Whenever you find yourself feeling down, feeling your self esteem drop, or even feeling unattractive, look around: are you in bad lighting? Bad lighting can put you into a funk, create bad highlights and unflattering shadows; you can spend all the money in the world and hire the best designer for your kitchen, bath, or commercial building, but a poor lighting set up can ruin the room.
|Example of bad lighting|
Good lighting beautifies rooms and people, positively affects mood, and accentuates a room, improving the ambiance created by the design and product selection. Good lighting makes you feel and look better; it takes you out of the dark, bummer England of the soul into the well-lit, tropical yet temperate clime of successful design.
|Example of good lighting-Notice how the lighting seems to be layered.|
Lighting is like clothing: often it is more successful to plan with layers. You need to consider, and use, the 3 types of lighting:
- General Lighting, usually from above
- Task Lighting, which can be turned on and off as needed (think drawing table lights, reading lamps, etc.)
- Ambient Lighting – (wall sconces, table and floor lamps, dimmed can lights, LED toe kick lighting, etc.)
The bathroom is possibly the most important – and most difficult – room to consider lighting for. Because the bathroom is small and full of stuff, there will be more shadows and the light bouncing off of the mirror (or mirrors) can complicate the lighting. Lights that flank the mirror are good because they will illuminate your face (for makeup application, shaving, etc.) while minimizing reflected light, because they are on the sides of the mirror. Of course, you would combine flanking lights with general lighting from above, and ambient lighting from sconces. A bad lighting situation would be a light directly above the mirror, or right above your head on the ceiling.
|Poorly Lit Bathroom|
|Well Lit Bathroom|
You want to shoot for flattering lights in all applications, and don’t forget your layers of light. Getting away from bathrooms, and moving onto commercial applications, we recently visited a bar/restaurant that had overly strong pendant lighting that was not really accompanied by sufficient general and ambient lighting. As there was basically a pendant per person, each guest at the bar looked lit up like they were on a stage. This lighting setup was unflattering and did not really work for the room; backing up the pendant lights with overhead lighting and ambient lighting would help that bar a lot.
|Well Lit Bar|
A well lit bar can be a good spot for a casual business meeting, or a place for an intimate conversation. Poor lighting can light up people in unattractive ways and set a bad mood or tone for the room.