No two families are alike; and no two homes are the same. Despite what you might have heard, there really isn’t a standard ‘template’ or quick-fix answer to achieve effective family room lighting. Nevertheless, it’s your family hub and your aim should be to create a space where everyone feels comfortable.
This is Part 5 of Valley Light Gallery’s 5 part series on The Essentials of Elements of Interior Lighting.
So where do you start? The answer comes in the form of a lighting plan. The key to success is in appropriate layering. For this, you need to stop and think about what actually goes on in there. Whether it’s poker nights, book club meetings, watching TV or simply laptop browsing, your lighting plan needs to be able to deal with it all.
Looking at online catalogs and interior design magazines is fine. Sometimes though, it’s hard to get the sense of how a certain lighting option is going to work in your particular space. For this, it’s hard to beat talking to a real person (preferably someone who knows what’s going to work – and what’s not!). Go get some advice from lighting store experts; and if you’re in the Scottsdale Arizona area, be sure to check us out at Valley Light Gallery.
Here are some lighting tips to help you get the most out of three very different types of family rooms.
1. Creating the right lighting for the ultimate home cinema zone
Whether you’re a sports fan, movie buff or reality TV addict, if TV watching is the main thing going on in your family room, you need to take a little care with your lighting plan. Large flat-panel TVs are great: they do have a tendency to reflect the light in the room though. Modern glossy-screen TVs act light a mirror for light (and this includes windows as well as lamps). Fortunately, there are ways of preserving optimum picture quality without turning the lights off completely.
Do adjust your set…
It’s amazing how many people don’t realize that their TV itself might be able to help them out here. If you’ve got an LCD TV, check out the backlight control (most times people forget all about it). The factory setting is usually pretty high. Turn it down for evening viewing. You’ll notice a difference in terms of glare and your contrast ratio shouldn’t change.
Be careful with table lamps
Table lamps – even if they’re situated on the opposite side of the room or to the side of the TV – they are going to affect picture quality if they’re at the same height as the set. If one member of the family enjoys reading while the TV’s on, consider opting instead for an elegant reading lamp with a focused beam.
Uplighters for ambience
If the family room is where you do all your viewing, a bright down light is probably going to be the most underused light in the house. Opt instead for lights in alcoves and/or wall uplighters near or behind the screen.
2. Using light to create space in a compact family room
Consider feature sconces
In a relatively small, low-ceiling family room, an elaborate chandelier may be too overpowering. That’s not to say you can’t create a feature though. Opt for a pair of wall-mounted sconces to match the overall look of the room and to create a real focal point.
Track Beams: cool, modern and totally unobtrusive
Perhaps space is at an absolute premium? Perhaps you have a hunch that elaborate light fixtures aren’t going to last very long with the kids around? Consider small-scale track beams. Positioned on the ceiling, the position of the bulbs can be adjusted to focus exactly where you want them.
Create the illusion of depth
A large, decorative mirror not only provides a focal point but also magnifies light and gives the illusion of space in a relatively small space.
3. Creating a multi-purpose hub
Dimmer switches for complete control
Are there lots of things going on at once in your family room? Dimmer switches – not just for down lights but for table lamps too – enable members of the family to adjust the settings for the task in hand without disturbing everyone else.
Adjustable table lamps
Pharmacy-style adjustable lamps can give you a cool, retro look at the same time as offering the flexibility to meet all your needs.
If there’s a table in your family room that you need illuminating from time to time (for games night maybe?), consider one or two low hanging pendants for a warm, focused glow.
Use your furniture
If your family room features a bookcase, the top of it is a great surface for LED up lights for soft, ambient lighting. An awkward space behind a chair is a great position for a stand-alone floor lamp: perfect for bringing a dark corner to life as well as being a decorative object in its own right!
So long as you give thought to what the room is actually for, you should be able to build up a truly awesome lighting plan for your family room.