once the sun goes down, sunlight
is not longer available. That's why thinking about lighting from
the very beginning of you home planning is important.
There are three types of artificial light you need to consider
- ambient, task, and accent. Ambient lighting is the soft diffuse
overall light level of a room. Task lighting is more intense, placed
where you need it for particular uses, such as reading, writing,
food preparation, hobbies, etc. Accent lighting is used to draw
attention to particular areas such as artwork or focal points or
to set a particular mood.
In every room, you need to ask yourself - is there sufficient light?
Is the light coming from more than one direction? Do you have task
lighting where you need it, either through built-in downlights or
through lamps? Does the light enhance the drama and excitement of
focal points? Remember, it's a lot easier to add built-in light
early in construction, before the walls are closed in.
Since light adds so much value, and costs so little, isn't it time
you put some more light in your life?