Lighting design is the ultimate marriage of form and function. Scale, shape and style all come to mind when choosing a fixture, but placement, purpose and power should be given equal consideration. A simple formula for success includes three layers of lighting: ambient, task and accent. Here’s how to strike just the right balance when hatching a plan for your log or timber home’s lighting.
Ambient lighting is the most general form of light and allows you to move through and live in your home comfortably and safely when the sun goes down. Create ambient light with chandeliers and ceiling- or wall-mounted fixtures or track and recessed lights. Dimmers, timers and motion sensors not only give you precise control of light levels throughout the day, they also help you conserve energy and, ultimately, save money.
Task lighting is any illumination that serves a hyper-specific purpose, often incorporated in the hardest-working zones, like the kitchen counters, an office desk or a bathroom vanity. Task lighting can take the form of a lamp or pendant, but also consists of varieties like under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen or sconces flanking a mirror in the bathroom.
It’s time to dial up the drama! Shine a spotlight on your favorite art or showcase the structural elements of your home with accent lights. Accent lighting often takes the form of museum lights to brighten a painting or photo, wall sconces or even puck lights inside cabinets to show off china and treasured heirlooms. Tape or ribbon lights cast an elegant upward glow and can emphasize your gorgeous wood trusses.
A Note on Natural Light
Lighting design is both fun to plan and an essential part of any home, but natural light is just as important for your home’s overall feel, not to mention your health! Luckily, log and timber homes lend themselves to abundant natural light, thanks to their wide-open living spaces and expansive walls of windows.
If you’re still in the design phase, consider how your home’s siting and floor plan can take advantage of natural sunlight. A statement-making prow is probably the first thing that comes to mind, but don’t forget about the power of skylights and solar tubes to add a little sunshine to your internal rooms.
Find the Right Fixture
One of the best things about log and timber homes is how you can push the interior design in a variety of directions. What style speaks to you? A cozy cabin in the woods? A serenely simple farmhouse on the plains? Perhaps a classic Adirondack camp or a luxe Rocky Mountain lodge? Here are a few tips for finding the right fixtures for your own log or timber home:
- If outfitting your family’s new farmhouse, gooseneck sconces and simple metal and glass chandeliers complete the look. Try the Barn Light Electric Company for a selection that’s endlessly customizable and handcrafted in the U.S.A.
- In a mountain retreat, there’s nothing more classic than a shed-antler chandelier. These fixtures take center stage in stairwells, great rooms and dining rooms. Check out Terry Wilson Antler Designs for sustainably sourced and custom-crafted antler chandeliers. (Plus, they’ll make sure you get the proportions and placement just right!)
- Travel back to the era of the Great Camps with lighting that captures the essence of Adirondack design. Search for fixtures that nod to the genre’s popular use of twigs, branches and bark, as well as designs that incorporate iron details and amber mica shades. Go straight to the source by shopping the fixtures from L. Post Rustics, a family business based in the Adirondack Mountains.
In the Mood
One great room, three functions — and a lighting scheme to fit each one.
The Game Room. Randy Sweitzer illustration.
THE GAME ROOM: Reading, playing games and watching TV.
Scheme: Well-lit, even light that fills the whole room, especially activity areas.
Tools: General light on full blast supplemented by task lighting in activity areas and accent lights to soften the atmosphere.
THE PARTY ROOM: Entertaining family and friends.
Scheme: A soft, warm light to flatter guests and establish a convivial atmosphere.
Tools: Partially dimmed general light supplemented by accent lights to highlight surface textures and softly brighten dark corners. Fireplace and candlelight create movement and shadows.
THE LOUNGE: Relaxing in front of the fire.
Scheme: A dim, dramatic and cozy atmosphere.
Tools: Low general lighting (just a flicker) supplemented by the incandescent glow of fire and candlelight to create shadows and movement. Feature lights on a dimmer highlight wall textures.