We’ve all experienced the allure of an elegantly lit room. Those dimly lit restaurants feel somehow grander and more exclusive than those with the lights turned on full tilt. With the lights set just so, your eyes are more likely to pick up on the artwork on the walls, the texture of the upholstery and even little things like the architecture of the ceiling.
It’s completely possible to evoke a similar feeling in your own home. The key is choosing the proper bulbs (or lamps as they are called in the lighting industry), positioning them properly and setting them to the appropriate intensity levels. It’s not an easy thing to do, which is why you might want to consider hiring a professional lighting designer for your next project.
Rosemarie Allaire of RALD in Dana Point, Calif., gave me the low-down on the art of lighting design during a recent telephone interview.
Q: What services does a lighting designer provide?
RALD provides a lighting layout, which includes the location of the fixtures, installation details, lamp type, wattages, and fixture specifications. I typically do not specify the decorative light fixtures. This is a very subjective process and therefore should be selected by the owner or interior designer. I am strictly a consultant, so the purchase and installation is provided by an electrical contractor.
What do you discuss with your clients before putting together a design?
I get an idea of the function and architecture of the space first. I recommend options available to the client. We discuss different types of lamps (bulbs), types of fixtures and lighting distributions, such as uplighting, accent lighting, and ambient lighting.
How can homeowners help during the process?
Through disclosure. The more information they share the more effective I can be at my job. A lack of disclosure is like driving without a map. The better the map, the quicker you are at getting there. It also helps if the homeowner is a good decision maker.
What are some of the other variables that can impact your design?
Ultimately what dictates the final lighting layout is the architecture and construction of the house. Many things can change during construction. There are many details that I pick up on during the construction process that vary from the initial lighting design. For example, if a door swing changes then the keypad is relocated, or if a beam or HVAC duct is in the way, lights are repositioned. Often I’ll tweak the design to conform to the architectural interior. I can make those decisions on my own, but I prefer that the homeowner is involved so they are aware and kept informed all the way up to the end of the project when I aim and focus the lights.