HOW TO AVOID SHADOWS IN YOUR LIGHTING SCHEME
Getting the lighting right in your home relies on having a good balance between shadow and light.
Shadow can be a good thing: if you want to create an atmospheric, moody corner, or if perhaps you want to cast a spotlight on a piece of art, then shadow has its uses. But shadows in the wrong place can ruin how a room functions.
So why do shadows happen, and what can we do to avoid having shadows in places we don’t want them?
Directional Light Vs Diffused Light
The way that light is emitted by a light source falls into two categories: directional light and diffused light, and each has a different purpose.
Directional lighting is the sort of light where there is a clear beam from a light source, such as a spotlight or a desk lamp for example. Most task lights cast a directional light by necessity. It is useful if you need to see what you are doing, rather than just having lights for mood or ambience.
However, directional beams of light bounce off of reflective surfaces and can cause glare, and it is directional lighting which is to blame for creating shadows in places that you don’t want them.
The second type of lighting then, is diffused lighting, which means a beam of light which has been softened or spread out in some way, usually by using a lamp shade. Lights can also be shaded by using a dimmer switch to decrease the intensity of the light. Diffused lighting produces fewer shadows.
Ambient lighting (such as your main room pendant) is usually non-directional, and falls into the diffused lighting category.
How to prevent shadows
Wherever possible, use diffused lighting to avoid reflection, glare and shadows. Use light shades and lampshades to soften the lighting from bulbs and install dimmer switches in your living, dining and sleeping spaces.
Too much overhead lighting means that you get in between the light source and the surface, and so this will always cast a shadow.
Shadows are cast when you (or an object) get between the light source and the reflective surface. Too much overhead lighting can mean that any people in the room block the light source, so one way to avoid shadows is to ensure that you position your lights so that this doesn’t happen.
For example, placing a central ceiling light above a dining room table will mean that shadows will be be cast by the people sitting around the table, whereas using low hanging pendant down lighters above the middle of the table will mean that no shadows will be cast on the plates, or on the people eating.
Hanging pendants low above a dining room table means that the light isn’t blocked by people, and so no shadows are cast. Use dimmer switches to keep the light soft and ambient. Image via Davey Lighting.
In areas where ambient light is used (such as a living area), this is fairly easy to achieve, but in areas where you need task lighting, it’s a little harder.
Shadows can be a particular problem in the kitchen where you find that, no matter where you stand, you block the light, exactly where you need it. Prevent this by installing under cabinet lighting, directional spots or consider using lamps on the work surface.
In office space, use a directional lamp on the desk- make sure that you position it opposite your writing hand, or aim the light beam directly onto your keyboard, and not onto the screen to reduce glare.
So if you find that you are getting shadows in unwelcome places, check the tips above, and solver your shadow problems.
If you’d like some extra help with lighting, click to download my 10 top tips for lighting your home. Just click the image.