Each week Mansion Global tackles an interior design topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week we look at designing a home’s lighting.
Lighting can add a kind of magic to a room. Whether the effect is soft and subtle or all-out glimmering, illumination is as integral as the décor itself.
“Getting the lighting right is essential for any space in the home,” said Brad Ford of Brad Ford ID in New York. “It can help set the mood or define the functionality of a room.”
“The secret lies in having multiple sources of lighting, which also includes fixture placement overhead and at eye-level,” said Corey Damen Jenkins of Corey Damen Jenkins & Associates in Birmingham, Michigan.
To find the best light for every room in your home, follow these tips from the design pros.
Consider the space
“Evenly distributed lights make the most successful rooms. It’s nice to have overhead lighting, but I always like for that particular light source to be on a dimmer so you can control it throughout the day.
"I also like different points of light throughout the space coming from lamps or floor lamps. It helps keep the eye moving and can highlight either a certain part of the room you want to draw attention to or a collection of artwork, or where the bar’s set up, for instance. I designed a model residence at Cast Iron House where we opted to place multiple lamps throughout the home instead of larger overhead lights. The goal was to be understated and complement the space’s natural light while simultaneously creating a sense of warmth.
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"At our studio, we often talk about decorative lighting being the jewelry for the home. With that in mind, certain rooms deserve to be a little more ‘jeweled up’ than others. For instance, I think a foyer, powder room, or dining room call for a more dramatic pendant or chandelier, because it either sets the tone for when you first walk into a home, or adds to the spirit of festive occasions around the dining table. I also think a master bedroom is an area where you could splurge on a nicer fixture. For a living room or den, I generally like simple overhead lighting and then have more interesting accent lights such as lamps or floor lamps throughout the space.
"Areas where you may be working, such as a kitchen, library, or office, should be well lit. But areas of entertainment, like the living or dining room, should have more ambient light that you can control.”
— Brad Ford of Brad Ford ID in New York
Create a strategic plan
“When we are building a custom home for a client, one of my first courses of action while developing the electrical plan is strategic placement of floor plugs. This enables me to place lamps anywhere they need to be in a space and not just hugging the walls on the room’s perimeter.
"Generally, as a rule, I allot for a minimum of seven feet clearance under a hanging chandelier (in a foyer for example) and 30 inches between the bottom of a hanging fixture and a table surface. But these rules are extremely flexible and I have no problem pivoting from them based on eye-balling the situation. Interior design is a very fluid process and lighting is not immune to that.
"In terms of the types of fixtures to choose, think about the style of the room. Is it a traditional space? If so, chandeliers, pendants, and wall sconces may be in order. Is it modern and clean? In that case, less may be more. Perhaps a more dramatic lighting impact could be made with ‘hidden’ lighting sources i.e. LED components. Also, functionality plays a key role. Lighting selections should be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.”
－Corey Damen Jenkins of Corey Damen Jenkins & Associates in Birmingham, Michigan
Think through placement
“The secret to a beautifully lit room starts with symmetry. It is essential to position lights at equal distances from a chosen object, or spread evenly over a wall, and at the same height all around. Dimmers really help set the vibe; just make sure you choose the right bulbs. For example, LEDs may be eco-friendly and cost friendly, but not all work well on dimmers.
"It’s important to divide lights into statement pieces as well as more subdued functional pieces. There should only be one statement piece per room or per corner (depending on how big the room is). Also, consider your actions and your favorite things in the space and plan accordingly. Where do you do your makeup? Where do you read most? Do you read while your partner sleeps? All these factors can help you choose the right lighting.”
Suzie Cohen Levinson
－Emma Shahar of Craft and Bloom design studio in Tel Aviv
Use multiple sources
“Layering lighting is the key to a successfully lit room.
"All lighting should be dimmable. This allows us to create lighting scenes in a room based on the time of day and what we are doing in the room. For example, having a large cocktail party in your living room warrants a different lighting scene than if you were having a quiet evening at home reading a book.
"For a recent project at the Woolworth Tower Residences in Manhattan, we chose a stunning pendant to ground the dining table in the dining area. It sparkles and creates wonderful ambient light. Floor lamps are strategically placed for reading in the great room. Table lamps in the living room not only provide an interesting design component for their shape, texture, and color, but they also provide general illumination.
"In the foyer, we placed sconces above a console flanking a mirror to help create a focal point on the wall opposite the entry. Recessed ceiling wall washers not only light artwork, but also reflect light off the walls, which increases the overall ambient lighting. Recessed ceiling fixtures are a good complement to a center pendant for general lighting in a large room where there can be dark pockets. For a master bedroom, swing arm lamps on the walls on either side of the bed free up space on the bedside tables. The swing arm makes it easy to get good lighting while reading in bed. Layering lighting from different sources and at different heights creates a robust and full-bodied lighting scheme.”
－Eve Robinson of Eve Robinson Associates Inc. in New York
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