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Romantic Lighting Made Simple

Restaurants are professionals when it comes to setting the right mood with lighting. Then again, so are dance clubs, bars, and any number of other institutions where lighting is a factor on the mood of the patrons. The good news is that a little knowledge on how lighting works and how to control its effects using the three layers of lightingwill set you on the road for creating the perfect romantic environment. Color Temperature, placement, and brightness all tie in as well.

The Three Layers for Romantic Lighting

Lighting for any room is layered based on application, task, or need. You may not be thinking about it consciously, but it’s likely that your home was designed for general ambient lighting and you have taken on the task of adding additional lights when needed.

Ambient Lighting is the general light source for the room. Ceiling lights or fixtures provide much of the ambient lighting you’ll find in a room. If you want a dining room that’s keyed for a romantic dinner, make sure that your ambient lighting is the least noticeable. Use a dimmer switch to ensure even lighting and make sure that you’re using bulbs with a warm-white color temperature (2700-3000K). Warm white light is cozier and often seen as more romantic.

Task Lighting, while usually applied to specific tasks such as a lamp in a reading nook or a desk light for working, applies here in the form of highlights. This is the fixture that lights the table at dinner. You want this light to be the same color temperature as the ambient lighting, but it needs to be brighter. A highlight fixture, candlelight, or even a fireplace is what you should be thinking of when it comes to task lighting for a romantic evening.

Accent Lighting is for general décor. In a trendy restaurant where they don’t list the prices on the menu you’ll find accent lights warming up arches, alcoves, or spotlighting dark corners. Most people don’t need a lot of accent lighting at dinner, but adding a few candles here and there around the room will help add a touch of class and warmth to dinner.

A Word on Dimming

Before starting your romantic evening, you should always test the lighting. Dimmers can be especially finicky when it comes to LED and fluorescent lights. The best advice we can give for dimming these bulbs is as follows:

  • Use the same light source on each circuit. Always buy matching LEDs or fluorescents and never mix the two lamps with each other or with incandescent lamps.
  • Get the same color temperature for all bulbs on the circuit.
  • Check your dimmer switch to make sure it’s compatible. Many LEDs will only accept special TRIAC dimmer switches. If you’re worried about whether or not a certain lamp will work, buy one and test it first.

Always test your lamps. It can be incredibly frustrating to set up a romantic evening only to have it ruined by buzzing and humming lights or by lights that won’t dim properly. Check far enough in advance so that you can get your circuit repaired or replaced if needed. One good test and you’ll be ready to go!