Lighting – An Important Yet Often Overlooked Design Element

Top-tier interior designers are known for their ability to create elegant yet exceptionally inviting living spaces that are in alignment with their clients’ unique personal tastes. Throughout the design process, enormous attention is devoted to color palettes, flooring material, ceiling details, cabinetry and countertop choices, furnishings, draperies, and accessories. To be sure, all of these considerations are essential to creating a cohesive, visually appealing design. Yet there is another critically important design element that often gets overlooked that can elevate a design beyond the norm. That element is lighting.

“I believe lighting is one of the most important and most overlooked aspects of interior design,” said Vogue Interiors’ Deborah Paulin, ASID, NCIDQ. “A successful design will present memory points. Effective lighting allows the designer to emphasize those things he or she wants people to remember. Path lighting can be used to lead a person through an interior and experience the impact of the memory points along the way. Lighting can be used to warm up a space and to create a mood. Pink light bulbs that are very flattering to skin tones can be put on dimmers in the master bedroom and bath. So in addition to providing base illumination for day to day activities, lighting can be used to ensure people see those things the homeowner really wants them to see.”

Paulin’s interiors incorporate thoughtfully considered lighting designs. Her artwork and accessory items are spotlighted in a way that reflects their importance within her design concept. Glass objects are often backlit to enhance their prominence. Cove lighting and pin lights bring additional drama and visual appeal to her architectural details, including adding a glow to faux finished coffered ceiling treatments that can bring a sense of warmth and comfort to even the grandest spaces. When tall drapery treatments are included in her design, down lighting is used to provide highlights. All of these lighting elements can be effectively used in concert with a gorgeous chandelier that serves as a room’s most prominent memory point.

“I personally like using halogen lighting for the art and accessory lighting because it most resembles natural light, it’s extremely flexible, and it’s easy to work with,” said Paulin. “The halogen fixtures can be aimed very precisely to keep the eye focused on the art, even to the point that the art can be beautifully illuminated while the surrounding walls are dark. Cove lighting and art lighting can create a wonderfully appealing look in the master bedroom. If the bed happens to be on a platform, rope lighting can add to the ambiance while also illuminating the step-down at night. At the same time, though, I’m very careful to not overdo the mood created by the lighting. For instance, while a dimmer controlled chandelier set over a dining table might sound romantic, if the table is long, people may not be able to see what they’re eating. Sometimes it’s necessary to use more than one chandelier.”