Just like paying attention to paint colors and furniture in a room, one also needs to pay attention while adding natural or artificial sources of light to a surrounding. If you understand lighting design basics properly, then you can render an area with an ambiance which looks bright, clean, and spacious for daytime use or hazy and little romantic for evening parties.
The Lighting System
It will be good if you understand about the lighting system, though mostly these principles are applied for adding light on a subject in photography or used for illuminating a scene or character in 3D. Understanding this system can help you create visual accents in your house. For creating the lighting system, three things are required, which is the key light, the fill light, and the backlight. Key light is the main source of light, which can be Sun, the fill light is additional light used to soften the shadows, and there is backlight which separates the subject from the background. For example, consider there is a vase kept in a room, which is getting natural key light from the right window, and additional electric (fill light) on the vase's left side which soften the vase's shadow. Finally, you have put an additional smaller light (backlight) behind the vase to separate it from the background. This way you can illuminate artifacts, antics, or certain special decorative items in your home.
Selecting Natural and Artificial Light
The quality and quantity of light coming inside a room should be controlled with a good natural light source. If you have east-facing windows, you will get bright early morning light followed by long shadows and no sun after the noon, then use artificial lights to control glare and maximize available natural light in east and north-facing rooms. West-facing rooms get hot sunlight during the day which can cause glare. North-facing rooms get cold and harsh light rather than direct sunlight. South-facing windows are good as they give warm light all day long. For lighting various rooms use recessed or ceiling-hanging light fixtures.
Sketching Out a Plan
If you are building a new home or planning major renovation of the house then make the light plan at the same time you are making your plumbing plan. It is important that you treat each room of the house individually. Consider the age of the people who are going to be living in the room and consider the main source of light in the room. For example, the light source when a person is watching TV or studying on their desk, etc. Make sure the rooms according to their purpose are well-lit, bedrooms can have soft light entering through them, while the living room and kitchen need bright light. This way mark out the sockets in the individual room, source of natural light, and place for light fixtures to illuminate certain objects in a room. Also, plan out how many bright-voltage and low-voltage lights you need for home and outdoor lighting. Make sure you carry the plan with you when shopping for electric basic lights and fixtures.
Residential Lighting Ideas
South-facing windows are perfect for kitchen as they provide light all day long. The kitchen space should be bright so that it looks clean and you can see small cutlery easily. Small but powerful ceiling lights are a good idea for kitchen lighting. They will distribute equal and bright light. Also you can install mini-fluorescent lights underneath wall units to illuminate your work surface better.
While lighting a living room, first consider the practical aspects and then use additional light fixtures to accent objects in the living room. If you have placed your TV in the living room, then the light should be on the side of the TV, as light coming from the front of the TV can produce a glare on the screen, while light behind the TV can make the room dark which will strain your eyes. If you like to read in the room, then place the light behind and above the chair or sofa. Use special light fixtures to illuminate your book shelves, or a painting, an artifact, etc. For living room decoration you can hang colorful lamps above the sofa to create a beautiful ambiance.
For bedroom you need to create lighting which is soft, so that you can relax and sleep. But it should also be bright enough so that it allows you to look when you are changing clothes in the morning. Install bed side lights which can be lamps or wall-mounted lights. When lights are on both sides of the bed, one person can switch off his/her side to sleep and other person keep his light on to read. Install main light switch near the door, so that you can switch it on when entering the room. Install fluorescent lights inside the wardrobe which switch on when you open the wardrobe and switch off when you close the wardrobe. Set up horizontally-mounted white lights on both side of the dressing mirror, so that you don't see shadows on your face.
Outdoor lighting should be such that it illuminates the surroundings properly so that you can walk around it easily. However, it should not be so bright that it creates glares. To create well-balanced lighting you need a combination of standard and low-voltage lights. You can use path lights to produce a wide and downward spread of light. You can use floodlights for the yard and use lantern type of lights to illuminate paths. Positioning of the lights is very important, make sure you position the lights in such way that they are 2 feet above the ground and are of low-voltage. You can also use low-voltage down lights to accentuate certain items like a waterfall or an artifact. You can also position a floodlight or spotlight at a fence or wall, which is close to the plants to accent their silhouette.
These were the lighting basics and various ideas to illuminate indoors, outdoors, and create a beautiful but practically-lit space. So, use the above ideas to create bright and beautifully-lit home space!