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Let there be (good) light

Lighting serves a functional purpose as well as setting a mood
by: Scott Keith TAMMY LEFEVER

You may have heard of 'light therapy,' where bright lights can lift a person's spirits. Just walk through a shopping mall on a dark, stormy autumn evening and notice how all those bright lights and colors prompt your senses to wake up.

The same is true of your home. You don't want a dimly lit living room or a dark hallway where you can trip over your cat or your child's toy. Fall may be just the time to upgrade your lighting. Your guests will be impressed, and it might just help sell your home.

Tammy Lefever, president of Interior Motives in Tigard, uses her interior designing skills to make sure homes display bright, visitor-friendly lamps and lighting fixtures.

Lefever, who started out as an art major and has worked on more than 20 'Street of Dreams' projects, says lighting is one of the most important factors in improving your home environment.

There are different kinds of lights to consider if you are thinking about a home lighting makeover. Lefever says ambient lighting is background lighting that 'brings in the outdoors.' Accent lighting highlights your prized possessions, or perhaps your fireplace. Task lighting illuminates a work area, such as a desk. Decorative lighting would include such items as table lamps, ceiling fixtures and chandeliers.

Decorative lighting can really improve the overall look of your home and make it more modern, says Lefever, adding that she's doing a project now where a homeowner is changing out her dining room and her entry fixtures.

Decorative lighting areas include the dining room, entry area and nook, although, says Lefever, it's more exciting to use lighting fixtures in new ways. She says a designer can help you place the lights correctly, adding, 'You really want to get some professional advice.'

If you're trying to sell your home, decorative lighting is important. Lefever says a beautiful, new light fixture needs to be in the right scale for the space.

'A lot of times, people will get too small of a light fixture over a dining room table. It's hardly ever too big. Just by getting the proportion correctly, it will make a huge difference,' says Lefever.

Jessica Lee, a broker with Realty Trust Group in Lake Oswego, sees the importance of lighting from a Realtor's point of view.

'I think in Oregon, especially, when our gloomy days seem to outnumber our bright and sunny days, the lighting can be really important, because you'll walk into this home, and if it's got a dark, kind of cave-like feel, it's not going to be a very welcoming environment,' says Lee.

Not only can lights give the home a brighter appearance, they're also important from a decorative perspective.

'Lighting can quickly date a home back to the '80s or '90s - it's just one more thing on the check list that buyers do look at as they go through the home,' says Lee, adding that you only get one chance to make a first impression.

When Lefever visits a home, she wants to make sure there's enough task lighting. That's of No. 1 importance if you're going to perform any task in your home, says Lefever. Ambient light is another concern, especially if it's too dark in the house.

'That can usually be solved easily either by an electrician (with additional candle lights) or by visiting a store like ours and purchasing new lamps.'

If you're involved with new construction, Lefever says accent lighting can be fun. Sometimes, says Lefever, you can put a little floor lamp behind a beautiful tree to provide mood lighting. The idea is to create a mood, or ambience.

Lighting can also help you show off special features in your home. Lefever says, 'You (may) want to highlight a picture or some beautiful texture on a fireplace, or maybe you want to accent a collection that you have.'