Saturday, November 14, 2009


Now that we've said so long to daylight saving time, what can we do to make our homes brighter? Lighting is the easy, affordable answer and it will allow the introduction of dramatic design elements and upgrade your life.

Lighting does more than perform a illumination duty. It also creates atmosphere and expresses personal style. Whether you hang a chandelier, install accent lighting outdoors or simply plug in a beautifully designed table lamp, lighting can make or break a room.

Here are some illuminating tips to help you choose the right lighting:

• Illuminate a room in proportion to the space. Lighting designers figure proper illumination by first multiplying the square footage of the room by 1.5. For example, a 15-by-20 foot room is 300 square feet. Now multiply that number by 1.5. In our example, 300 times 1.5 is 450, so that's the amount of wattage you need to properly light a room, dispersing that 450 watts through lamps, ceiling lights and task lighting. For concentrated task areas such as work spaces, multiply by 2.5.

• For great lighting accents, install wall sconces about 60 inches above the floor and spread them 8 to 10 feet apart in hallways, fireplace walls or flanking a dining hutch.

• Place a 20-inch tall candelabra lamp stick with a dark shade on each side your fireplace mantel, the console behind the couch or in the hallway for an elegant glow to the room. The dark shades will add a sense of masculinity to the space.

• When deciding what size chandelier you need, add the rooms dimensions together, but substitute inches for feet. For example, in a 12-by-16 foot room, you would add the 12 to the 16 to know that a 28-inch diameter chandelier would be ideal. To determine the diameter of a chandelier that hangs over an existing dining table, just divide the table width in half. For example, a table width of 48 inches would accommodate a 24-inch chandelier nicely.

• To hang a chandelier in a dining room with 8-foot tall ceilings, the bottom of the chandelier should fall 30 inches above the tabletop. Add 3-inches for every additional foot of ceiling height.

• If many of your existing light fixtures need replacing, new inexpensive lighting from a local home improvement store will work wonders. They show lighting in grouped collections for just this purpose.

• And my very favorite: Buy small silk shades in alternating colors that work with the color scheme of the room. Use these to replace the old grungy glass light covers most often found on your dated 1970s brass chandelier. They just snap right on the small bulb. You can also paint the shiny yellow brass finish in a gold, silver, bronze or black metal paint, for that wrought-iron look and a wonderful way to update and change the whole ambience of a room.

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