Layer on the Lighting

Layer your hair. Layer your clothing. Layer your lighting? Yes, the complex topic of the form and function of lighting is one of many layers.

Cecil Adams, creative director for Currey & Company shares, “Oftentimes, it becomes more about the function, and the design is overlooked.” On the flip-side, he continues, “You can fill a room with beautiful things—furnishings, fine art, cherished photography—but if the pretty fixture offers poor light, you can’t enjoy them.” Long story short, you have to have both.

On the topic of function, while the lighting source itself can—and should be—a design element, it also serves an important function. A great lighting design should consider the space from floor to ceiling and across the varied purposes of the room.

Anthony Di Domenico, new product development manager for Feiss-Monte Carlo, encourages the technique of layering when lighting a room. He says, “A layered approach allows the lighting to adjust for different times of day, alternate moods and varied functions.”

High design incorporates form into lighting as well, without sacrificing function. There are a number of trends on the rise worth considering. Spherical shapes, LED options, “found”—or one-of-kind—looks are just a few. And—in keeping with the mid-century modern movement—brass finishes are finding their way back into the conversation along with unique and new materials.

Adams points out, “While crystal still has its place, the industry is experimenting with new materials—agate slices or even quartz points, as examples.”

No matter your preferences, take the time to really consider the role of lighting. Domenico cautions, “Lighting can transform a space. It can also ruin a space if done poorly.”

Ready to layer on the lighting? Here are a few things to consider:

The Main Event

Don’t miss the opportunity to create a special focal point, even in an unexpected space. Consider adding a chandelier in the nursery or bedroom. Can’t give up that ceiling fan? Drop two chandeliers over the nightstands as an alternative to the more common table lamps.

The Task at Hand

Keep in mind what the space will actually be used for. Task lighting is important for reading or desk spaces.

A Few Highlights

If the light source is not the focal point itself, directional lighting can add emphasis to that valued work of art or other identified centerpiece.

Set the Mood

Use ambient lighting to create a subtle atmosphere. While recessed lighting is the most common, the addition of under or over cabinet lighting—and even floor lighting—can establish interest with a softer tone.

Be Flexible

Lighting controls allow for flexibility through the day, adding or decreasing light as necessary.

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