Lighting Can Make The Room

cindy beyer revised

This is a sponsored column by Cindy Beyer, ASID,NCIDQ. Beyer is a Reston-based interior designer and Reston Now Best Reston Business Award winner. Find her online at

I want to thank Andrew for prompting me to write about this next subject: Lighting

Most homes do not have sufficient lighting. Lighting is often overlooked or sparingly placed. When this happens, it can result in a lack of functional use for areas within the home. Do not let this discourage you, for in most cases, lighting can be added to fit your functional needs. There are several types of lighting: ambient, task and accent.

General lighting is defined as ambient lighting that provides an area with overall illumination. These effects are achieved with fixtures such as recessed fixtures, wall mounted fixtures, tracks, chandeliers, sconces, etc. A recessed down light, also called pot lighting in Canadian English or called a can light canister, is a fixture installed in a hollow opening in the ceiling.

These fixtures can take a floodlight type of a bulb or a spot light type of a bulb. There are several types of recessed light fixtures such as IC (when in contact with insulation), non IC, IC remodel and non IC remodel. A good contractor or electrician should know which type of fixture to use.

Task lighting is used to light a specific task such as kitchen work, office work, sewing, etc. I always specify task lighting under the kitchen cabinets, cabinets in an office as well as a laundry room. Desk lamps and table lamps are also considered task, but can be decorative as well.  In most rooms here there are no recessed ceilings fixtures lamps are used as a task and also as general light.

Accent lighting is usually used to highlight key objects and focal points in the space. It can take the form as track lighting which is highly versatile and can be moved and fixtures changed as needed. It can also be recessed as small spots aimed at a particular object. Wall-mounted fixtures can also be placed above a picture. Where there is no electrical outlet, I use a battery-operated LED fixture.

When working with clients on a renovation, I will draw up an electrical or reflective ceiling plan with all placements of fixture types and switching for the room. I specify dimmers on most of my fixtures, which allows flexibility for the use of the space. Once the ceiling plan is complete, we pick the fixture for the type of lighting we need. These can also be decorative fixtures such as chandeliers, wall sconces, ceiling mounted as well as bathroom lighting. A good lighting plan can really add value to your home.

If you need help with your lighting needs, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or visit me on my website

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