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Category:  Decorating

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Decorating With Light

By Patricia Taylor

Decorating with light is difficult. Light reflects and refracts in different rooms. It behaves differently in a room of wood and glass than it does in a room with fabrics and artwork. This is why a chandelier that looks absolutely perfect in a friend’s house, or in the bosses house, looses its effect in your home.

This is also a problem faced by people who move into a new home. The new homeowners viewed the home and fell in love with it. The central chandelier set of the entrance and brought continuity to the dining and living area. However, once the new homeowners take possession and move their furniture in, the chandelier looses its luster and can even appear tacky.

Lighting that is too bright and garish can be muted with shades. Even chandeliers can have shades made for them. A sheer material that lets a soft glow through can restore the luster and bring back the room’s magic.

Chandeliers do two things. They wash the ceiling with light, and they illuminate the room. A bright ceiling fixture should not be hung on a plain, white ceiling. It should have molding and even a tint to the ceiling to reduce the glare and create intricate shadows and designs that lead the eye in an arc.

Wooden rooms should have lighting fixtures that create a warm glow. The light should make the wood sheen, instead of reflecting off it.

Bold lighting will bring out the rich colors and designs in rooms decorated in fabrics. A stronger light can bring out the sheen of cottons and satins, or highlight a fabric border. It will also draw the eye away from ‘quiet’ areas of the room.

The current trend is to step away from ceiling lights and use ambient lighting to highlight the living areas, enhance the focal points, and even create an artistic feel to the room. Ambient lighting can bring the dullest, tan bedroom to life, pulling the warmth from the brown tones and creating a focal point that leads the eye away from worn furniture and fixings.

Ambient lighting can also create a comforting effect that is both relaxing and interesting. Light trained on fabrics and walls will ‘quiet’ a room. Light hanging from the ceiling ‘spotlighting’ a certain area of the room, or a bright color, will stimulate and excite.

One important aspect that most people overlook is the shape of the lamp. A room with sharp angles needs a light with the same angles. This will train the light to follow the room’s angles instead of flooding out of control and washing over the room, blurring the lines, and dulling the effect.
Choose lamps and shades which complement nearby artwork. The cylindrical base of many lamps is a perfect counterbalance for straight lines in art and mirrors. The shade should not compete with the colors in the room.
The perfect table lamp is one that disappears into the background, illuminating, and framing the colors, shapes and textures around it.

We want our homes to have a one kind atmosphere and our bedroom to be our ‘comfort zone’. Lighting is a powerful tool that has a dramatic effect on a room’s atmosphere and ambiance. The simplest things are often the most profound. They create the greatest pleasure, and add life to an environment. Look to light to do this for you, turning any room in your home into a dream room.

Patricia Taylor advises on home furnishings and decor from her web site at She invites you to get her FREE home decorating guide here


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