Women and the Home

Lights and Shades

In no department of the household has research added so many comfort-promoting and decorative devices in recent years as in lighting

F. L. DEN. SCOTT January 15 1931
Women and the Home

Lights and Shades

In no department of the household has research added so many comfort-promoting and decorative devices in recent years as in lighting

F. L. DEN. SCOTT January 15 1931

Lights and Shades

Women and the Home


In no department of the household has research added so many comfort-promoting and decorative devices in recent years as in lighting

IN THE ideal home lights are always just where they are wanted. More than this, lights are always just the kind that are wanted. It may be a strong, clear light to play games, a steady, mellow glow to read by, the diffused cheerful radiance which makes the right atmosphere for conversation and easy social intercourse. There is, too, nowadays the “daytime” light for use on gloomy days in which a special bulb lightens a room in a not too artificial manner.

Light switches, too, are always just where they are most convenient for turning on and off. It is decidedly awkward to grope around a room in search of the switch, stubbing toes and bruising knees; just as awkward to turn off the light and fumble toward the door in search of the switch in the next room. Switches should be at points where one can easily turn the lights on before entering the room, then turn off as one is leaving the room. For the very best results, wiring plans are made when the house is being built, with the scheme of the room and the number and kind of articles of furniture to be used kept

in mind. In this way switches and outlets are always where they are needed.

Changes In Lighting Customs

VJL7HEN electricity first came into general use the centre light was a very important, often the only, fixture. Large sums were spent on this ornament, which was as elaborate as the purse could afford. In living rooms there were hard, clear glass bulbs set in intricacies of brass or suspended by metal chains; in the dining room was a large glass-shaded light over the table shedding an uncompromising glare over the table top but leaving the corners in murky gloom; bedrooms had simpler fixtures which were of no value for reading, or dressing or finding things in the cupboard.

Today, modern taste tones down lighting. The centre ceiling fixture has disappeared in many homes, wall sconces being the only permanent fixture. Outlets to which floor and table

serve admirably for purposes of illumination. In general, in the modern scheme, lights uro of two kinds; the purely utilitarian or practical, by which is meant lights chosen primarily for reading or sewing or dressing or playing games, and lights to dispel the darkness and carry out the decorative scheme.

As in every other element of decorative schemes, best results are obtained from planning the entire room on paper before putting into the room itself a single object. Professional decorators make floor plans, as a matter of course, then make drawings or sketches of the furniture to scale. The latter are cut out and placed on the floor plan in every conceivable manner until the perfect result is obtained. After which it is a very simple matter to group the pieces. When such a plan is followed for lighting, comfort is increased astonishingly.

Before moving into a new house or at seasons when the annual housecleaning orgy takes place, it is well to give some thought to lighting plans. After having lived in one house for years, householders are surprised at results following a really critical estimate of their homes. Many trivial things which could be done to improve the appearance of a room or to increase comfort have gone undone simply because the inhabitants have taken for granted so long the petty discomforts and inconveniences which are no longer necessary. A few years ago, for instance, rooms depended on centre lights for general illumination. Today the modern diffused light lamps serve that purpose far better. A few years ago, as a great concession, there might have been three or four floor outlets in a house; one in the kitchen for the percolator, one in the bedroom for the "new fashioned” bed lights, one in the living room for the piano lamp, and one for the lamp on the table in the window. Today we have anywhere from two to eight in one room without considering ourselves unduly extravagant.

How many lamps should there be in the well-lighted room? At what points will these lamps be placed? What kind of lights should there be? What strength bulb should be used for various purposes? These are the questions always asked by householders when considering lighting plans.

In the living room the ceiling fixture is being eliminated more and more, and wall brackets are coming into more general favor. If there is a mantel, a pair of brackets, two lights to each, will be placed one at each end. Then, following the logical source of light, the window, another pair of brackets may be put in the wall on each side of that. This plan is wise for it gives the room the same appearance by night as by day, and, since many rooms are furnished around the window, altering the source of light sometimes throws out the decorative scheme. If i there is an important wall decoration— painting, hanging or some treasured possession—a pair of brackets might be needed there. Some form of illumination would surely be necessary. In panelled rooms there is commonly a bracket on each side of each large panel.

The floor outlets for lamps would depend upon family activities. Each grouping of furniture is entitled to one; the reading corner, the piano or radio, the general table, the corner for games. The nearer the outlet to the spot where the lamp rests, the better the appearance of the room. Lengths of electric cord are unsightly and awkward.

In the dining room there should be a pair of brackets over the buffet and one over the serving table. There may also be two pairs at the window (in a large proportion of dining rooms there is only one window). More brackets are, of course, optional and depend upon the color of the wall and the size of the room. Since many families nowadays like the pleasant glow of candles on the table, these may replace some of the permanent fixtures. Softly shaded lamps, not too large, may be used on the buffet and serving table instead of wall brackets, and give a very pleasing effect. Needless to say, they should all be alike.

The kitchen is commonly the most neglected room in the house, from the lighting standpoint, having usually only a centre ceiling fixture. There is no doubt that better cooked food and fewer broken dishes might result if the stove and sink were adequately lighted. Brackets at these places should have down-turned reflectors.

In the bedroom it is considered desirable to have lights around the principal pieces of furniture; brackets on each side of the dresser, the dressing table, and the chifforobe if it has a mirror. Otherwise, this might not be necessary. Each bed should have a duplex floor outlet. The bedlight is a modern necessity, and the small night lamp on the bedside table is being widely used. There should be floor outlets near the chair and the day-bed or chaise longue, if this is used.

Every woman who has had to grope through dark cupboards for lost articles will appreciate adequate lighting in clothes cupboards. The cost is very low but the average householder is usually aghast at the thought of lighting the cupboard. However, this is one place where good light is a necessity.

In the bathroom lights on each side of a mirror should be accepted as a matter of course. Sometimes women have a light above the mirror as well. For bathroom use electricians are supplying hard, cruel lights that are pitiless in what they reveal but which ensure good grooming. These are ideal in the bathroom.

In living rooms we are using, more and more, the new indirect lamps which have reflectors inside the shade. They send a flood of light to the ceiling and evenly illuminate the whole room with soft,

diffused light. This light is ideal for casual conversation or relaxation. Two hundred watts for the ordinary room, three hundred watts for the larger room is about the requisite strength. Care must be taken to place these lamps where the light reaches the ceiling and not the side walls, and most certainly out of range of the eye, as the light is far too strong when it falls on a reflecting surface lower than the ceiling.

In the average living room of the average family where reading, sewing, homework, radio operation may all be going on at the same time, the usual requirement is five lamps, with a total of about 350 watts of electricity. For most lamps, the sixty-watt bulb is suitable.

Wall Brackets and Shades

TALL brackets should have frosted ^ * bulbs and should be shaded. Silk, parchment, the new theatrical gauze—all these make decorative shades. Common brown wrapping paper may be pressed into use. It may be decorated with silhouettes or drawings, then shellacked (after the shade has been made, of course) or it may be treated with linseed oil in which some pigment has been dissolved. Make a newspaper pattern of the shade wanted, then cut the shade out of the paper. Decorate as desired and give one of the above finishes. Holes may be made with a punch and the shade attached to the frame with very narrow braid. Soutache is commonly used.

In general, the flame colors are best for lamp shades; yellow, rose, apricot, coral, orange, flame. It is permissible to make shades of other colors if the outer covering is very sheer and there is a double-lining thickness of yellow or cream color. In this way the lamp may carry out the color scheme and still give a clear, cheerful light.

In size, lamp shades should follow these rules: the diameter of the shade should be the height of the base, and the height of the shade should be two-thirds of the base.

In some rooms where ceiling fixtures cannot be eliminated, a solution of the difficulty is presented by the use of parchment or silk drums which completely cover the unsightly fixture. It is exceedingly difficult to make these at home, but professionals will make up drums to conceal various types and sizes of fixtures and carry out prevailing color schemes. Next to removing the fixture entirely, this is the best possible treatment.

Modernistic lamps have metal shades which are very pleasing. The light is directed just where it is needed, either on to the book or other occupation, or up to the ceiling for reflection. These may be made at home by amateur craftsmen from discarded tins of the proper size and shape. Then they are painted with enamel or silver. The black ones look very smart in the right setting. A stunning lamp resulted from a clever combination of a discarded bottle and a round candy tin. The bottle, enamelled a bright orange, supported a shade of black enammelled tin with open top, which made possible diffused lighting.

For proper placing, wall brackets should be about seventy-two inches from the floor. Wall brackets in the bathroom near the mirror should be about sixty-six inches from the floor; just above eye level, which averages about sixty inches from the floor. Women who like to sit at the dressing table will use tall lamps; those who stand will use short lamps.

The bedlight should have a decided flare to throw the light down and out. The average bedlight throws the light on to the back of the head, with resultant eye strain.

There are lamps and shades for every purpose. In no other field of household comfort has research added so many devices in recent years.