Articles » Light Up Your Life

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 the home.

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?