Tips for choosing the direction of your light

Homeowners have limitless options when it comes to putting their home in the best light. Here are some basic considerations for choosing the direction of your fixtures to obtain your ideal lighting situation. 

Function and ambience
Before selecting styles of light fixtures, homeowners should first determine the purpose and vibe they want for each room. The function of the room should be the first consideration when determining what kind of lighting to have. Kitchens may need big, bright overhead lights, as visibility in this room is important both for safety and ambience. Reading rooms can get away with smaller, more cozy table lamps.

Once the function of the room is decided, you can choose what kind of atmosphere you want. There is more than one way to light up a living room. More intimate spaces may require less lighting, and the ambience of a fireplace may all but rule out track lights if they clash with your intended style. A bright kitchen is easy to achieve, but the type of fixture might mean the difference between an industrial and colonial feel.

Unique opportunities
Each home will offer its own set of parameters that make for interesting lighting opportunities. The IRIS house plan, for example, boasts a kitchen that opens out into a living space with a cathedral ceiling. Multipurpose rooms and open floor plans mean that lights can be used to connect and divide rooms how you see fit.  

However, affecting both function and ambience is the direction that the light is coming from, and in this regard, there are many options.

This is the most common form of house lighting. As the name implies, downlit fixtures shine downward. This includes high-hanging chandeliers, ceiling lights and track lighting. These lights are generally best for rooms where you want a lot of light, such as the kitchen, media rooms and living rooms. 

Downlighting is also a great opportunity to express a home's style. Ornate, French-style chandeliers create a a sense of regality. Recessed lights are minimalist installations perfect for utilitarian or modern house plans. Any style under the sun can be expressed through downlighting. 

On the other end of the light spectrum is uplighting, which is a much underutilized form of illumination inside the home. Because it shines upward, it is not good for reading or other such tasks. Rather, it is best for more intense shadow, ambience and minimal utilitarian lighting. Underlit fixtures are usually recessed lights in the floor or at the base of the wall that illuminate footpaths and stairways. They can be inserted into the tread of the stair or even the riser. Along corridors, tastefully spaced uplights can create a beautiful contrast of light and shadow as cones of light spread out across the walls. 

Walls and tables
In between downlighting and uplighting are lamps, wall lights and any other fixtures not on the ceiling or floor. Lamps are a great way of creating ambience, as the light source also serves as a piece of furniture to decorate a home. The quality of the light as well as the size and style of the lamp shade will further affect the light quality of the room. Wall sconces provide another form of illumination that can be as bold or as conservative as you like. While not great for kitchens, these lights are great anywhere from the living room to the hallway and bathroom. 

Lights in odd places
Lights don't have to brighten up a whole room, and can be installed for much smaller and specific spaces. Downlighting installed underneath cabinets in the kitchen makes for a more efficient countertop workspace. Recessed up and downlighting can light up the spines of books on a bookshelf. Door frames can also be installed with lights to create a brighter entry space.