Lamps and lighting fixtures for the home are in abundance – in shops and malls, designer outlets, mail order catalogues and online. The home decor market has increased as consumers have become more style savvy, with more disposable income not to mention the explosion of home makeover television programs.
That the home lighting market has gone into such overdrive should come as no shock. In particular the last decade has seen a great rise in lighting manufacturers and a proliferation of many innovative and highly creative lighting designers.
But lets not forget what really lies behind this exciting new upsurge in the design of light fittings: lamps and light fixtures for your home.
A good quality light fitting is one which satisfies the aesthetic requirements (for example, has colors which will match and/or complement the colors of its surroundings) and adheres to safety guidelines as well as being properly constructed. For instance, floor lamps need to have sturdy, robust bases so that they do not tip over easily. For safety reasons, properly manufactured light fixtures should not overheat and scorch the shade or object of light focus, and so forth. As
well as these other factors for consideration are the ease of installation, ease of maintenance, portability, durability, economy and adjustability.
To choose the correct light fixture for your surroundings, try to visualize the lighting effect you desire:
What do you want the light fitting to do?
Will the light source provided by this fitting be adequate for the task at hand?
Will this light source be complemented by other light fittings in the room?
How will this light fitting be controlled?
Depending on the type of light fitting you have in mind, the distribution of its light is affected by using the principles of diffusion, refraction or reflection and are further affected by the type, shape and style of fitting and the materials it is made from. For example, spotlights, desk lights and ceiling-mounted downlighters emit a precise and focussed beam of light on the objects they are directed at.
Baffles and louvers are other light-manipulating devices commonly used in light fixtures. A “baffle” is a device attached to a light fitting to help prevent glare. The grooved indentations often seen on the inside of many cylindrically shaped light fittings are “baffles”. The grooves have the effect of reducing apparent brightness when you look into the light fitting from certain angles.
Louvers are blades, made from translucent or opaque plastic and metal, which reduce glare by preventing a direct view through the opening of the light source fixture.
Despite the use of louvers and baffles in many lighting designs, the most common way of manipulating artificial light in a room is the shade. This could be an integral part of the light fitting (as with spotlights) or separate (as with the traditional table lamp).
The choice of lampshade is highly personal and is affected by factors such as the color, fabric and size of the shade. Of course, one is so spoilt for choice these days that it should not be too difficult to find the exact lampshade you need to match a particular style or color theme.