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Lighting the Way

Portland lighting consultant Nancy Norton shares her top tips for illuminating your home

Lighting is one of the most significant elements in a home—a stunning fixture or simple recessed lighting can change the entire atmosphere of a room. Unfortunately, lighting is also one of the most overlooked parts of design, and it’s not until rooms are nearly finished that homeowners begin to think about their options for illuminating a space. We sat down with Nancy Norton, a lighting consultant at Portland’s Fogg Lighting, to learn more about the latest lighting trends, why layering is important, and how to keep our homes bright as we head into autumn.

Start with a statement

When Norton meets with clients in the Fogg Lighting showroom, she asks them to bring creative inspiration as well as a floor plan so they can “walk through” the house together to discuss lighting options. “We start with the kitchen, dining room, or entry chandelier,” before addressing the rest of the house, Norton explains. Adding a pop of color, infusing a space with drama, or incorporating a showstopping fixture is easiest to do first, “and then we can find sconces and other functional items based on the decorative ones,” she says.

Keep things natural

Blending natural elements and shapes in lighting fixtures is in vogue this year, according to Norton. “What’s been really popular is natural fibers, and mixing those with brass to create a refined piece,” she says. Rattan, jute, straw, and natural clay finishes are having a moment, so consider replacing an outdated industrial-style fixture with something more organic.

Pay attention to layers

“We like layering because it means you’re not just getting light from one overhead source,” Norton notes. When designing a kitchen, for example, “you’d have recessed lighting, then you’d add pendants over the island or kitchen table, and you’d also have under-cabinet lighting,” to illuminate your counter space. The same is true for a bedroom: “You could have bedside table lamps with a mix of recessed lighting, or there could be a ceiling fan with a light on it. If you have floating shelves or a dressing area, you could add under-cabinet lighting, too,” Norton mentions.

Find longevity with LEDs

“Whether it’s an LED bulb or LED integrated, the lifespan of the fixture is going to be much longer now,” Norton says, adding that “everything is going LED.” In addition to enhancing the longevity of bulbs and fixtures, LED lighting “uses less energy, so you’re going to see a turnaround in your electric bill,” and emits less heat than incandescent or halogen bulbs.

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