With an increasing number of people working remotely from home and more children participating in virtual learning, the way we utilize the spaces in our homes has definitely changed this year. Pairing that with the shorter daylight hours of the winter months, good lighting at home is more important than ever. We’ve asked Charleston-based Tish Mills of Tish Mills Interiors to share her best tips on utilizing lighting in the most beautiful and functional ways.
When you start on a home project, how do you begin to think about lighting?
Lighting is one of the first items to look at for a new home. Get the furniture flow and plan developed, then look at what areas to highlight, meaning to light really well. It’s good to have some shadowy areas, or negative space, as it helps to control how people navigate through a home and its use. Next look at each room, considering how will it be used and what the mix of task and ambient lighting should be. Once chandeliers are installed, then think about adding some of the “star” or special fixtures. Consider where they need to serve as the exclamation point for a room. Always use dimmers on all chandeliers and recessed cans, so that in different times of day and evening the light can be controlled. I recommend using 3000k bulbs for recessed cans as it gives off the closest to natural lighting within a space.
When do you use natural lighting?
Use natural lighting whenever possible. When I walk into a house and see plantation shutters blocking light, the first thing I do is recommend taking them out. Mother Nature knows her stuff when it comes to lighting. I let her take the lead and we support from there.
What is important to keep in mind for entryway lighting? When do you use chandeliers versus recessed lighting?
I typically use a mixture of both. In large homes the entry and the foyers tend to be large have a lot of depth. This is the perfect place for a mixture of lighting. I like the look of a fantastic chandelier that sets the stage for the feel of the home, coupled with recessed lighting and a lamp on the entry console.
In the dining room, should the ceiling lighting be making a statement, or should it blend into the space?
Ceiling lighting should be the star of the space. Do take into account the amount of light needed for evening versus day time. Having everything on a dimmer makes for easy control. The lighting you would want for a dinner party is different from what you would use for a cocktail party with a buffet set up on the dining table. For the ceiling lights, use recessed cans to blend into the ceiling, allowing the chandelier to be the statement for the space.
For living rooms that have more than one seating area do you combine floor, recessed, and table lights? When are sconces important to use?
Remember that a lot activities can happen in a living room. It is all about the blend of lighting and options for how a multi-seating arrangement is being used. There are times that sconces above a fireplace work well, but not often. It does tend to limit the artwork size if you go that way. You can use table or task lighting by couches on end tables and recessed cans to direct other lighting as well.
How do you layer lighting, and do you try to use lighting to create shadows and moods?
Absolutely. It is one of the first things we work on within a home. Shadows direct how the eye moves through a space. Think of how your eye moves across a billboard advertisement. It is very controlled by the layout. The way you light a room is very similar. It is important to think about not only the space within the room but how you want people’s eyes to move through it as well.
With many people working from home, there is a greater need for spaces that can be used for home offices and study spaces for virtual learning. What kind of lighting makes the best task lighting?
One of the most important things to keep in mind with task lighting is the temperature of the bulbs. I recommend using 60-watt bulbs because they aren’t glaringly bright nor do they distort colors.
When it comes to bedside and reading lights, how high should the light be in relation to the nightstand?
Mount reading lights between 24-30” above the nightstand depending upon the nightstand height and ceiling height. I love reading lights for the direct light they provide without having to light an entire room in the evening.
May your homes be filled with light and holiday cheer this winter!
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