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Form and function figure into lighting

| Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 8:48 p.m.

With home decor, the items we use most every day, such as doors or chairs, often can be taken for granted. And so it is with lighting.

Illuminating our homes, especially during this time of year, when night overtakes day by early evening, is a necessity. But there's more to lights than just function. Looks and feel also play integral roles.

“From an aesthetic point of view, lighting we like to equate to jewelry,” says Paula Minton, general manager of Kentucky Lighting & Supply.

Minton and her staff ask customers about the style of the space.

“We want to know what are you feeling when you're in the room,” she says. “We try to hone in on what we in the trade think of as masculine — clean, kind of boxy — and feminine — maybe more ornate with slimmer lines with a lot of high design.”

There's an amazing array of types of lighting: table lamps, sconces, pendants and chandeliers, to name a few. To choose the best style for a room, it's best to think about how the lights will be used.

“There's some practical consideration, like the amount of light you need for the task, the size of the room, what the use of the room is,” Minton says. “Are there tasks carried out there, or are you interested in ambient light? Do you want the fixture to be a focal point, or do you want it to disappear?”

It also pays to be conscious of energy use. The American Lighting Association, a trade group representing the lighting industry in the United States and Canada, offers energy-saving lighting tips from Joe Rey-Barreau. Rey-Barreau suggests replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. For an inviting glow, choose products labeled “residential color,” “warm” or “soft white.”

Harriett Hendren is a staff writer for Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader.

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