Everything is Illuminated
ELEMENTS – MAY 2008
By Candace Karu
Photography by Darren Setlow
Lighting to flatter every decor form traditional cottage to urban loft
Overhead lights, pendant lights, outdoor lights, incandescent bulbs, LEDs, CFLs, mood lighting, task lighting, keep-the-boogeyman-at-bay lighting—a well-designed home incorporates a variety of lights and uses them in many different ways. Whether direct or recessed, ceiling-mounted or freestanding, great lighting can complement and even complete an interior. Selecting the right lighting for a room is like a Rorschach test—each person interprets the effect in his or her unique way. Some respond to bright, direct lighting; others are more comfortable with something softer and more diffuse. Whatever the degree of illumination, the look and function of a room is usually best served by thoughtfully placed lighting from a number of sources.
Choosing the most effective and aesthetic lighting can be a complicated undertaking. Mood, use, traffic, and preference all play a part in how lighting is integrated into the life of a home. Because each room in the house has different and often multiple lighting needs, enlisting the help of an expert is one way to simplify the process.
According to Portland-based lighting designer Timothy Staples, careful planning and research are the best way to create an artful and effectual lighting scheme. Finding the right fixture is also a critical part of the process. “Light fixtures are an important element to the overall design,” he explains. “But you shouldn’t rely on a fixture alone to light a room. You need to work with other lighting tools like recessed, cove, and under-counter lights. Layering lights will add dimension to the room.”
Debbie Fogg, who with her husband, Sanford, owns Fogg Lighting in the Bayside neighborhood of Portland, finds working with clients to be the most fulfilling part of her job. “I love guiding people through the process of lighting their homes. It isn’t easy, so if a client starts to feel overwhelmed, I encourage them to make one major lighting-fixture decision. The rest falls into to place once you have that ‘keystone’ piece.” Fogg spends her days surrounded by beautiful fixtures, some of which she has incorporated into her own home’s décor. When asked what kind of fixtures she finds the most versatile, she says, “I love glass fixtures in all sizes and shapes. They can be warm and glowing like amber or sparkling and translucent like crystal.”
In addition to a vast number of lighting manufacturers and resources, new lighting technologies and designs offer homeowners abundant lighting options for every style, every room, and every mood. Choosing among these many innovations is what makes David Richard’s job exciting. A designer for South Portland’s House of Lights, Richard is inspired by the latest trends. “It’s often the unexpected that catches the eye and gives a room character,” he says. “Anyone can use a traditional fixture that will be perfectly appropriate, but I like to encourage clients to be a little adventurous, to take a risk.”
Good lighting can influence and heighten a mood, whether it’s the soft glow of a reading light in a cozy den, multiple task lights in a spacious kitchen, or a dramatic chandelier in a soaring foyer. The best lighting is an often-imperceptible amalgam of warmth, radiance, and security that reveals and brightens the soul of a home.