Published at Thursday, November 23rd 2017, 05:00:20 AM by Erma Newman. Living Room
Use different kinds of light to illuminate your living room and create an inviting atmosphere. Homeowners spend lots of time choosing a sofa or paint color for their living room walls, but often forget about the importance of proper lighting. In a space where you watch TV, read books, play games and entertain guests, lighting serves an important purpose in both the function and look of the room. "Lighting is important because of the intimacy it creates," says interior and lighting designer Linda Allen of Linda Allen Designs. "Since living rooms are usually one of the first rooms you walk into, it sets the tone for the rest of the house." Texture and neutral colors help make this living room the ideal spot for relaxing and entertaining. A good living room lighting scheme uses different kinds of light, set at different levels, that work together to make the space warm and attractive. Allen says if you want people to linger, use dimmers that allow you to control the level of light to suit the activities that take place in the space. Take advantage of the newer, more energy-efficient lighting solutions for residential use, suggests Mary Beth Gotti, manager of the GE Lighting Institute. "Ten years ago you wouldn‘t have seen nearly as many halogen fixtures, and LEDs are definitely one of the newest options," says Gotti. "Lighting can be magical. You can go online or visit your local lighting showroom and learn about the new light sources and colors now available." When you want to highlight certain features in your living room, like a fireplace, textured walls or a favorite painting, accent lighting is the way to go. Recessed, adjustable lights directed to points of interest or under-cabinet lighting in a display case that highlights selected objects are examples of accent lighting. "Accent lighting adds a pleasing variation of brightness," says Gotti. "You are drawing attention and putting more light on an architectural feature." In order for accent lighting to work, it needs to supply about five times as much light on the focal point as the surrounding general light. Although the overall style of the workspace is traditional, Alex was able to bring a touch of his classic, modern style into the room with a smoked glass pendant light centered above the Chinese farmhouse table. Stylish chandeliers, ceiling lights, wall-mounted fixtures or portable lamps can provide the ambiance that casts a warm glow in your living room. It controls glare and provides the general illumination that makes the living room feel comfortable and inviting. "As a lighting designer, when I am creating ambient light I am creating an effect," says Allen, who likes to use ambient light when she wants to illuminate a surface but not see where the light source comes from. Since this type of lighting affects the overall quality of light in the room and tends to be used the most, Gotti says this is where you want to use your energy-efficient When you want to create interest and add sparkle to your living room, table lamps, hanging pendants and chandeliers can provide the decorative light that adds coziness and intimacy. "It personalizes a space," says Allen. "I always say it‘s like wearing a great pair of earrings to complete an outfit." When you want to read a book or need to write at a desk, good task lighting helps you get things done. This brighter light can be a floor lamp with a swinging arm next to a comfortable chair, or a directed light source over a desk. "These are not the lights you use all the time — they are only to be used when you are doing a task, like reading or writing," says Allen. A more localized type of lighting, positioning is especially important. Portable table lamps allow for flexibility when furniture is moved.
Use smart strategies to make your small living room feel larger. When carefully planned, a small living room can be both attractive and user-friendly. When you take the time to consider your storage needs and daily lifestyle, you can create a small but smart living room that increases the enjoyment of your home. "Make sure the furniture you choose for your small living room is appropriate for the space," says eco-friendly designer Robin Wilson, CEO of Robin Wilson Home of New York City. "For example, avoid sofas with skirts. You want to go for furniture raised off the floor." A tall lamp that draws your eye up and adds height to the room or a stylish chair with a pop of color or interesting back are other tools Wilson likes to use to make a small living room feel larger and give it personality. Other simple ideas, like going for a space-saving flat-screen TV or a laptop that hides out of the way instead of a stationary desktop computer, keep the area free from clutter and allow traffic flow in and out of the room. But try to resist the urge to use only small pieces in your small living room. Instead, consider an oversized chair that gives unexpected scale to the space, suggests San Francisco interior designer Jonathan Rachman. "Oversized wall art also expands the room," says Rachman. "Doing an accent wall color stretches and deepens the room. You can use a complementary color or something that offers contrast: You can have three walls neutral and then take that same color and use the deepest version of that color for the accent wall." Creating the illusion of more space is the way to go, believes Rachman. A great area rug can be used to mark a seating area, or you can paint a pattern, like chevron stripes, on your hardwood floor to create borders to help the room feel more spacious. And just because you have a sofa doesn‘t mean you have to have a standard coffee table. "In a small living room, you can use ottomans or stools that move out of the way when you need the space," says Rachman. "Just make sure to consider how you need that room to function and if there are any special requirements. For example, if you need a pullout sofa for guests." Think about traffic flow when you arrange furniture, but avoid placing all the pieces in one corner of the room. Also consider pulling your sofa away from the wall. This simple move gives you space to add a console table that offers open storage and a place for displaying your favorite collectibles.
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