When Laura Arrigoni updated the kitchen in her Blue Ridge home, she wanted the lighting to be functional and add architectural dimension. Now her kitchen features three...

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When Laura Arrigoni updated the kitchen in her Blue Ridge home, she wanted the lighting www.grandinroad.comto be functional and add architectural dimension.

Now her kitchen features three softly glowing orange pendant lamps that separate the kitchen and family area.

And she has plenty of focused light for the stove and counter now that the recessed lighting is gone.

“It just adds so much more interest,” she said. “At night, it adds this really pretty ambiance to the room.”

With fall upon us and the days growing shorter, now is a good time to reassess your own lighting situation.

Tips from a pro

For those unwilling to go through a major renovation, there are easy ways to illuminate dark corners and freshen up lighting you already own, said Kim Hansen, owner of Harold’s Lighting in Wallingford. Here are his tips:

One is not enough: A common lighting mistake is thinking one light is sufficient for an entire room. A room needs different light sources for different tasks, Hansen said.


Harold’s Lighting: 1912 N. 45th St., Seattle. 206-633-2557 or www.haroldslighting.com

Alexander Lighting: 2450 Eighth Ave. S. Suite 100, Seattle, 206-624-7357 or www.alexanderlighting.com

Antique Lighting Co.: 8214 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle. 800-224-7880 or www.antiquelighting.com

A torchiere will add general, or ambient, light to a room, but you also need a table lamp for reading, he said. If you need to adjust the lighting, buy lamps with dimmer switches.

Light for the occasion: “You want different light if you’re just entertaining for the evening,” he said. “Sitting down having conversations, you want mood. You don’t want glaring light everywhere.”

Change shades: If you have enough lamps but want to make everything feel brighter, swap out old, yellowing lampshades for new ones.

Replacing the old shade also gives the lamp and the room an updated look for less.

Hansen suggests cream shades for the nice quality of light that shines through them.

Switch bulbs: Another cost-efficient fix is to replace incandescent light bulbs with halogen bulbs, which have a clean, bright light. Fluorescent bulbs are a good option for energy efficiency, but most of the bulbs don’t emit as much light.

Lighting different rooms

Here are some other suggestions for lighting rooms, from Hansen and Alexander Lighting’s Web site (www.alexanderlighting.com):

• Living room: Place torchieres in a corner to push light up and across the ceiling and create ambient light. Put a reading light where you like to read so you have focused light close by.

Consider putting a small up-light next to a corner plant for a dramatic effect. Spotlight a painting with a picture light. Add sconces to each side of a fireplace to draw attention to the area. If you have a piano, make sure it has its own light.

Bedroom: Ceiling fixtures, recessed lights or wall sconces provide general light in bedrooms.

Add an adjustable, lighted makeup mirror to a dressing area and swing-arm wall lamps above bedside tables to add focused light and leave tables clear.

Kitchen: Light dinettes, islands and nooks with pendant lamps. Consider a pendant lamp above the sink for more focused light. Add under-cabinet lighting to brighten dark counters. For ambiance, consider adding lighting above cabinets so that it splashes up onto the ceiling.

It’s OK to ask for help

If you’re going through a renovation, Hansen recommends using a lighting consultant (most lighting specialty stores have one) to assess the situation. Lighting is permanent, and it helps to have someone walk through instead of relying on a contractor to recommend fixtures, he said.

Style, of course, is usually the most important factor when people buy lamps or sconces.

Arrigoni improved lighting in various rooms with the help of stores like Harold’s and Antique Lighting.

She knew she didn’t want light directed at people’s faces in the bathroom, so she chose simple Italian glass wall sconces that emit light up and down. She also preserved an original 1940s fixture in the foyer by changing just the finial and the ceiling mount to a darker metal, but keeping the original, pretty glass.

And in her teenage daughter’s room, she switched out a ceiling fixture for a carved glass version from Antique Lighting that hangs a few inches below the ceiling and scatters light onto the ceiling.

“We wanted to add more light and just make it cute,” she said.

Nicole Tsong: 206-464-2150 or ntsong@seattletimes.com