6 Common Home Lighting Mistakes

A modern lighting fixture casting shadows on the ceiling.

Lighting is an often misunderstood component of designing and caring for a home. This is because lighting can, and should, have much more to do with décor than just illuminating a space. All too frequently, people consider lighting in their homes without acknowledging that it also has a place in home security, and the ability to make a room more cozy, romantic, or uplifting.

1. You Don't Have Task or Accent Lighting

Good lighting is much more than just general ambient lighting. It's important to use multiple sources of light in an effort to "layer." To best achieve this, add task lighting or accent lighting to a room. Accent lighting enables one to bring out focal points in a room such as an architectural feature or a piece of art. Task lighting could be a lamp situated by a desk or reading chair to give concentrated light to a small work space. Combined with general overhead lighting, these additional sources of light build warmth and coziness in a room.

2. You Don't Use a Dimmer

Dimmer switches allow you to meet varying lighting demands, whether that's creating a romantic ambiance or lighting up a room for a party. Not only do dimmers offer customization for your lighting needs, but they save energy when you don't always have the lighting on full blast.

3. Your Paint Doesn't Coordinate With Your Lighting

Lighting is an often misunderstood component of designing and caring for a home.

Consider that a bedroom, if it’s to be a warm and comfortable place, needs much more subtle lighting than a kitchen. Frequently, people overlook the color choice for a room and just choose what appeals to them. But don't forget that dark colors absorb light, while brightly colored walls reflect light. If you want a dark, cave-like bedroom, white walls may not be the best choice. Conversely, if you want to make the most of the bright lights in your kitchen, white walls could work there.

4. You Fool Your Plants Into Thinking It's Daylight

The kind of light that you use to illuminate your beautiful arbor and patio needs to be pointed downward to accent the arbor, and not be so intense as to make the plants think it's daytime -- plants need sleep, too! Consider colored lights, which tone down light intensity and accent more subtly. Also, it's not necessary to accent every bush and tree in the yard; keep the number of features you accent to a minimum. It will save you money and decrease light pollution.

5. Your Paths, Walkways, and Driveways Are Lost in the Dark

Remember to light all walkways for safety and security, including your driveway. If you wish to save money, walkways can easily be accented by a series of low-intensity, lightweight, decorative solar lamps that are placed strategically along the walkway. They require no wiring, turn on automatically with darkness, and turn off with sunrise. It's also important to light the entrance to a garage, but not with lighting that blinds the drivers. Motion-sensor lights pointed down at the garage door can be programmed to come on as the car approaches and can be programmed to shut off a few seconds or minutes later.

6. You Aren't Using Lighting for Protection

1. You Don't Have Task or Accent Lighting

Consider using separate controls for each area of your yard, along with timers, as lights that turn off with sunrise help to save energy and money. Electrical timers can also add an additional layer of security by allowing lights to come on and go off when nobody is home. Use motion-sensor lights to detect the presence of somebody who shouldn't be lurking on your property. However, keep in mind that these lights may also detect raccoons—but a nice feature of them is that they can be set to turn off after a short period.