Light It Right

Prop­erly il­lu­mi­nat­ing a tim­ber home is more im­por­tant than you may re­al­ize. For­tu­nately, with some knowhow, it’s also easy.

Timber Home Living - - Contents - BY STACY DURR AL­BERT

Prop­erly il­lu­mi­nat­ing a tim­ber home is more im­por­tant than you may re­al­ize. For­tu­nately, with some knowhow, it’s also easy.

Soar­ing ceil­ings and tim­ber homes go hand in hand. Af­ter all, what bet­ter way to show­case the beauty of a tim­ber-framed struc­ture than with an open, vaulted space?

While this hall­mark fea­ture of tim­ber homes cer­tainly im­parts a sense of gran­deur, it also poses unique chal­lenges when it comes to light­ing. How do you light a high, vaulted space with­out cre­at­ing shad­ows? How do you cre­ate light that is bright enough, yet not over­pow­er­ing? If wood ab­sorbs so

much light, how can you pre­vent the setting from feel­ing too dark?

The good news is that with a lit­tle fore­thought and care­ful plan­ning, you can light up your tim­ber home just right. Here are a few point­ers to get you started.


While it may be tempt­ing to go out and splurge on your fa­vorite fix­tures, don’t jump the gun. With tim­ber homes, it’s best to pre-plan light­ing, es­pe­cially the lo­ca­tion of sus­pended fix­tures (such as chan­de­liers) since the wiring needs to be in­stalled be­fore the roof is fin­ished. In ad­di­tion, to pre­vent shad­ows and dim spots, you’ll need to di­rect light­ing up, down and cross­ways — also im­pact­ing your wiring re­quire­ments. Visit elec­tri­cal show­rooms and talk to a light­ing de­signer about your plan. A tim­ber home’s il­lu­mi­na­tion needs are very dif­fer­ent from a con­ven­tional house, and your light­ing de­sign should re­flect this.


Be­fore you choose light­ing for each room, think about the in­tent of the space. Is the room a place where you’ll need to fo­cus on pa­per­work and com­put­ers? Is it a gath­er­ing space where your fam­ily will watch TV? The room’s func­tion will de­ter­mine your light­ing needs. Also con­sider the style of each room. Track light­ing may work bet­ter for con­tem­po­rary decor, while ta­ble lamps and pen­dant lights would be a bet­ter fit in a tra­di­tional setting.


In a tim­ber home, ac­cent light­ing can be used to high­light beams and other ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures. In­cor­po­rate up­light­ing to ac­cen­tu­ate spe­cific frame de­tails. You can cre­ate am­biance with a cross-light de­sign on your tim­ber trusses and ceil­ing. A gen­eral guide­line is that the lights on the right should point to the left of the cen­ter point of the ceil­ing, and vice-versa. A light­ing de­signer will help you choose the right fix­tures to achieve this type of dra­matic glow.


Team­work is crit­i­cal in a tim­ber home, so when plan­ning your light­ing scheme, have your elec­tri­cian talk with your in­te­rior de­signer, tim­ber frame com­pany, ar­chi­tect, etc. Don’t wait to think about light­ing un­til af­ter the frame is raised. Pre-plan for wiring and fix­tures be­fore the first beam is cut. Af­ter all, you may have the most beau­ti­ful tim­bers on the planet, but if they’re hid­den be­hind dark shad­ows, you won’t be able to ap­pre­ci­ate them to their fullest.

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