Tips for Using Uplight and Downlight Fixtures

When considering a large scale room change – whether it is a compete re-paint, a furniture overhaul or even knocking down a wall to co-join two adjacent rooms; most people have a pretty clear idea in their heads about how they want their final room to look. So a lot of focus is placed on shelving, room function, paint colors and furniture styling. Perhaps a feng shui expert is even called in for a consultation. But in prepping a room for its ultimate function and look, most people place the idea of ‘room lighting’ at the bottom of the ‘to do or to get list’. Why?

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Good light is imperative for making a painting look great on a wall. It is important for when one is preparing food in a kitchen. It is much preferred by those who apply makeup each morning in the bath area. It is necessary when one needs to enter the darkened basement to check the furnace or hot water heater. Correct lighting can help to create a dynamic room effect. Poor lighting will dull and darken an environment, and can cause an otherwise wonderfully decorated room to appear – dreary.

By thinking ahead on what parts of a room need to be lit for functionality sake, but also where any supporting light should be, it will make a huge difference in how the room ultimately appears. Here are a few tips for using uplight and downlight fixtures:

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Lighting Areas with Glossy Finishes

Many people nowadays, prefer doing everything themselves. For DYIers, there can be great thrill in taking full ownership of manifesting one’s inner creativity by designing a room’s features from start to finish. But there’s often more to interior decorating than meets the eye. For instance, if several of your table or fixture surfaces are highly reflective; such as chrome, glass or glossy granites; then extremely bright LED down lighting may cause harsh glare spots that are exceptionally hard on the eyes. When working with glossy surfaces, by employing uplighting, especially when bounced off a bright white ceiling; the light will be diffused sufficiently enough to allow room brightness – sans harsh surface glare.

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Properly Lighting Ultra-Dark Environments

Perhaps one’s personal taste lies in the area of rich, dark wood grains and deep maroon velvety surfaces, reflective of old world décor. A preference then might be for a grandly styled center hanging chandelier over an impeccably decorated dining table. Quite often, those who prefer the darker spectrum of home décor also tend to prefer subtle lighting as well. In this case, using a downlight chandelier might cause too much light to shower directly over a guest’s head. Crystal glasses, chrome serving ware and silverware can cause a cacophony of reflective glare. Uplight chandeliers with brighter bulbs, and a dimmer will enable a room to not only be well lit when needed, but will also allow for a certain subtle ambience, when dimmer light for dinner guests is preferred.

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Lighting the Bath Mirror Area

Bathroom vanity fixtures are generally installed pointing down for good reason – to illuminate a face in the mirror. But that doesn’t mean that every bath area must have downward facing vanity lights. Most people point the mirrored lights down because pointing bright spots at the ceiling does nothing to create any sense of additional ambience. But sometimes, when installed correctly, an uplight fixture can bounce the light off the ceiling to help to diffuse a mirrored area in general, causing a lovely supportive lighting effect. And sometimes, straight down lighting pointed directly in front of one’s face in the mirror can also cast shadows that are not only non-flattering, but also hinder full facial visibility when needed. In this case, pointing an uplight wall sconce, on the wall closest to the down lit mirror can help minimize or entirely eliminate the shadow effect. While there is no hard and fast rule to lighting any room, the important thing is to figure out how to position the lighting for the appropriate room tasks. Sometimes all that is required is a little experimentation prior to installation.

Changing bulb values (temperature and wattage) can make a huge difference when the lighting appears too bright or harsh. Uplight vanities can be quite flattering, however, if not bright enough – one might consider using CFL’s or LED’s. But in a bath area where the lights are switched on and off fairly often by many family members, incandescents in the long run, are the most cost efficient bulbs to use, as CFL’s are less suited for short on/off bursts.

In summary: if you want a room with overall great lighting, ambient lighting, task lighting or with dimming ability, then you must plan for it – just like when measuring out the appropriate space size before buying the new bed, or choosing complimentary color combinations, before you purchase the paint. A little bit of forethought in the planning stages will net success and help to prevent common and costly mistakes reflective of beginner DYIer efforts.

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