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Light This Way

By Gerie Gilbert
Whether I’m renovating a historic home or building someone’s “dream house” from the ground up, I’ve found that homeowners often forget about one of the most essential elements of any space:  Light. It has incredible mood changing capacity and can transform any aesthetic with some surprisingly affordable and energy saving alternatives.
Pendant lighting fixtures are a modern, smaller alternative to a chandelier.  Sometime called a “drop” or a “suspender,” lighting pendants are independent fixtures suspended from a chain, a cord or a metal rod, and hung from the ceiling. Not only do they save space, most pendants are energy-saving low voltage models and use either halogen or fluorescent bulbs.
Mini pendants can work in almost any room of the house. A mini-pendant hung beside the bed will function just as well as a wall sconce. Clusters of pendants can provide effective “task lighting” in a bathroom which is perfect for applying make-up or shaving.
Another simple trick to create great ambience is to line up mini pendants in the kitchen over the bar. It creates a cozy, “pub effect” that your houseguests will love.
Accent Lighting
Layering lighting within a room creates depth and drama. Accent lights are meant to focus attention on a certain feature or area of the room you want to highlight or set a mood for.  For example, lights installed above cabinets can illuminate a ceiling mural, elegant crown molding, or contrasting ceiling and wall paint colors.
If you’ve collected art you want to showcase, spotlights or picture lights can accent a framed piece of art or a sculpture, creating a stunning focal point in that room.  You can even request special UV filters to protect more sensitive art pieces.
Landscape Lighting
Your hard work in the yard is paying off and your flowers are in bloom — they deserve a spotlight!  Great exterior lighting can be elegant and beautiful while also enhancing the size of your house.  It draws attention to the places you want to showcase and detracts attention you don’t want from possible home security threats.  Homeowners are able to keep better watch of their property and also prevent accidents that might happen in a poorly lit area.
LED lights are an inexpensive and durable solution that comes in a variety of designs. LED lighting is an economical way to light your landscape and add beauty to flower gardens, fountains or rock formations. You can plant landscape lights all over your yard or line them up to create a glowing pathway to the front door of your house. 
Knowing when to use a softer, warmer light, like metal halide lighting, as opposed to a high-intensity discharge (HID) light can save you time and money. It’s also important to know which plants and garden features to accent, so energy isn’t wasted on a plant that does not reflect light rays. For example, deciduous plants like honeysuckle, wisteria and virginia creeper reflect light and show off their colors and textures well under accented light.  Evergreen, on the other hand, absorbs light.
Gerie Gilbert is the CEO of Care For Your Castle, Inc., a licensed neighborhood contractor.  Visit the website at

Photo by Brett Falcon

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