Basement finishing is an economical and practical solution for additional living space. However, basements differ from main floor living space in many ways. If steps are not taken to control moisture and air quality, basements can become permeated with coolness and dampness.
Basements tend to have less natural lighting options because of the expense of egress windows and doors. Exploring lighting system options can help to maximize the use of natural light and dispel the gloom typical of traditional unfinished basements. An electrician would be the ideal professional to consult about choosing a lighting system.
Take full advantage of the available natural light. Choose simple window treatments that allow light to filter in. Opaque materials will block daylight, making it necessary to use the same intensity of artificial light during daylight hours as at night. Lighter and more neutral colors are better choices because they tend to brighten the surroundings.
Using lighter-colored wall shades will also brighten the space, and the natural light is refracted more broadly throughout the space. If using a contrasting color scheme, choose to target small areas with the darker shade. Mirrors not only provide the illusion of enlarging the space, but with strategic placement function to reflect the incoming natural light sources.
A good choice for generalized overhead lighting is the use of four-foot fluorescent light fixtures. Look for reflective backing and electronic ballasts. Task lighting can be strategically placed instead of using continuous overhead lighting. The lights can always be moved should a different furniture arrangement be desired.
Recessed lights are a great option for general overall lighting, and the surface fixtures are less likely to be broken by children at play. They exude an open atmosphere. Ensure adequate room in the ceiling to accommodate the depth of the fixtures. Shallow housings are needed for basements where there is limited vertical installation space. Consider selecting incandescent lights; the brilliant white light helps dispel any gloom in basement areas.
Surface-mounted spotlights and directional lights are perfect for decorative lighting effects. Use them in place of track lights and recessed lights to highlight pictures and architectural elements such as arches or columns.
Utilizing narrow beam lamps can selectively create more dramatic effects on objects or artwork. Spotlights and directional lights are a good option for providing task lighting in kitchens, bathrooms, offices, or other areas requiring it.
Incandescent track lights illuminate with brilliant white light. They are perfect for giving basement space a more finished look. Strategic placement can highlight areas such as shelves, furniture pieces, artwork, etcetera. Track lights can also be used to brighten stretches that are shadowed such as along walls, under cabinets, above mantels, darkened corners, and etcetera. The possibilities are infinite!
When choosing specific task lights, analyzing the expected frequency and specific activities will help in selecting the best options. A variety of options would include fluorescent under-cabinet lighting, desk lamps, dimmer switches on overhead lighting, and three-way lamps. For more diffuse and uniform lighting, place A-lamp multipliers.
Keeping a few areas constantly illuminated in the basement living space is a good safety feature. Choosing 4-watt mini fluorescent or electroluminescent night lights are more efficient than incandescent bulbs. They can ideally be placed near exit and entrance paths, by circuit breaker panels, in bathrooms, and at the top and bottom of the stairway.
Plenty of options exist to conserve energy. Turn off lights when rooms are no longer in use. Programming timers, selecting photo cells, or installing occupancy sensors eliminates lights burning when not being utilized. Occupancy sensors are ideal for basements because they not only are energy-efficient, but they offer hands-free convenience. This convenience is especially appreciated when going up and down stairways.
Because basements are more challenging to light, it is cost-effective to carefully plan and select the best choices prior to installation. Proper lighting will enhance the atmosphere of the living space. With optimal lighting selections, the basement will not be neglected in favor of the main floor living space.
Making the most of the available natural light and the most appropriate artificial lighting selections will provide an enjoyable, safe, and energy-efficient area to share with your family and friends for years to come!
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