It's a play of light

The varying intensity of light changes the way our home or office appears to us. Some suggestions on how to design the lighting to create a mood or enhance an interior...

LIGHT IS all around us. Varying in intensity from bright daylight, to moonlight, to cosy lamplight or to the rainbow, light lives with us during through the day and affects our moods and perception of the world. This aspect plays an important part in designing lighting for a space, be it office or home.

In a home environment, lighting would depend on the part each room plays in our life during the day — whether it is the kitchen, dining area, kitchen, bathroom or bedroom. In an office environment it is no different as the functions of a desk space vary greatly from that of a utility area of a conference room. Today, artificial light sources are designed to closely simulate natural light as we go about eating, working or relaxing in a particular space. At different times of the day.

But before we progress to light and its potential, we need to understand light and its involvement with mood. How often have you said: "It's a cold, drab rainy day", and felt low when the sky and the surroundings were tinged with shades of grey in low light? Or admired a sunset that picked up warm red and orange tones, creating a mood of cosy comfort for the evening to come? Or been awed by dramatic light as sunlight poured through the clouds in golden slivers?

When creating a mood the two key elements are the intensity and colour of light. Intensity is related to brightness and colour to temperature. Artificial sources that probably have the highest resemblance to intense yellow daylight are arc lights. Similarly fluorescent tubes recreate cool blue early morning light.

There is often a tendency to use uniform lighting all over a house. This creates monotony. We are all accustomed to the fluctuations of natural light so why should artificial light be any different? Artificial lighting schemes need to be variable so the room not only looks more interesting but also allows the eye to relax by glancing periodically from brighter to darker areas provided the contrast is carefully controlled.

For instance, yellow light has often been emotionally linked to the traditional fireside or tribal fire where friends and family got together after the day's work. Living rooms today fulfil this function and therefore, lighting in this room is often designed to create a mood of intimacy. This is done through lamplight, wall sconces, up lighters and dimmers that allow you to vary light around the room.

A simple breakdown for each room would be —

Living room: Warm evening light simulation.

Bedroom: Varied. Bright light above dressing table, side lamps for bed reading, task light for study/desk and uniform lighting for general visibility.

Work area: The home office should be treated similar to the actual office. You may need a study lamp, a light behind your computer to minimise the glare, overhead lights for paperwork, and general lighting as well.

Kitchen: Fluorescents in more than one colour — both cool and warm options are now available to help you to adjust to the natural progression of the day. These are cost effective as well in areas where you require maximum usage. You can use as many light options as you like keeping in mind the areas you wish to highlight and their function.

Dining room: Mostly natural light and warm yellow light in the evening. Reflected light from up lighters also works well.

Outdoors: There are two categories — decorative and functional. The light source should be economical as it will be used from early evening to late night. Discharge lamps such as mercury vapour lamps, motion controlled sensor lights, ordinary yellow light bulbs in decorative fittings — you have various options.

Most people who look at lighting from an economy point of view tend to fill their homes with cost effective bare tubelight, which does nothing for the actual requirement of the individuals living in the house.

Nor does it create a comfortable and cosy mood.

Light also highlights textures. So, keep that in mind when you have walls with interesting surfaces. Wall washing with down lighters brings attention to the walls you wish to bring into prominence.

After you have established the mood you wish to create and planned the light sources for each area in a room — up lighters, down lighters, spotlights, task lights, lamps, wall lights and floor lamps or pendant lamps, its time to look at fixtures.

Many people think only in terms of aesthetic appeal when choosing a light fitting. However, factors such as ease of installation, ease of maintenance, durability, portability, adjustability and economy are also important.

Last but not the least, upholstery and wall colour choices are also related to the light sources in each room. Fabrics and paint samples should ideally be observed through the day and how they appear at different times must be noted before making a final selection.

To be continued...


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