Lighting Redux





As I begin work on my third book---all I can say about the name is that it has “Glamorous” in the title---which will be released in September 2020, I have reflected on my first book, GLAMOROUS ROOMS.  One of the chapters I’m thinking about is lighting because in my opinion, it’s the key to really good design.


One of the main features on my mind is lighting.  There is a wonderful book called MASTER CLASS by Carl Delatore that includes 100 top designers and their essays on any subject about interiors.  I chose lighting for my essay and would love for you to read it and, hopefully, if you are into interior design done properly, read Carl Delatore’s wonderful book.



Have you ever noticed how lovely everyone looks in the glow of candlelight? That’s because any light that illuminates only the front of the face-including the rising sun in the morning and the setting sun in the late afternoon- is magical. This type of lighting avoids creating the harsh shadows that overhead lighting can bring. Nature is always the best teacher.



There are certainly instances when overhead lighting is useful, but in general, ambient light is flattering light. A silk or linen lampshade allows light to diffuse through the shade, providing a gentle glow at eye level, while a thick paper or metal shade gives light that is dramatic but harsher. 

Many years ago, Shirley MacLaine won the Oscar for her stunning performance in Terms of Endearment. That same year she came to Dallas to receive an award from the USA Film Festival. I was on the board of the Festival at that time and had the opportunity to sit with her and chat. She simply looked stunning! So I asked her how they aged her for the movie because she looked at least fifteen years older in the film. Her answer came immediately: "Lighting, my dear-overhead lighting is how we age actors in Hollywood." MacLaine went on to say that if we could all walk around with lighting that lit our faces, we would look at least ten years younger. 

Have you ever noticed how actors' or actresses' eyes seem to sparkle in films? That’s because they know where their key light is and that if they are standing or sitting on their marks, they key light will do its magic.




One thing I always tell my clients is that they should look fabulous in their rooms, otherwise why bother going to all the trouble and expense? Complementary colors for clients and great eye-level lighting are my two favorite ways to make them look great and feel confident in the rooms we design and create.



I find that clients are often surprised when I suggest that we use lamps on a dining credenza or buffet. Dining rooms are notorious for typically having only a chandelier, which often creates a harsh light, unless it has shades made of either fabric or glass. That is why most people use candlelight for dining. Lamps add much more softness to these rooms and another wonderful decorative element.



Dressing tables and vanities in bathrooms are another place where eye-level lighting is essential. In these rooms, one really needs both recessed ceiling lights above and lamps or sconces to light the face. Even better in this image, daylight and lamp light.



Recessed or overhead lighting is necessary, of course, to highlight art and objects and to fill dark areas where there is no opportunity for lamps or sconces. There is an art as well as a science to lighting artwork and objects, so I believe that hiring a qualified and talented lighting designer is a necessity when building or remodeling a house.



Always have a lamp by each chair in a room: this may mean a lamp in between two chairs. There should also be a table by a chair to set a drink or cup on- there's nothing worse than having a lonely chair with no light and no table.




Mirrors are a brilliant way to bring eye-level lighting to any room, as they create a window on any wall on which they are placed. The use of glass also creates a glow in any room that nothing else can reproduce. Groups of interesting glass objects that are well lit by directed lighting are another way to bring pleasing light to faces.




Let’s not forget eye level lighting in outdoor spaces. We enjoy so many activities in these areas-Be sure to include lamps in your plans so that you and your family and guests will enjoy the outdoors even more.


The power of inspired lighting, so often underestimated, is the secret ingredient that enhances the rooms that suit our clients' individuality as well as their needs. It is the design element that softens and beautifies, casting everyone in the most positive light possible. 


I hope this little essay on lighting with images included helps you create a space where everyone looks amazing!  After all, shouldn’t that be the goal of good design, along with comfort?


Best always,

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