Your single source for design and construction excellence. 847.770.6303

Think “TADA!” To Light Up Your Rooms

Posted on December 16th, by in Renovation. Comments Off on Think “TADA!” To Light Up Your Rooms

Whether it’s a small Powder Room or large two-story Family Room, lighting plays a big part in the ambience and emotional impact of the space. This is why I spend so much time on lighting design for all our projects, and why homeowners should think about all the things that lighting can do to paint the scene.

Kitchen Lighting      Dining Lighting

Room lighting is more than a way to illuminate objects. When done properly, it enhances everything else in the room — enabling people to process information, performs tasks safety, and appreciate the artwork, colors and furnishings defining the space. So I always begin by asking our clients several questions before I start working on lighting design:

[list style=”check”]
  • Are the activities in the room active or passive?
  • What is the room size and shape?
  • What is the exterior orientation of the room?
  • Is natural light in abundance? At what times?
  • Who will use the space?

Energy savings and low-maintenance convenience are factors, of course, but should not override visual interest. Simply throwing light around, with everything at the same brightness, is boring to the eyes and senses. Layering light is an important principle, and today’s control systems (dimmers, switches and timers) not only provide lifestyle-friendly illumination from your lighting fixtures, but also save energy and extend the life for the bulbs and lamps inside them.

Bedroom Lighting

As I design a space with light, I keep in mind the aptly named acronym TADA — which stands for Task, Ambient, Decorative and Accent light sources. It’s the mixture of these different types of lighting that keeps spaces interesting and welcoming. By definition:


Task lighting enables a person to accomplish a specific task, such as mirror lighting in the bathroom or undercabinet lighting above a kitchen cutting board.


Ambient lighting provides the general illumination you might find in a foyer, hallway or bedroom.


Decorative lighting includes sconces, chandeliers and other fixtures that dress up an area.


Accent lighting highlights specific objects, such as a spotlight on hanging artwork, custom wood millwork, or a tile backsplash.


Some of the lighting principles I follow include:

[list style=”check”]


  • Control systems can refocus a room or space into different light settings to suit clients’ activities and moods
  • Task lighting should be used sparingly; it is not always necessary
  • Ambient lighting can be overpowering, so avoid overdoing it which will lead to an annoying glare
  • Decorative lighting tends to sparkle even more when it has just a soft glow to it
  • Accent lighting has even more punch when the other lighting in the room is subdued [/list]



So keep TADA in mind when you light an area, and that can be exactly what your guests will say. My thanks to Kathie Leslie from Lutron Electronics for sharing her vast lighting wisdom with me, and I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!




Michael Menn


Comments are closed.