As a decorator, I'm often asked which design decisions have the biggest and longest-lasting impact — what clients still appreciate years later. There are many, but there is one that's universal: good lighting. Good lighting will not only improve your mood; it also has the potential (when placed in the right spot) to save your sanity.
Of course, good lighting will make a difference visually no matter where it's placed. However, we will start with some often-overlooked areas where the right lighting can make a huge impact.
• Closets. This has been very much on my mind lately because our home's tiny, poorly lit closets happen to bring me more stress than project deadlines or just about anything else. The other day, as I was on my hands and knees, wondering where in the world one small shoe could have gone in a 3 by 3 foot front hall closet, my daughter/genius (she's 7) piped up, "mommy, we need a light in there." Aha! Sometimes it's the smallest spaces that need the best lighting. A good light in the closet will make even an undersized one more efficient.
• Under kitchen shelves/cabinets. The closer I get to 30, the more convinced I become of the fact that task lighting in the kitchen is key. Save yourself the squint wrinkles and install a few under shelf/cabinet lights. When I remember to turn mine on, I slice like a pro. Plus, turning these on and turning off the overhead lights creates a nice ambiance. For more information check out these posts:
• Smart Solutions: Under-Cabinet Lighting
• Minimal & Efficient: Use LEDs for Under Cabinet Lighting
• The Entry/Landing strip. It's the first place your guests see when they enter your home, and the spot where you probably need the best organization as you dart out the door (hopefully with your easily accessible keys and phone). A warm light here sets a welcoming tone and makes your daily exit all the easier.
• Bathrooms.This should go without saying, right? Well, I can tell you that it needs to be said as often as possible, because more than half the homes I work in have terrible lighting in the bathrooms. Ideally, you should use a mix of diffused lights. I like halogen for vanity lights and incandescent for overhead. The light should be soft enough to be flattering, but not so dim that you can't apply makeup easily.
(Image: David & John's Deco Meets Modern )