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Lighting

Jeff Stock says to consider lighting to maximize space and highlight decor.

A new year often brings new pieces into your home’s décor – a new sofa replaces a worn, tired one, or a new flat screen replaces the thick television on the wheeled cart. Sometimes a room is repurposed with a nook devoted to reading, or a new dining room table is added that’s a different shape, or maybe longer or higher than the last. No matter what’s added, the right lighting will highlight the form and maximize the function of your new piece.

Lighting a Dining Room Table

Chandeliers are a natural choice over a table. Chandeliers, whether their arms drip with crystals or glisten in sleek chrome, make a statement. Style is important when choosing a chandelier. If your decor is French country, then you may want to opt for a chandelier that has a smooth, modern look. Sometimes unexpected combinations of style are more interesting, such as a rustic chandelier mixed with modern pieces.

When shopping for a chandelier, know your table’s height and width, the ceiling height, and the approximate room size. Your fixture should sit 30”-34” over your table, but this distance can extend to 36”-40” if your ceiling height is more than 8 feet. For the sake of your head, the fixture itself should not hang within 6” from the table’s edge. If your room is small (10’x10’), you’ll need a fixture that’s under 20” in diameter or it will overwhelm the room.

The table’s shape also matters when selecting a chandelier. A 5’-round table would mandate the chandelier no more than 20” in diameter, while oval and rectangular tables can handle wider fixtures. If your table is 6’ long or longer, you should choose a linear fixture, or two smaller round ones spaced evenly along its length. If the table is very long, even two linear chandeliers could be justified.

Pendants are another option over a dining room table. The best bulbs for pendants over a table are silver bowl bulbs as they protect eyes from glare. The best pendant light for casting light both up towards the ceiling and down towards the table is a drum pendant.

Whatever fixture you choose, remember to center it over the table, not in the room.

Lighting a Flat Screen

Before hanging that new flat screen, consider installing bias lighting. Overhead lights, or even table lamps, can create glare and reflections on the screen, but watching television the dark strains your eyes. This strain can cause headaches, dry eyes and even dizziness. Bias lighting alleviates strain. Bias lighting backlights your television, illuminating the wall or surface behind it, raising the ambient light and reducing eye strain. Not only that, but because of the way our eyes take in light, bias lighting also enhances the quality of the image perceived.

Bias lighting can be added to any television using kits that range in price from $10 to $100. These kits plug into the USB port and attach to the back of the television. When purchasing one of these kits, look for one with a cool light (around 6500 Kelvin). Besides a kit, another option is to install LED strip lights or a smart bulb behind your television and place it on a dimmer. This will allow you to adjust the color and brightness to a level best suited for your eyes.

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Lighting a New Workstation

Whether it’s reading or crafting, tying flies or working at a new desk, task light is foremost. Detailed tasks require high contrasting cool light. The right bulb for task lighting is one in the 1000-1400 Lumen range for brightness, and the 5000-6000 Kelvin range for temperature.

If you’re working at or beside a desk or table, a desk lamp with an adjustable neck may be the best solution. Some desk lamps allow you to adjust the brightness level and color temperature for different users – the eyes of a 60-year-old requiring a more intense, cooler light than those of a 20-year-old.

If space is limited, ceiling mounted track lighting with adjustable heads that spotlight a work area or wall mounted swing-arm lamps are nice choices.

Seeing Straight

No matter what light you’re pairing with your new décor, glare can be an issue. If you’re having difficulty with glare, lower the temperature of the bulb to a warmer color, or reduce its brightness by purchasing one with lower lumens. Also, an opaque shade on a fixture or lamp goes a long way towards managing glare.

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