Bright Ideas

If a room still feels lackluster even after choosing furniture and accessories, it may be due to a lack of good lighting. Often a neglected piece of the home décor puzzle, done right, it can add glamour and drama to any room. Try this season’s newest trend in lighting—designs that are, in and of themselves, artwork.

1. Caravaggio P2 pendant lamp, $350 at Design Within Reach (Mill Valley). 415.384.0480,
2. Cobweb Chandelier by Carl Dern with Karen Brown, starting at $10,000 at Carl Dern Studio (Fairfax). 415.457.1883, 
3. Poseidon Globe by Melogranoblu, starting at $569 at Lunaria (Larkspur). 415.461.0588,
4. Lavaliere Luminaire Grand by Thomas Fuchs for the Kentfield Collection, price available upon request at Boyd Lighting (SF). 415.778.4300,

A good lighting design creates an atmosphere that is warm, inviting and subtle. In the lighting biz it’s referred to as a “layering of light” created by decorative, accent, ambient and task lighting. Here are some tips from Duane Johnson of San Rafael–based Artistic Lighting & Electric Corporation who has been illuminating Marin homes for over three decades.

Why should a homeowner consider a lighting designer? Properly designed lighting has a substantial impact on the interior design and architectural elements of the space. With the constant change of technology being a driving force in the home building industry, a homeowner can be overwhelmed by the expanded use of lighting, audio/video, communication, computer, security and home automation. An experienced lighting designer can assist with fixture selection, placement, lighting control, electrical code issues, maintenance characteristics and energy efficiency.

What is lighting control? A lighting control system allows the homeowner to control any light or group of lights from any location in the home. It minimizes wall clutter by reducing multiple switches and dimmers to a single keypad. From this keypad, the owner has complete flexibility of home lighting choices such as party scene, landscape lighting, security, night light and “all on / all off” functions.

What new products have emerged in the residential market? LED (Light-emitting diodes) and fiber-optic technologies have evolved in their usability for residential applications. LEDs can be used for cove lighting, bookcases and various other applications, including color-changing effects for pools, spas and fun interior environments like home theaters. Fiber-optic is used in small display cases for accent lighting, shower lighting and pool and spa lighting. The Merlin Lighting™, also known as “optical framing projectors,” can confine the lighting to match the shape of art or sculpture—the ultimate in artwork illumination. RF (radio frequency) communication technology provides reliable wireless communication for retrofit lighting control systems.