It doesn’t matter how fabulous your stuff is if the lighting is poor. It is not only hard to see and, therefore, enjoy what you have; dark and shadowy spaces are difficult to clean, organize and work in. The wrong lighting is also hard on the self-esteem — ask any woman who thought she looked great until she saw herself in the harsh overhead lighting of the host’s powder room.
The first thing I notice when I’m assessing a job is the lighting — or lack of it. The most memorable case of poor lighting I’ve encountered is a client who had a low-wattage red light bulb in her extremely dark closet. It did little more when switched on than turn everything from pitch black to murky brown.
Dark basements are another problem area. If you are going to use a windowless space as storage, you should invest in having it wired to be clearly lit, or at least have utility lights in place near the doors that can be switched on easily. A few weeks ago, I was working with a client in her rented storage units and all the (normally very good) lights were not functioning. I was able to talk to the manager of the storage facility, and he took a significant deduction from her rent for that month. That is how important good lighting is to a storage unit.
Task lighting is extremely valuable in time management and productivity. Clean, bright light will enable you to work longer without the eyes tiring and is a big energy booster. Try to have the best light possible, preferably adjustable in height and direction, in any area you do paper work or read. I invested in a Pablo lamp for my desk, and it makes me happy every time I turn it on — the light is exquisite and it is very easy to adjust to direct where I need it.
Standing lamps for reading should direct light at your book or newspaper, not the top of your head. Most people position them too high. Three-way bulbs (high, medium and low light) or dimmers are great on standing and table lamps.
Dimmer switches on overhead light fixtures are an inexpensive way to improve the lighting in a home exponentially. Go full-on bright when you are in cleaning or work mode, then dim to a more flattering glow when it’s time to socialize and relax.
Table lamps are decorative and when fit with a shade, cast a nice glow and create atmosphere. You can have a lamp made out of almost anything — if you are a tea pot or ceramic vase collector, consider having one of your favorites made into a lamp. One of the easiest and most satisfying tweaks I made for a recent client was placing a table lamp on the buffet in her dining room. Although the room had a nice chandelier, the extra glow of the table lamp made the room look richer and more inviting. So simple.
Although you want strong, bright light when you need it, be sure to use the proper wattage for each fixture. Talk to an electrician about the type of lighting that is safe and “to code” for closets, cupboards and other spaces where heat and fire safety could be a factor. For example, halogen light bulbs become extremely hot when left on and could be hazardous in some spaces, especially where they could come into contact with paper or fabric. Be safe and shine on.