Show off your rooms, and yourself, to the best advantage

In a recent interview for Elle Décor, interior designer Kelly Wearstler was asked: What are your three must-haves? Her answer: “A great piece of art that means something to you, a piece of jewelry you’ll keep forever and a terrific light fixture.”

Well used, interior lighting elevates a room’s design — creating drama, adding interest, even changing its mood.

Quick Tip

Expansive vs. Intimate

You can make a room feel smaller or larger with light. As home accessory manufacturer Uttermost advises: “Washing the four walls of a room with soft light, combined with a light toned paint, can create the effect of a larger room. Conversely, a large room illuminated with a few soft pools of light … can feel smaller and more intimate.”

5 interior lighting tips

According to the American Lighting Association, three basic types of lighting work together in a home:

1 Ambient (general lighting) provides overall illumination, radiating a comfortable level of brightness without glare.

2 Task lighting helps you perform specific actions — reading, cooking, applying makeup.

3 Accent adds drama to a room and can draw the eye to focal points.

Design experts at HGTV add two more:

4 Aesthetic, or decorative, lights can in themselves be works of art, such as a neon sculpture or vintage candelabra.

5 Natural light changes and moves with time, season and weather. Sunlight, candlelight and firelight are examples.

Interior lighting with natural and accent lighting

This space, which gets ample natural light during the day, layers sconces, stair lights and a chandelier.

Illuminating Advice

Designers agree that a good lighting plan combines all types — ambient, task, accent and so on — to serve both function and style. Here are a few tips from the gurus:

Ample ambience

“Design Star” judge Vern Yip said in an interview with HGTV Magazine: “Over a long table, try two chandeliers instead of one. I prefer two of the same, each with a diameter about a third of the table’s width. If your table is extra-long, you can try three.”

Taken to task

Media magnate and TV personality Martha Stewart discussed lighting with the “Today Show”: “Illuminate your work surface. Countertops are often hidden in shadows. Undercabinet or undershelf lighting brightens those areas.”

Reveal your diva

Potter, designer, author and personality Jonathan Adler writes on his blog: “Every house needs more lamps always. I believe in lots of light sources and very dim bulbs. This is very, very important for us as we age. More lamps and less watts = Diva Lighting.”

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