WILKESBORO, N.C. (AP) -- The trend today is to make light fixtures fashion pieces, adding style and personality to the room.
To help with decorating decisions and to make it easier to choose fixtures for homes with open floor plans, Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse suggests replacing old, individual light fixtures of different styles with fixtures from a lighting collection.
''Lighting collections consist of different types of fixtures that have been designed to work together to create a unified look for a room,'' said Melissa Birdsong, director of trend forecasting and design for Lowe's.
Before making a final decision, be sure your lighting collection includes all three types of lighting:
-- Ambient or general lighting, which serves as a source of general illumination to see surroundings and move safely throughout the room.
-- Task lighting, which supplies the intense directed light for a specific activity, such as reading.
-- Accent or decorative lighting, which creates mood, sets tone and adds interest in a room by highlighting certain areas and objects, such as paintings and collectibles.
Using all three types of lighting gives a room a ''layered'' look, allowing you to create different moods and levels of illumination for various activities.
Birdsong said replacing a light fixture's outdated glass or fabric shade will provide a quick spruce up and help complement existing decor.
-- For a rustic look, choose a painted scavo glass with a patterned or painted design.
-- For decorating the dining room, choose an elegant frosted or crystal glass.
-- For a romantic setting, choose a glass piece with an opal or alabaster look.
-- To personalize and add color to a room, choose a hand-painted Tiffany-style glass shade.
Lighting can be used to create depth and visual appeal. Birdsong suggests installing lights in interesting areas of the room to achieve different moods and effects.
-- Try fluorescent fixtures under the wall cabinets in your kitchen to illuminate your workspace and reduce shadows in food preparation areas.
-- Install fluorescent strip lights above kitchen cabinets to provide soft, indirect illumination.
-- Suspend decorative pendant lighting with compact fluorescent globes over the table, breakfast counters or islands for visual interest and energy savings.
-- Vary the height of the light sources (lamps, pendants, wall sconces, etc.) in the room to add variety and depth.
-- In hallways, try placing fixtures high on walls, directing light downward. This will add drama and a feeling of spaciousness.
-- Use a halogen spotlight to accent an interesting painting, floral arrangement or piece of furniture at the end of a hallway.
-- Graze textured walls with halogen down-lights or directional lights placed close to the wall and aimed downward for added depth and visual interest.
-- Give the room more depth by extending the atmosphere into the outdoors with garden or shrubbery lights visible from windows inside the room.
-- Use a halogen, floor-mounted, directional fixture under a large plant to create an artistic pattern on the wall or ceiling.
-- Before upgrading the lighting in any room, evaluate your home's existing electrical circuitry. Be sure it can handle the fixtures you plan to add.
-- For closets, install mechanical timers to ensure lights are turned off.
-- Use fluorescent lights to enhance the appearance of skin tones.
-- To create an inviting atmosphere, use five to 10 light sources in every room.
-- Place several light sources in the dining room to help balance the light and keep dark shadows off guests' faces.
-- Because dark colors absorb light, you will need to use more lighting in rooms decorated with dark colors.
-- Place strip lights on either side of the mirror rather than above to improve visibility and eliminate shadows for shaving and applying makeup.
Lowe's Companies Inc. has 576 stores in 37 states. The company's headquarters is Wilkesboro, N.C.
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