Avoiding the "Museum Effect"
A home with only accent lighting makes the objects and architectural features in a room more important than its occupants.
 
I like clean lines. Why can’t I just use recessed adjustable fixtures? I see it done in magazines all the time.

Often we will see homes that just have accent lighting. If these are the only source of illumination then what is created is called the "museum effect," where family and guests feel less important than the objects in the space. What the professional photographers are doing is to add supplementary fill light to balance the illumination in the shot. This creates the illusion that the recessed fixtures are also adding ambient light for the space.

The most effective lighting design occurs when various types of lighting are layered together to create spaces that are both inviting and flexible. The decorative lighting is what I like to call the architectural jewelry. It welcomes family and guests into the various rooms and helps create a sense of place; especially in open plan homes where rooms tend to flow together. The ambient lighting is the alluring indirect illumination that softens the shadows on people's faces and fills the volume of a room with illumination. These varied lighting elements will work beautifully together, like Brad and Angelina.

Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website www.randallwhitehead.com for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

Leave A Comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Latest from ask randall

This is a challenging question that may require a bit of compromise. To keep the cooler hues appearing crisp and white, you need to select a color... read full story
First off, I'm very glad that you are using a pair of sconces flanking the mirror. You don’t want fixtures that point light up or down, but instead... read full story
I wasn’t immediately familiar with the CE listing, but I’ve done my research. This is a label used in European countries and is applied to products... read full story
This is a little bit of a challenging situation. You want to have a fixture that you can’t look inside of easily — we don’t want to see the bulbs... read full story

Webinars

Sponsored by Legrand and Bulbrite.  Wednesday, October 5 at 2 p.m. EDT Register for this free CEU webinar here. Webinar Overview:Learning units:AIA/CES LU (HSW) 1.0... read full story
This webinar has already taken place, but you can still watch it on demand by registering here. Sponsored by Emerson and Legrand. Webinar Overview: Learning units:AIA/... read full story
This webinar has already taken place, but you can still watch it on demand by registering here. Webinar Overview:Learning units:AIA/CES LU (HSW) 1.0 Learning UnitIDCEC (IIDA/... read full story

RL Tweets!

E-mail Subscriptions