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a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation


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Lighten Up 
make the most of your 
artificial lighting
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Ask any artist and they’ll tell you this: never underestimate the importance of lighting. The right lighting can make a big space look intimate rather than coldly cavernous, a small space airily cozy rather than cramped; it can transform a completely ordinary place into a moodily evocative space. Poor lighting, on the other hand, renders the most beautifully decorated room flatly uninviting. The good news, for those of us on tight budgets, is that great lighting can very easily be achieved without a hefty monetary investment. The right placement, and a solid sense of the disadvantages and advantages of various types of lighting, make all the difference in the world.

The key word to keep in mind when designing lighting: versatility. If many of the rooms in your house or apartment serve multiple functions – in my case, the living room is also the dining room and the reading room, as well as the entertaining room – this will be especially true. Different situations call for different lighting. If you’re trying to clean, you’ll want as much general overhead lighting as possible, so you can make sure you hit every nook and cranny with that dustcloth. When you’re reading a book, on the other hand, you’ll need brightly focused light, to illuminate your pages and avoid eyestrain. And if you’re throwing a romantic dinner for two, you’ll want soft, flattering lighting that helps you and your date look your best, creating an appropriately romantic atmosphere.

Artificial lighting basically falls into three main categories: 1) general ambient lighting (moderately bright, diffuse, covers a large area); 2) task/spot lighting (very bright, focused, direct, covers a small area); 3) mood lighting (soft, dim, diffuse, covers a small area). Most rooms will require a combination of these three types of lighting, to allow you the flexibility to adjust lighting levels to suit the many activities that take place in a given room.

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