Windows Mean Better Light....Right?

October 01, 2016

Windows mean better light…right? Well, not always. The light provided by the sun can be bounteous, no doubt. But sometimes it is just too much.

A couple came in the store and asked for help. They had a paneled den with only one window in the room. They had done everything they could think of to make sure that the window was unobstructed, including cutting down a tree that was shading that side of the house. They figured that the more light they could get through that window, the better it would be. But they still could not get enough light in the room to see well. The solution shocked them. “First, we need to shade the window.” What? Shade the window? There is not an artificial light source on the planet that can compete with the sun. That unobstructed window provided a single spot in the room with incredibly intense light, and resultant glare. Eyes adapt to the brightest spot, pupils restricting. With the pupils closed down, more light is required to see with any level of clarity. Once the raging window is tamed, build a lighting system that addresses every lighting need in the room, each source fulfilling its task, and each contributing to an overall sense of well-lit well-being. From recessed lights in the ceiling, to art lighting (either ceiling or frame mounted), to lamp light, to book case lighting, to light-as-art installations...every single source can contribute to the goal: an exciting room with balanced, dramatic lighting.

Another fun thing to do in lighting a room is to explore unexpected placement. A light strip attached to the back side of a cabinet on which a television sits emanates a soft glow rising up from behind the TV. Both simple and lovely. Lit pictures hung on the vertical dividers of a book case provide unexpected excitement and a good reason to throw light against the bookcases without making the books the main event. Battery operated LED candles in an otherwise darkened fireplace turn a dark hole into an architectural feature. Candlestick lamps on a mantel can help light artwork or a mirror over the fireplace. And do not forget the miniature lamps. They can tuck in so many places: in a bookcase, on a kitchen counter under the upper cabinets, on a secretary, on a high dresser, on a bathroom vanity...find places to use lights that contribute to the décor, but also bring increased light to the space. As recommended previously, look for excuses for light, and make sure that everything done brings a smile to your face. Lighting should help create a happy environment, one that elicits a deep sigh every evening after a long day of slaying dragons.