Invite list…theme…food…drinks…lighting? Chances are, when planning a gathering at your home, lighting doesn’t make the to-do list. However, lighting can be an important supporting player for a successful party. It helps establish the mood, create a vibe and highlight your home’s best features.
Where do you start? Begin by envisioning the areas where you entertain from your guests’ vantage point.
Set the scene
You want guests to feel welcome right from the curb. Consider installing decorative, energy-saving, low-voltage landscape lights to illuminate a path to your door. Not only is this important for safety but it also creates ambiance at night.
After your guests have walked through your beautifully lit landscape, do not blast them with a bright lantern at the door. During a party, you can temporarily screw in flicker bulbs for an old-fashioned look or silk-wrapped bulbs that offer less glare.
Look at the front of your property and decide which areas to highlight. Place lights in front of specific plants, trees and shrubbery to create interesting shadows. If you live in a neighborhood where many homes look alike, great outdoor lighting can make yours stand out.
If the party is in the backyard, lighting can heighten the festive atmosphere. Gardens can come alive at night with strategically-placed uplighting, tiki torches, paper lanterns or string lights. The combination of foliage textures and garden colors can create an unforgettably romantic and mysterious atmosphere for your guests.
Come on in
Because the foyer is the first impression of your home, the space should be inviting and the lighting adequate enough for visitors to perform a quick check in a nearby mirror. For that reason, the light level should be similar to the rest of the house. Consider increasing foyer lighting as guests start to leave so they can find their belongings if stored in a nearby coat closet.
Inside the living spaces during a party, remember that everyone looks better in lower levels of light (restaurants know this very well). When entertaining, there is no reason to over-light. Use dimmers to provide lower light levels for recessed lighting or chandeliers. If your lamps aren’t equipped with three-way switches, there are lamp dimmers on the market that will help you control the amount of light in the room.
In the kitchen
In the kitchen, layering of different types of lighting is important and dimmers can be your best friend. When you’re preparing for a party and cleaning up afterward, bright light is ok. However, during the party, do you really want to draw attention to the unglamorous aspects of entertaining? That’s when accent lighting works its magic and there are numerous techniques that may work for your kitchen. Examples include uplighting the soffits above the cabinets, highlighting a cove, undercabinet fixtures, toekick lighting or illuminating the interior of glass-fronted cabinetry.
If you don’t already have a decorative fixture over the island or breakfast nook, it is a worthwhile investment. These fixtures supply helpful downlighting while also adding beauty to a utilitarian room. During the party, dim any pendants, island lights or breakfast nook fixtures to give a wonderful, subtle glow to the room. Turn off the overhead lights.
If food will be available in the kitchen, keep the undercabinet lights on to facilitate serving. As well, lighting at the toekick and over the cabinets will add intrigue and interest to the room.
In closing, guests may not remember the lighting in your home, but they will remember the mood and ambiance it creates. Have fun with lighting – it’s a party, after-all!
– Beth Caston
Lighting Specialist at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery