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Lighting has so many functions and personalities that developing a thoughtful plan to incorporate function, drama, ambience, mood, tricks and style is always worth the time and money to get it right. Pre-planning a well thought out lighting scheme should be at the top of any remodeling or redecorating venture. There are so many ways both natural and artificial lighting affect any room and the people in it all day and all evening.

Especially when remodeling, the construction preparation for lighting is less costly if it’s done before any walls start coming down or before the last coat of paint is applied. Once the walls are finished, it is too late to add more lighting to a forgotten area without an expensive mess. This means thinking through and putting down on paper all places where the correct amount of lighting will make a difference in each room. There are two types of room lighting to evaluate: natural and artificial. Not all rooms have enough daytime lighting to complete the functions in that room and may need a boost during daylight hours. Many rooms have multi uses requiring several layers of different types of lighting such as the basic general lighting, specific task lighting and ambient lighting. Ambient or mood lighting can take on many forms depending on the room and its function. We all love mood lighting at the formal dining table, but don’t forget the romance of the bedroom or the bathroom while soaking in a relaxing bath tub.

Arizona has plenty of natural daylight and may need to close out some light during the summer to reduce heat transference. In this case the room may require extra artificial lighting. Landscaping with lots of trees and bushes outside windows gives shade but can also reduce natural interior lighting.

Next evaluate the purpose of the room and how many people will use it daily, occasionally or on special occasions. Does the room require different functions in different locations requiring multiple layers of lighting. What are the room’s best features and can they be accentuated or are there any faults that can be corrected with better lighting. Would the room’s ambiance improve with some dramatic or soft mood lighting?

The next step is to apply fundamental lighting principles by establishing a general lighting plan of three to five points of light around the room depending on the size of the room. If nothing else is done with lighting this will give basic illumination to the room. It can be accomplished by using table or floor lamps, which can be gorgeous and double as a unique accessory to add style to the space. Perhaps that lamp reflects your love of European countries with a design in carved wood, veined marble or sparkling crystal. Or perhaps a lamp with the clean lines of a contemporary styling in colored glass, polished metal or sculptured stone is more your taste. Maybe the room needs an unexpected touch of whimsy in the lamp style something that becomes a conversation piece. Lamps with a personality help establish the character of the room or showcase a rare treasure that blends a sense of history and atmosphere to your home.

The next step is adding the second layer, task lighting to the areas where specific things are being undertaken. Task lighting is needed at a desktop or computer center, by a reading chair, by the bedside, on the kitchen counter, applying makeup, or at a craft or a sewing table. Task lighting requires close-up lighting that doesn’t cast shadows or dark spots on the assignment at hand. This can be achieved by using specific lamps is various sizes and styles or strips lighting in the case of the kitchen counter.

The creative layer of lighting is the most fun because it can be applied to so many elements of design. Ambient lighting can be created in many places that are a natural and in places where a touch of light is a surprise. Commonly, installing lights on top of pot shelves, inside glass door cabinets and over a large painting are easy to do. But what about installing strip lighting at the base of the kitchen island or just under the counter to showcase a gorgeous new remodeled kitchen. Dark corners can turn into museum quality displays with accent lighting shining up from the floor or down from the ceiling onto a pedestal with artwork, a plant or sculpture. Wall washers can be used to highlight a decorative textured wall finish or an architectural feature. Hidden lighting can show off elegant window drapery fabrics or emphasize and draw attention to a fireplace.

There are endless ways of putting a lighting plan together to create a personal style, to distinguish the uniqueness of you and your home. It just takes planning, creativity, an ingredient of surprise and a blending of elements to capture and reflect the individual spirit that only you possess.

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Carol Sampson is an award-winning interior designer and author of 35 years. Reach her at (480) 759-6763 or visit

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