By Gene and Katie Hamilton
Good lighting in a home makes every room more comfortable and convenient to live in. Whether you’re reading the ingredients of a recipe or enjoying a story book with a toddler, lighting is important for every age family member. Good lighting can prevent an accident like falling down a staircase where you miss a step or tripping on something. Proper illumination throughout a home will make it a better and safer place for everyone.
As a Fellow of the Ageboom Academy in 2012 I visited the Hebrew Home in Riverale, New York. Patricia Rizzo of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute told us that eyesight deteriorates in everyone beginning in your mid-forties so most any age family member will benefit from good lighting in their home. Rizzo was involved designing the lighting at the new residential Low Vision Center at the Hebrew Home where Robin Dessel is director of Memory Care Services. Dessel said they used lighting as a silent element to create an overall feeling of brightness so residents could see better which would make them feel more comfortable and at ease in the residence. They incorporated low matte finishes on surfaces - walls, flooring and furnishings - to prevent glare and used concealed linear fluorescents to line the walls to create a comfort zone for the residents.
To create that same comfort zone in your home think of lighting as an important element beginning by using sunlight to an advantage. Allow as much natural lighting into your home by opening curtains and draperies and pull up window shades. Notice where family members spend their time reading - sitting in an armchair, laying in bed or lounging on the sofa - and increase lighting with floor and table lamps where needed. Choose CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) or LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs which have a longer life and are more energy efficient.
Designers tell us that one single lighting fixture in a room is not enough, a room needs a combination of direct and indirect lighting. In the kitchen add lighting under cabinets, especially those where food is prepared so cutting and measuring areas are well lit. Take note of stairways and add lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs with switches to operate them. Outside increase lighting at the front and rear entrances and along dark walkways and include motion sensors to guide the way.
Today’s lighting products have evolved and are designed to meet the diverse and specialized needs of lighting a home. Walk into any home or lighting center and you’ll find walls of fixtures, devices, dimmers, switches, timers, and occupancy sensors. For example, a dimmer that smoothly fades the lighting in a room so your eyes can adjust is convenient for every member of a family; so is an easy to operate rocker switch that slides up and down.