If your home is feeling a little lackluster and seems dull, add some sparkle with the right light fixtures.
The right choice depends on your needs and the area served. Lighting falls into two groups: indirect (ambient) and direct (accent or task). The former sets a mood, and the latter spotlights centers of interest, or focuses on work surfaces.
Chandeliers are excellent sources of indirect light and help create the illusion of more space. They can also add a touch of glamour to any room, not just the dining room. Choose track, pendant or recessed lights for areas that need more direct light.
Wall sconces are perfect for areas where space is at a premium. Downlights, which direct light to the floor and uplights, which throw light towards the ceiling, are the two basic types of sconces. In general, downlights act as direct lighting in hallways and stairs, while uplights lend ambient light for background illumination.
When you calculate how much light you will need, figure one watt of light for each square foot of space. Double the figure for kitchens and work areas. Pay close attention to the wattage limits for each fixture.
Buy lighting fixtures close to home so you can 'try them on' and return them if necessary. Make sure that the fixture you choose will fit any special mountings already in place in your home. If changes are needed, call in the electrician.
Halogen bulbs emit a pure white light and last longer than incandescent bulbs while using less wattage. Halogen bulbs generate a great deal of heat and can be a potential hazard if a bulb comes into contact with papers, curtains or bedding. For this reason, halogen desk lamps are not a good choice in kids' rooms. Many universities, in fact, ban the use of halogen lighting in dormitories.
Make sure that every lamp and fixture you choose has passed the Underwriters Laboratories inspection. You will see a prominent 'UL' on the label, usually on the cord or base of the lamp or fixture. If there is no 'UL,' don't buy it. Choose the right kind of lighting for each area of your home and you'll be light years ahead in comfort and decor!
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