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Lighting: Form is as important as function

With home decor, the items we use most every day, such as doors or chairs, often can be taken for granted. And so it is with lighting.

Illuminating our homes is a necessity. But there’s more to lights than just function. Looks and feel also play integral roles.

“From an aesthetic point of view, lighting we like to equate to jewelry,” said Paula Minton, general manager of Kentucky Lighting & Supply.

Minton and her staff ask customers about the style of the space.

“We want to know what are you feeling when you’re in the room,” she said. “We try to hone in on what we in the trade think of as masculine – clean, kind of boxy – and feminine – maybe more ornate with slimmer lines with a lot of high design.”

There’s an amazing array of types of lighting: table lamps, sconces, pendants and chandeliers, to name a few. To choose the best style for a room, it’s best to think about how the lights will be used.

“There’s some practical consideration like the amount of light you need for the task, the size of the room, what the use of the room is,” said Minton. “Are there tasks carried out there, or are you interested in ambient light? Do you want the fixture to be a focal point or do you want it to disappear?”

It also pays to be conscience of energy use. The American Lighting Association, a trade group representing the lighting industry in the United States and Canada, offers energy-saving lighting tips from Joe Rey-Barreau. Rey-Barreau suggests replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. For an inviting glow, choose products labeled “residential color,” “warm” or “soft white.”

For an easy fix, retro-fit recessed lighting with LED fixtures.

“You just take off part of the existing fixture, and the replacement fixture fits into the old housing,” says Rey-Barreau. “LED fixtures have a high initial cost, but the fixture will last literally the lifetime of the project.”

For more information, go to Americanlightingassoc.com.

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