By Barbara Hobbs
Nothing is as appealing as a home enhanced with outdoor lighting, whether spotlighting architectural features or drawing attention to landscaping elements. Indoor lighting adds greatly to the uniqueness and appeal of a home, whether viewed through its windows or enjoyed from the interior. Its functionality and style complete the builder’s design in a way that adds to the value and the charm of the home.
Good lighting design is effective
The tone of a room is achieved with ambient lighting like ceiling fixtures or recessed lighting. Positioning recessed lighting around the perimeter of a room makes it look bigger and is easily controlled by dimmers to accommodate the mood or needs of the homeowner. Accent lighting is often included to focus on artwork or architectural features. Task lighting is concentrated in work areas like kitchens, offices or bathrooms.
Since home décor is an expression of the homeowner’s personality, style is a major consideration when choosing indoor lighting. Traditional design typically includes items with dark finishes and ornate features like impressive chandeliers. Contemporary designs often include sleek track lighting, silver or nickel finishes, and simple lines. Modern design focuses more on bright colors, exposed light bulbs and bold geometric shapes, a style currently in vogue. Mary Beth Taintor, design studio manager for Robuck Homes, confirmed its popularity. “Chandeliers and kitchen pendants play an important role in setting the mood and style of any home,” said Taintor. “In today’s trends, we are seeing more geometric fixtures and a wide variety of finishes that include antique finishes with a resurgence of gold and antique brass.”
The period homes featured in Autumnwood, the Sanford development of Preservation Homes, are a perfect example of the influence of lighting fixtures on establishing the style of the house. Tom Bland, president of Preservation Homes, confirmed this. “We build bungalow and arts and crafts style homes, so most of our buyers are attracted to that architecture. Dining room chandeliers, when integrated into a design that sometimes includes authentic bungalow wainscoting, are normally the most visible lighting in a home. We feel that the best investment for a builder and our homebuyers is a dramatic dining room fixture.”
Chandeliers aren’t just for dining rooms. High ceilinged foyers are perfect locations for dramatic chandeliers. Master bedrooms and master bathrooms are frequent locations for smaller chandeliers, now available in a wide variety of styles, colors and shapes. Whether made of crystals, metals, wood or glass, chandeliers become a focal point of any room and will kick up the décor level a notch.
Lighting choices can save money
“Green homes are a major characteristic of True Homes,” stated Shaun McKay, managing partner for True Homes. “For us, being green isn’t just the latest trend or buzz word but rather, green building is at the core of our business philosophy. With our emphasis on energy efficient products that save money and conserve energy, we make use of all types of lighting that fit into this program.”
Green lighting has become popular in many homes. Compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs, are made to fill most home lighting fixtures. Although they are more costly than incandescent light bulbs, they will save money as they require less energy and last longer than traditional light bulbs. The latest trend in light bulb technology is the LED, or light emitting diode, which emits significantly less heat (which helps cut your power bill) and is much more durable than an incandescent bulb. Halogen bulbs are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and, unlike CFLs, have an instant start to a bright, intense light.
Robuck Homes employs several of these categories of lighting, according to Mary Beth Taintor. “All of the recessed lighting Robuck Homes installs today includes LED recessed bulbs,” confirmed Taintor. “CFL bulbs are used in 90% of the installed decorative fixtures. We also offer LED under-counter kitchen lighting.”
Technology has invaded the lighting field. Software programs have made it possible for homeowners to control lighting from their cell phones. No longer is it a problem returning to a dark home when you can turn on outside or interior lights from your phone. Many builders like Robuck Homes offer home automation systems that can control lighting from a smart device as well as other components in the home.
Creative lighting highlights outdoor features
It goes without saying that outdoor lighting significantly increases the curb appeal of a house and that it can be as important as the indoor lighting to the homeowner. Not only does it highlight a home after dark, but it emphasizes the design elements of the home and of the landscaping surrounding it.
Backyard lighting provides a dramatic display of outdoor entertainment areas like patios, decks, or pool areas as well of landscaping features. It also encourages late night entertainment as well as family use of patios, pools and outdoor cooking facilities.
Outdoor lighting also fills a need for safety and security around the home. Low voltage path and step lights are attractive, add to the overall look of the outdoor areas and provide a safe night time guide. Security lights, whether activated by motion detectors or by timers, provide safety and a feeling of assurance for family members after dark. Crime rates are lower for homes that are lit after dark.
Solar powered fixtures are a good choice for outdoor lighting. These lights use the latest LED technology and provide long-lasting, bright lights especially popular for gardens, paths, step lighting and architectural features.
Good community lighting is essential
Developers of planned communities know that good outdoor lighting adds to the attractiveness of a community, promotes safety after dark, and deters crime, helping increase sales and add to the appeal of the community. Homeowners are more likely to take evening walks, go jogging or walk the dog when the streets, walking paths and recreational areas are well lit.
Community light helps to set the tone or theme of a neighborhood like those of Preservation Homes, according to Tom Bland. “Period lighting, consistent with the overall architectural style of the area provides a complete look,” he states. “Well-planned lighting at the front entrance, around amenities, and down to each individual home helps to make a community stand out, and affects the long term appreciation of each home.”
Creative lighting choices make a difference
With so many lighting products in all pricing levels on the market, choosing lighting elements becomes a major component of house design. Good exterior lighting highlights a home’s style and increases the safety and security of the house and its family. Good interior lighting adds to the décor that represents the family’s personality and provides appropriate lighting in the various areas of their home. Whether building a new home or remodeling your current home, consult with your contractor about the styles, types and locations of your lighting needs.