Info & Answers
Design Tip: Get Fresh Look With New Lights
Changing the way you light your house can make a huge difference in the way it looks.
lighting options
April 29, 2008 by Lisa Montgomery

Do you feel it? It happens every year about this time. That overwhelming desire you have to spruce up your home. It’s spring fever, and the only cure is getting involved in a good home improvement project.

Our suggestion: change the lights. You don’t have to go crazy. Choose a room that could use a little pick-me-up then swap the traditional switches for ones that’ll let you dim the fixtures. Dimmer switches are very affordable and easy to install. But the best thing about them is the amazing visual impact they can have on a room.

By using a dimmer, you can adjust the intensity of the lights to achieve a variety of effects for your chosen space. Lights set at a 25 percent intensity level, for example, can make the room look soft and romantic. Raise the level to 75, and the space transforms into a cool, sophisticated area for entertaining guests.

Each circuit of lighting can be set differently, enabling you to draw attention to certain parts of the room. For example, you could have the lights above the coffee table at 90 percent to showcase a floral arrangement while the rest of the lights are at 50 percent. During a party you could keep the overhead fixtures low and the wall sconces high to accentuate the artwork on the walls. If the room is large and used for many purposes, you could use the dimmers to illuminate only the portions of the room that you intend to use.

It’ll take some experimentation to get the settings just right. Even when you think you’ve got it down pat, you’ll probably still spend a bit of time fiddling with the switches.

The quickest way to get to the settings you like is with a programmable light switch, commonly called a lighting keypad. Instead of a knob or a toggle, this type of switch has buttons. Each button can be programmed to arrange the settings of a certain group of lights.

Those settings are completely up to you. For example, if you’ve found that keeping the recessed fixtures at 40 percent, the wall sconces at 70 percent and the table lamps at 10 percent creates a good atmosphere for entertaining, you could commit these settings to a button labeled party on the keypad. Now, each time you press the party button, those lights go to those settings automatically. The settings programmed into the keypad can be modified at any time to play up new features in the room.

You’ll be able to keep the room looking fresh whenever the fever hits.

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Lisa Montgomery - Contributing Writer
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.

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