Let there be light

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Home lighting an important element of décor

It’s been a couple of years since 40 and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs fell out of favour – no longer manufactured or imported into Canada because they don’t meet energy-efficiency standards. This follows the ban on 75 and 100-watt bulbs a year earlier. While it’s the end of the basic bulb, there are many efficient options on the market today: halogen, compact fluorescent, LED are all able to light up our homes in style.

Some bulbs throw off a warm light. Some shine. Some burn hotter than others and some cost more. Whatever the case, there’s plenty to choose from, according to Jared Johannesen, sales manager at Park Lighting in West Edmonton. The store mostly helps customers light new construction homes, but works with renovation projects too.

“All of today’s options are more energy-efficient than the incandescent bulbs, but most people are using LED bulbs in home applications. The initial cost is higher, but the bulb lasts longer and pays for itself. And using these lights tends to steer people toward more contemporary light fixtures –industrial or Steampunk looks with exposed Edison-type filament bulbs that mix vintage with metals, or transitional mid-century modern lighting – clean-lined but with soft curves,” he said.

A look through the showroom is evidence that metals and woods are hot in lighting style with eclectic, twisted steel, brass and copper looks in oversized pendants, table and floor lighting. There’s also an abundance of crystal and ‘bling’ looks on the market, like decadent and romantic chandeliers for master bedrooms or over a dining table.

“Lighting is jewelry for the home, so it’s not surprising to see chandeliers in bedrooms, bathrooms and even to light the master closet. While crystal is waning in popularity, people still want a bit of glitz and romance in these rooms of the house, and etched glass can fit in with a contemporary or traditional dĂ©cor scheme,” added Johannesen, pointing to the trend toward one large focal lighting piece that expresses personality and leaves the rest of the home lighting neutral in style.

“You’ll see that focal point over a dining table or kitchen island. A funky piece with softer curves and colours that expresses the homeowner’s personality and adds character – transitional, modern and everything in between.”

Recent U of A grad Jordan Tomnuk is making a career creating just this sort of trend-setting lighting. You can often find him at the workshop/studio collective in Old Strathcona called Timbre. Timbre is a creative space housing industrial and graphic designers, furniture and leather makers, and more. At Timbre Tomnuk is making custom pieces plus the Lune Collection of modern pendant lights and wall sconces using contemporary solid and spun-aluminum works with suspension rods, overlapping discs and LED lights. His work is garnering attention from U.S. and Canadian clients.

“My minimalist designs transcend styles, and allow other elements to shine,” says Tomnuk, who snagged top honours at NYC’s LaunchPad Wanted Design 2016 event with his contemporary creations.

Johannesen said consumers want that ‘statement piece’ of lighting, similar to art, so he’s seeing manufacturers use more textured glass fixtures like wave patterns, seeded bubble-look glass, colours, opals, off-white, clouded and milk-look glass, and abundant use of wood, iron and other metals.

“We see a lot of mixing of metals too. No more matchy-matchy. There’s a lot of black with gold, black with chrome, black with brushed nickel, especially in accent lighting, on table lamps, etc.,” Johannesen said.

“Whatever the style, consider the scale of the room, ceiling height and furniture placement, and err on the larger side. People often choose lighting that is too small for the space. Maintain similar colour of lighting in a room too. Edmonton-area customers like warm, inviting, cozy lighting in most spaces, leaving the cool and harsh daylight colours for the laundry room.”

Lighting tips

Goodhousekeeping.com offers advice on common lighting mistakes.
• Think in layers. Overhead lighting is important, but don’t forget table and floor lamps and accent lighting to highlight a piece of art or cabinet.
• Use dimmer switches. This favourite of the design world allows you to change the mood in a room by brightening or lowering the light.
• Hang correctly-sized lights for the space, at the right height. For a chandelier, add the room’s height and width in feet. That number, in inches, should be the diameter of your chandelier. In a dining space, choose a chandelier that’s one foot smaller than the table’s narrowest width, says Goodhousekeeping.com.
• Blinded by the light? When sitting next to a table lamp, the bottom of the shade should be at shoulder height.

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About Author

Lucy Haines

Lucy Haines has been a freelancer writer for the St. Albert Gazette since 2012. She writes features on travel, food, seniors, homes and gardens.