Contemporary lighting options make any day a holidayWith all of the alternatives available for interior and exterior home lighting, shopping for some new fixtures can be an illuminating and fun experience.
By: Thomas Vaughn, for the Budgeteer
Now that Bentleyville has turned off its lights for the season, you might want to try a few new ideas for lighting around your own home as 2012 gets under way. With all of the alternatives available for interior and exterior home lighting, shopping for some new fixtures can be an illuminating and fun experience.
“I like lighting because it’s decorative and puts the finishing touches on your home. It’s the jewelry of the home,” said Sandra Blom of Ferguson Showroom, now in her fifth year as showroom manager.
Most clients visiting Ferguson Showroom come seeking advice about how to light up new construction, remodels, kitchens and bathrooms, and sometimes they’re just looking to purchase a new light fixture.
But, before heading out to the showroom, it’s important to meet safety requirements in design planning. According to Terry Larson, project engineer with Foster, Jacobs & Johnson in Duluth, changes in electrical codes now happen more frequently. Larson works with a broad array of residential clients when they plan for new interior or outdoor lighting.
“The National Electric Code gets updated about every three years now,” Larson said. “There are a lot of safety requirements that are quite a bit different than even 10 years ago. The requirements keep getting stricter as to what you can do.”
As code revisions get more stringent, lighting wholesalers are responding with products that either offer customers a more versatile instrument or allow them to choose lighting based on a specific purpose in mind.
Susan Vicklun, a showroom consultant with Ferguson Showroom, commented on this dual trend and the move toward lighting that can easily blend into differing home decors.
“Most times when people redo their lighting it’s because they don’t have enough current lighting, especially in the dining room or kitchen,” Vicklun said. “Lately, we’re seeing what we call transitional lighting. It doesn’t say ‘contemporary,’ and it doesn’t say ‘traditional.' ”
At the same time, Vicklun points out that thinking about what you’re going to be doing around or underneath the light is important because it opens up a complementary range of products.
“Ask yourself: what do you use your dining room for? If it’s purely for entertaining, a lot of customers want the lights to point upward,” Vicklun said. “Others use the room to read, play cards or other games, or help kids with homework. Then, you want the light to point downward.”
Lighting consultants frequently encourage their customers to examine their own thinking about how to light a room when they come to shop.
“If you think about your grandparents’ kitchen, there was often one light in the center of the room. Whenever you were by the stove or countertop, the lighting was behind you and cast shadows,” Vicklun said. “Now, in the kitchen, to get more task lighting, we’ll always recommend under-cabinet lighting, which puts the light exactly where you need it – onto the counter. We also do recessed lighting if the building allows access into the ceiling.” There’s also lighting that helps homeowners enjoy their outdoor surroundings when the season is right.
Zack Ludtke, manager of London Road Party Express, described some of the different approaches customers can take toward lighting up an outdoor event.
Whether the event is a romantic or social reception will influence brightness, coloration and placement of lighting. LED lights are becoming more competitive, offer a dazzling array of options, and stay cool.
“LEDs have a control box like a garage-door opener with one to nine keys,” Ludtke said. “You can choose reds, greens, blues, or intermixed, and you can set it to ‘random’ where it’ll pattern every couple of seconds at a different speed. If you’re playing music, it can go to the beat of the bass, and it’ll fluctuate on its own. Just plug it into a standard outlet, set the programming on the back and you’re set.”
With all these options and more, you can bring some holiday cheer to your home any time of year.