lighting gesture

The Last One About Lighting

My column from a few weeks ago about light bulbs has been getting some attention. Several times I’ve been asked for more information, had comments made that now the homeowner knows what to ask for, and thank-yous for clarifying the whole thing. You are so welcome.  Thanks for letting me know you read my columns and that the information is useful to you. In light of all of this, I thought perhaps I should continue the illumination and talk a bit more about lighting our homes. If you are making a floor plan, are redecorating, or are tired of the dark corners in your home, this one’s for you. As I said before, light the tasks in the room first, then add the ambient lighting, then finish with the accent lighting. Task and ambient are fairly clear, but to review: Task: light the room-specific activities. Reading lamps beside the sofa READ MORE

How to Choose Lighting

The credo here is “Light the tasks, not the room.” I’ve said that before but it’s the soul of successful lighting so it’s worth repeating. If you want the whole 9 yards on lighting, splurge and buy my book ‘Every-Day Design Dilemmas, Decorating Simplified ‘ There’s a whole chapter on lighting. Why do you need to pay so much attention to lighting? Well, for  example, a large ceiling light may  or may NOT provide enough illumination so anyone walking in the room can do so safely. Consider the person sitting in a corner trying to read, or sitting at a desk with her back to the center of the room. The book may be in shadows. Let’s not even talk about trying to thread a needle or count the stitches in a row of crochet. This is where the task lighting comes into play. Get out your room usage list and look at each of READ MORE

LED or CFL? How do I choose?

I see so many people standing in the light bulb isle with a glazed look on their face. How do you choose? It’s not as confusing as you may think, read on. Start with the amount of light you need in your room. For years, we used a formula of room length multiplied by room width, times 1.5 for the total wattage required. But that doesn’t work anymore without a conversion chart at hand. So, let’s move past the old way and forget about watts in choosing light bulbs. Here’s how to do it now; if you need to refer to watts just for comparison, Google it. There are TONS of conversion charts out there.  The way to calculate is based on Lumens (Lm), not watts. Watts refer to the amount of energy a bulb uses, Lumens refers to the amount of light it produces. Watts are what cost you READ MORE

dining room chandelier


Before Katrina I was in New Orleans and happened onto a shop in the French Quarter that had a chandelier for sale that was 6 feet in diameter and 7 feet long. Baccarat Crystal. It had about 300 light sources on it, was from France late 1700’s. Price: $289,000.00. I would have loved to see the room it ended up in. Every go into a room and see a fixture hanging over the table and wonder why it is hung so high? Or why it looks so small, or so large? Well, there are a few guidelines ( once again, design principles are guidelines, not rules) to help you avoid these oopses.   How to calculate the size The size of a chandelier hanging over a table is determined by three things: the size of the room, the size of the table under it, and the height of the walls READ MORE

lavender lightingplan

How to light a room Part 2

Because this is a re-print of my column, Part 1 is below as it was published 2 weeks ago. Please read it first. Do part one first Now that you have set the task and ambient lighting in your rooms, go back and look again and decide if the room needs any Mood lighting. Are there some very dark corners? Consider a pot light shining up into a large green plant. Very dramatic and very inexpensive. Is there a great painting on one wall? Perhaps an overhead light is needed to highlight this. Don’t overdo it though, just because there is a corner doesn’t mean you have to light it. Your lighting in each room needs to be both direct and indirect, of various intensities and at various heights. The direct lighting is that which lights a specific task, ie a light over the music on the piano. Indirect would READ MORE

How to Light a Room Part 1

Techspeak: A lamp is the bulb. The apparatus that holds the lamp is referred to as a fixture. I did an install not long ago where there was hardly enough light to see anything I was doing. In a recent issue of House Beautiful (my favorite shelter magazine) 10 designers speak about the biggest decorating mistakes we make in our homes and 4 of the 10 mention lighting. On a recent ‘Cityline’, lighting was talked about as being a decor maker or breaker. When I teach the lighting section of the interior design course, the demonstration of different types of light always brings the biggest oohs and ahhs…. So here you are; Lighting 101: First of all, if you have the luxury of planning your lighting in a house while it is being built PLEASE hire an interior decorator or designer to help you plan the lighting. Most of us READ MORE