Entryway Lighting

We’re again fortunate to have this week’s article guest written by Lesli Baker, a professional lighting design teacher and consultant. She can be reached by email at lessercraft@hotmail.com.  This week, she tackles entryway lighting.

A home is judged first by how a visitor feels upon entry. Is the entryway or foyer warm and inviting? Or cold and formal? The entry way is your visitor’s first impression and an indication of what style one might find in the rest of the house. Ambient and decorative light is a welcoming touch to even the smallest entry space. A soft, glow in a warm tone helps a visitor feel at ease. Entry light should not only calm, but also excite a person’s first impression by bringing focused attention to artwork, sculpture and other focal points of interest such as a special flower arrangement.

During daylight hours use windows or skylights when available to provide some of the ambient light needed in an entry. In the evening, lighting can be used in many clever ways to illuminate as well as decorate. One of the most common fixture choices for this application is one decorative luminaire, such as a chandelier, in the center of the space. If this is the choice made, make sure the fixture hangs no lower than 6’8” from the floor. A drawback of this choice is that only one large fixture in the center of the ceiling draws all of the attention. Your artwork or interesting architectural details fall into lesser importance. A smart option is to add additional light sources to eliminate shadow, like a pair of opaque glass or faux alabaster wall sconces on either side of a piece of art, while dimming that center placed chandelier, creating an even level of light throughout.

Note- mount opaque-bottom wall sconces above eye level so bulbs are not spotted- and be careful when mounted them near stairwells- a beautiful sconce on the first floor is a bare bulb looking down from the second floor!

A stairwell near or in an entry is also a point of interest and a good place to use light as a decorative element. Glass wall sconces used in a lower part of the space can be brought up a stairwell for a well-coordinated look that flows easily.

A quick and easy way to add ambient light to an entryway without installing wall sconces is the formal torchiere. This is an up-light floor lamp of a high-end variety. Remember to choose a torchiere with a solid reflector type shade that provides up-lighting only. Two of these can also flank a nice piece of artwork, or even a large mirror to help a small entryway feel larger. Lighting directed upwards towards the ceiling helps to open up a space and makes it feel larger. Lighting pointed down towards the floor can make a space feel smaller by leaving the ceiling area darker and therefore feel lower. This isn’t always a bad thing in an entry with a very high ceiling, such as in some contemporary home plans, this effect can create intimacy when needed.

Another subtle and creative way to add interest with light in the entry is to incorporate architectural detail into the lighting scheme. Cove lighting near the ceiling using linear fluorescent light sources can be hidden behind molding details to up light the ceiling along the perimeter of a space. Not only is this a pretty effect, but it can also make an entry feel larger by making the ceiling seem higher.

Recessed lighting in the ceiling with adjustable spots to highlight artwork and other details, brings focused attention and drama.

Your entryway is an important invitation to the rest of your house for your guests. Let it be an exciting one that really impresses!