It's not just about switching on a bulb to clear the dark. There are rules!

By Frederick Chia / 2 February 2023

Changing the lightLight bulbs everywhere. Light bulbs in your space. Light bulbs in your head. Source: cdn

  • Every lighting has its place

  • Take the proportion of the room into account

  • Contradict or complement the central design theme

I just had my eye surgery a couple of days ago to correct my deteriorating eyesight. So this article is being typed out by someone else while I verbalise the sentences. 

The truth is I enjoy reading my Kindle in the dark, and safe to say, it is not the right practice for those who want to keep their eyesight in tip-top shape. Lighting is really important for your home…or eyes, you know?!

Besides being functional, lighting also plays a major role in aesthetics. Imagine someone beautiful and smart, like Heidy Hepburn or…or…Ana De Armas. Before I shine a light on this topic, let’s get down to the basics of lighting.

 Ambient Lighting

This is generally the primary source of light in the room, which can either be an overhead fixture or recessed lighting. It is the type of light that makes sure you don’t go crashing into a wall or step on a lego piece. Ambient lighting is usually brighter in the bathroom and kitchen for safety purposes. 

 Task Lighting

 Task lighting is your best buddy, not unlike the guy who points out the right answers during an examination. Forget I said that. Task lighting provides focus on a certain area to facilitate your activities, such as reading, working on your laptop or pulling hairs out of your legs with a tweezer.

 Accent Lighting

 Think about a spotlight when you think about accent lighting. Its purpose in the room is decorative, unlike the two light sources mentioned above, which are very much functional. Accent lighting serves the purpose to draw attention to something, like my surgically removed tonsils which I keep preserved in a glass case. Now that we have the basics out of the spectrum, how do we apply them in our living space?

 1/ Mix and match

different lightMagic is in the air when the astute homeowner knows the right light for the right place. Source: beaconlighting

Bright lights, dim lights, hanging lights, wall lights, chandelier lights, LED lights, there are just too many! And I can’t see any of them because I am indefinitely blind.

 There is no such thing as the right lighting because any kind of lighting can be the right lighting. Sounds philosophical? Let’s take the living room as a case study. If you have an artwork that you are just dying to get your guests to talk about, then by all means, place some accent lighting to highlight it. 

 Track lighting, picture lights and wall-mounted fixtures come to mind here. Note that accent lighting should be three times brighter than the ambient lighting for maximum effect.

 Dining in the kitchen? Then choose a dimmable ambient light source. Go bright when you are having a family gathering. Go soft when you are having a romantic dinner date with your significant other.

 2/ Contra? Complement? Confusion!

Light Pokok.AsiaYou want a contra?! How about a Michelangelo painting about rovers on Mars? Source: thespruce

Naturally, you want the lighting to complement the aesthetics of the room. The overall design scheme ties up the art pieces, furniture, lighting and colours of the wall, creating a central theme. Bold homeowners who want to make a statement can create contradictions to better highlight the details of a room.

Veer from the beaten path by introducing modern ceiling lights in a room full of antiques or have an Edison bulb in a room that incorporates contemporary elements. Sounds topsy-turvy, but it works. This is the standard black with white or red with blue routine.

 3/ Size does matter

Light Pokok.AsiaGo light or go dark, I say. Source: andersonandgrant

Remember when our parents tell us that size doesn’t matter? Or when the wise man says things like, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” This is becoming more and more irrelevant to the topic.

Back to the discussion, the size of your room needs to be taken into the equation. For example, if the room is huge with plenty of head space, then ideally you will want to use a chandelier that is proportional to it. 

It would look really silly if the lighting was so puny in comparison to the room. Balance is important. If the chandelier alone is not enough to shed ambient light to the entire room, consider placing four lanterns at the four corners to aid with light distribution.

As a general rule of thumb, it takes 20 lumens per square foot to create adequate ambient lighting. So a 200 sq ft room should take around 4,000 lumens. Maths! I hate maths. I flunked maths. All maths teachers are crazy.


Light Pokok.AsiaFeast your eyes upon these giant glass bulbs. Source: H&M Home

All the beautiful lights

Your home is well illuminated, not too harsh to disturb the senses, but just right to inspire all the positive emotions and inspirations associated with an exemplary lighting system.

And what’s more, you are not wearing an eye patch like me. But I am not complaining. I always wanted to be a pirate, and now I do not need to find an excuse to be one. Care to join me? All you need to do is ignore the lessons in this article. It is that simple. 

Looking for more related article? Check them out here:

Using antiques in your home: A beginner’s guide

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