Lighting is an important aspect of a home, adding both brightness and elegance.
Sandie Vlach, co-owner of Sunshine Lighting, a lighting retailer located in St. Charles, says transitional and contemporary lighting styles have been increasingly popular with her customers this year.
“We are seeing a lot of changes in the finish of fixtures,” says Vlach, who owns the business with her husband, Tom. “We are moving away from brass, and customers are buying fixtures in oil-rubbed bronze and polished nickel.”
Vlach says homeowners need to look at the type of furniture in the room, the colors in the room and the function of the room to get ideas as to which types of lighting they will need to buy. The size of the room and the height of the ceiling also are very important considerations.
“The trick is selecting a fixture that’s not too big but not too small,” she says.
Vlach says it helps to know that there are three main types of lighting: general, task and accent.
General lighting provides an area with overall illumination. When a person turns on the switch in a room, general lighting is what lights the entire room.
Task lighting helps an individual perform specific tasks. Under-cabinet lighting that helps a person cook in the kitchen is an example of task lighting.
Accent lighting adds drama to a room by creating visual interest. This type of lighting isn’t the main source of light in a room. Vlach says sconces are an example of accent lighting.
Chandeliers are a versatile type of lighting as they provide a good source of general lighting, plus they’re very decorative, Vlach says. And they aren’t just found in dining rooms or entryways anymore — more and more kitchens and bathrooms are now featuring chandeliers.
“Homeowners are being more creative nowadays about ways to enhance their homes,” she says. “They are more daring than they used to be.”
Vlach says one of the biggest current trends in home lighting is drum-shade chandeliers. One of the most popular drum-shade chandelier combinations is a chandelier with a sheer drum shade.
Adding a sheer drum shade to a simple crystal chandelier creates a beautiful layered look while still allowing the beauty of the crystals and light to shine through the sheer material. For those who want a more modern look, they can add a more opaque drum shade such as a cotton duck drum shade over a contemporary chandelier.
Caroline Leadingham, the showroom manager at Lighting Options in Geneva, says drum-shade chandeliers are popular among her clientele, as well. This Fox Valley area lighting retailer offers all types of fashionable lighting such as pendants, sconces, ceiling fans/lights, flush mounts, lamps and recessed lighting.
Leadingham says lighting with clean lines and a sleek style resembling a city-loft are what customers are really going for, noting pendants and sconces are very popular types of lighting.
Pendants, a type of task lighting, can be hung above seating areas, in the kitchen, above bathroom vanities and in the entryway. Wall sconces, meanwhile, are a type of accent lighting that’s very popular in home design. They come in a wide variety of shapes and light designs and are found in many different rooms of the house.
Recessed lighting, or can lighting, is a popular form of general lighting. Lighting Options offers recessed lighting in contemporary, traditional and transitional styles as well as numerous finishes such as brass, bronze, polished nickel and copper.
Apart from the actual fixture, Vlach says the lighting world is seeing changes in the actual bulb itself, as lighting moves away from incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs, to light-emitting diode, or LED, light bulbs.
“LED is the future of lighting,” she says.
When purchasing bulbs, Leadingham says to pay special attention to Environmental Protection Agency laws regarding lighting. Incandescent bulbs are being phased out, and manufacturers aren’t permitted to make incandescent bulbs in certain wattages anymore.
Leadingham and Vlach both agree that lighting is a fashion-driven industry, and it’s not just about illuminating a space. Homeowners put a little bit of their personalities into their homes by adding lighting that looks good to them and is pleasing to the eye.
“Lighting is fun. Putting lighting in a room is like putting icing on the cake,” Vlach says. “Lighting is what makes a room look beautiful.”
Decorating a home and yard with brightly colored decorations is a popular Christmas ritual.
Brian Larsen — owner of County Wide Landscaping in Elburn, which specializes in brick paver patios, driveways, full-yard landscape redesigns, water gardens, waterscapes and holiday lighting — shares different ways to light up the home for the holidays.
To create a holiday fantasy in and around the home, Larsen notes the following trends in holiday lighting:
• LED Lights: When selecting the type of light to decorate their homes, many people are turning to LED versus incandescent, Larsen says. While LEDs do cost more at first, they’re worth the investment. According to Larsen, LEDs last longer than traditional lights, consume less power and don’t break easily.
Icicle Lights and LED Falling Icicle Lights: Icicle lights have been a popular holiday decoration for several years. They are hung along the exterior roofline of a home or building and have long, vertical strands of lights that resemble icicles when lit. Icicle lights are usually white in color, but are also offered in a variety of colors. Larsen says a new variation to the popular icicle lights is LED falling icicle lights, which are lights that emulate falling snow in the night sky and are displayed just like icicle lights.
Music and Lights: Larsen says holiday light displays that literally dance to the music are becoming very popular. With improvements in technology, the tradition of decorating a home and yard for the holidays has evolved from the use of a few strands of lights and garland to full-fledged light shows synchronized to music.
White Lights: Larsen says homeowners choose white lights when they want a clean and elegant look, but colored lighting products are still popular. Coordinating lights by colors — for example, green lights on trees and red lights circling the trunks — can create a unique look. Red, white and blue lights are a popular color theme besides the standard holiday red and green, he adds. kc