Light can often create the mood of an entire space. Light can highlight art, create a sense of greater ceiling height, and even deceptively alter the architecture of a room.
Natural light is the most beautiful, pure type of light and should be used as much as possible. You can pierce a space with natural light by adding features like skylights and clerestory windows. If natural light is too bright in certain areas, gauzy window treatments can be installed to naturally diffuse it while still allowing light to come through.
Beyond natural light, architectural lighting—or any light source that is attached to the architecture—can enhance your space. Not only is architectural lighting aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also often crucial for wayfinding too. It can also be used to highlight doorways or landscape details.
When considering lighting, remember that one purpose of light is to guide the eye around a room. This is achieved by placing lighting at low, medium, and high levels as well as bringing in step lights, table lamps, sconces, overhead lights, and art lights. Such variation creates visual interest and enhances the architecture of a space.
When determining where overhead light will go, be careful to not oversaturate the space. If there’s an existing fixture, even a fan, replace it with something that has more than one bulb, which will bring additional light to the space. If there are no existing ceiling lights, you can install a fixture with a beautiful swag cord (a decorative extension cord) and connect it to an outlet on the wall, which is one way to incorporate an additional design element into the space.
There’s more to great lighting than the fixtures themselves. When you’re concepting a lighting scheme, keep the bulbs that you’d like to use in mind as well. Whenever possible, opt to install dimmers on your lighting, which allow you to adjust the brightness of a bulb depending on your needs (lower and moodier for a cocktail party; higher and brighter for reading). You can add dimmers to just about any light source: An electrician or handyman can swap out static wall switches for dimmers or can install dimmers on a fixture itself.
Continue building out your space design by inserting different types of lighting into your elevations/renderings. Think about using certain kinds of fixtures or bulbs in other areas around the space for continuity, be creative, and have fun!