Getting Started On Your Lighting

You’ve worked hard to design your home to fit your style, but the rooms still don’t have the charm or appearance you had hoped. It’s likely that the lighting in the room is not correct. Lighting is one of the most important aspects of good home design. It is not only to light the world around us but to help us to perceive colors and textures. Curtis Lumber’s Lighting Designers in our Ballston Spa Lighting Store can help you to achieve the right lighting in your home.

Types of Lighting

Well lit rooms combine three types of lighting:

1. General Lighting

General lighting provides an area with overall illumination. Also known as ambient lighting, general lighting radiates a comfortable level of brightness, enabling you to see and walk about safely. It can be accomplished with chandeliers, ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures, recessed lights, and lanterns outside your home. A basic form of lighting that replaces sunlight, general lighting is fundamental to planning the lighting in your room.

2. Task Lighting

Task lighting is light that helps you perform specific tasks such as reading, sewing, cooking, homework, hobbies, or games. It can be provided by recessed lighting, pendant lighting, and portable lamps. Task lighting should be free of distracting glare and shadows and should be bright enough to prevent eye strain.

3. Accent Lighting

Add drama to a room by creating visual interest with accent lighting. As part of a decorating scheme, it is used to spotlight paintings, houseplants, and other prized possessions, or to highlight the texture of a wall, drapery, or outdoor landscaping. Accent lighting requires at least three times as much light on the focal point as the general lighting around it. This usually is provided by recessed, or wall-mounted fixtures.

Types of Lighting Fixtures

Once you have selected what you want to light, it’s time to decide on how you will light it. The lighting showroom at Curtis Lumber in Ballston Spa and have a variety of fixtures on display to let you pick something that suits your style. The types of fixtures you will see include:


These hanging fixtures add sparkle and style to your dining room, bedroom, foyer, or over a living room grouping while giving you the general lighting you need for dining, entertaining, or other activities. Some are designed with downlights to provide task lighting for homework or table games, or to accent table settings. Chandeliers are the most popular residential lighting fixture because they create a focal glow that suggests intimacy. A dimmer may be used to alter the intensity.


These fixtures are used to provide both task and general lighting. Equipped with shades or globes to avoid glare, they are suspended from the ceiling over dinette tables, game tables, kitchen counters, or other work areas. The use of dimmer controls gives you the flexibility to vary the light to suit the occasion.

Ceiling Fixtures

This type is usually used to provide general lighting. It is practical to use these fixtures in busy areas such as foyers, hallways, bedrooms, kitchens, baths, laundry rooms, playrooms, and dens.


Frequently, these fixtures are called sconces. They can furnish general, task, and accent lighting. Many are designed to match and supplement dining room chandeliers, or to provide hallway, bedroom, or living room lighting. Wall brackets are often used for task lighting at the bathroom mirror.

Recessed Lighting

If you need general, task, or accent lighting inconspicuously, choose this lighting. Installed in the ceiling with only the trim showing, recessed fixtures can be used anywhere in the home, including outdoors under the eaves. They are ideal for low-ceiling areas, and with a special adapter, they can also be used in cathedral ceilings. They are available as downlights, adjustable accent lights, and wall washers.


These specialty lights offer both task and accent lighting. As the name indicates, they can be placed under kitchen cabinets to light a countertop. In a display cabinet, they show off prized possessions.

Lighting Controls

Once the right fixtures are selected, it is important to decide how you will turn your lighting on and off. Lighting controls allow you to design a lighting plan with multiple uses and decorative effects. Whether you choose an on-and-off switch or a sophisticated dimming system, how you control your lights is an important consideration.

Dimming systems enable you to lower the light level to conserve energy and increase bulb life, vary the mood of a room, alter the intensity of the light to suit the activity and create and save a number of different lighting scenes in each room. Be sure to talk to your Curtis Lighting salesperson about how you would like to control the light in your next project.


The fixture you choose will influence the type of light bulbs that are used.


Halogen bulbs are upgraded incandescent bulb that offers 20% greater energy efficiency, longer service life, and improved light quality. Most halogen bulbs are used for accent lighting but can be used for decorative or general lighting. They tend to cast whiter, brighter light than standard incandescent bulbs.


Fluorescent bulbs and tubes create light by passing electricity through a gas, releasing ultraviolet energy which charges a phosphorus coating on the inside of the bulb or tube glass. This makes the phosphors glow, or fluoresce, to produce light. Fluorescent bulbs and tubes create light very efficiently and last a long time. With the development of compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL), fluorescents can fit in more fixtures, thus bringing their energy efficiency to many more light sources. When choosing a fluorescent, be sure to examine what color of light is given off. These bulbs come in various color temperatures, from cool white through daylight.


LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulbs are a solid-state light source, basically, a chip embedded in a plastic capsule. When electricity is applied to the chip, it emits light. The light color is dependent on the chip’s chemical composition, so light color can vary from cool white to warm white. LEDs are significantly more efficient than any other lighting because they use little power and are small.

General Tips and Hints

Here are some tips to remember as you plan the lighting throughout your home:

  • When deciding on the lighting for a room, consider these questions: What kind of mood should the lighting create? What different activities take place in the room? What decorative elements do you want to attract attention?
  • In general, to create an inviting atmosphere use three to five light sources in every room.
  • To simplify your decorating decisions, there are lighting collections available with the same finish and style for pendants, chandeliers, wall-mounted sconces, as well as floor and table lamps. Using fixtures from the same collection within a single room creates a unified look.
  • To make rooms interesting, vary the height of the light sources in the room. The differing heights add depth and interest by creating separate areas of light and shade.
  • Remember, because dark colors absorb light, you’ll need to use more lighting in rooms decorated with dark colors than in rooms with light colors.

Lighting Design

If you are thinking about changing the lighting in your home, it is worth a trip to our lighting store in Ballston Spa. Whether you need one fixture or a houseful, our skilled designers will put together the perfect lighting plan for your job.