Lighting Considerations for Basement Remodels
In many basement remodels, the space is divided into several rooms or areas. As you plan the design and division of the space and the style of the furnishings and the function of each area, it is important to consider the various lighting needs in the finished space.
It is likely that you will want to use several kinds of lighting in different parts of the basement. And the chance to use light to make the space more useful or more attractive is part of the fun of basement remodels.
Whether you are remodeling/redecorating a finished basement or starting from unfinished space to create the living areas you need, these tips should help you as you consider the best lighting for your basement remodel.
1. Think about how you can effectively use all four main kinds or sources of light: natural light (from outside), general overall artificial lighting in each room or area, artificial task lighting in appropriate areas, and accent lighting.
2. Start with natural light. Decide what kind of windows will bring in natural light most effectively. Then think about not only where you currently have windows, but also about where you might be able to add a window. Think also about the size and shape of the windows and about alternative shapes or sizes that might meet your lighting needs.
3. Plan your overall room lighting. Overall lighting will provide some level of light throughout the room. This kind of lighting is usually installed as ceiling lights or wall sconces, pendant lights or even “up-lights”. Overall lighting is usually accessed by a switch beside the door to the room. If you have more than one point of entry into a room, you might want to plan to have a switch beside each door or opening.
4. Plan your navigation lighting. Decide what kind of overall lighting you will install for hallways, stairways, and exterior entrances. Again, you will want to think carefully about placement of switches and possibly needing to be able to control the light from more than one switch.
5. Add accent lights. Accent lighting “accents” a particular area of a room. For example, you might be trying to create a cozy reading nook in a family room or den. To make the area look warm and cozy, you might choose to use colored light or sconces on the wall. You might also want to use accent lighting to call attention to special architectural or design features of the room, like a tray ceiling or columns. These lights may provide some general lighting or even some task lighting, but their main purpose is decorative.
6. Add task lighting. Install under-cabinet lighting, pendant lights or lamps where extra light is needed for specific tasks. The reading corner might need a floor lamp or a table lamp; an office area might need extra lighting for a drawing board.
7. Consider how your decorating colors will change the effect of lighting fixtures. Dark colors tend to absorb more light. Light colors reflect more light. Consider the number and type of fixtures you will need accordingly.
8. Consider the age of your family members or any special vision problems. As we age our vision changes. Some people have vision problems that require special lighting for certain kinds of tasks. After the age of about 40 people tend to have some trouble focusing on things that are small and close to the face. Many people have problems adjusting to extremely bright light or adjusting to glare. If you have young children or aging parents in the home, you might want to add some sort of nightlight or other illumination for stairways to prevent accidents.
9. Trust the advice of experts. Whether your architect will help you with lighting or you work with a lighting consultant at your local home improvement or lighting store, don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. To get the best effect from artificial lighting fixtures and save energy, a little expert advice can save you time and money while making your room(s) more comfortable.
Despite the tendency to think lighting is just a matter of putting a few lamps and ceiling fixtures in the new spaces, lighting considerations are very important in basement remodels. With these tips, your planning should be easier.
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