How To Use Lighting To Accent Wall Hangings

Techniques and ideas on how to use display lighting to accent wall hangings.

When it comes to displaying any kind of wall hangings, using the correct lighting techniques is essential. Poor lighting can result in a lack of depth perception and flattening of the artwork. With different types of bulbs and lighting angles, however, you can bring out the artwork's color and depth while creating a unique focal point to your home.

There are generally three ways to light art, depending on the object being hung and the amount of space available to the area. Picture or wall-mount lighting can be attached directly to the hanging or wall itself. These types of lighting may also be placed above or beneath the hanging as well. Track lighting is one of the most flexible forms of lighting wall hangings. Individual fixtures can be placed as needed and mixed with various light sources or fixture types in order to provide the artwork with different lighting effects, such as spotlighting. Fixtures can be moved, rotated, and aimed in any direction along the track. This method of lighting is quite effective for highlighting groups of artwork. Recessed lighting is normally inconspicuous and blends into its surroundings. There are many types and styles with which can be used. They can be installed in ceilings, under cabinets, or shelves; and they are often used for downlighting artwork.

The best method for displaying art is to hang it in an area away from direct sunlight, excessive temperature changes, or high humidity areas. While natural light from the sun can look quite nice, the ultraviolet (UV) rays with which sunlight emits can damage works of art. Prints, paintings, photos, etc. will fade over a period of time as well as such things as quilts or wall rugs. Areas with continual temperature changes or high humidity may cause art to warp and will also shorten the life of wall hangings. Lighting should be placed and adjusted so the actual source of light is invisible. The lighting should highlight the wall hanging rather than the wall itself and should bring out its natural color while adding intensity and depth to the artwork.

There are different types of light that may be used for displaying wall hangings. While some people use fluorescent light, this is generally not recommended as it gives off high amounts of UV rays much like that of sunlight. This can be quite harmful to artwork. Fluorescent lights also do not emit light across the color spectrum which can result in a flattening effect. Incandescent lights are good for bringing out warm colors in artwork, such as red, brown, orange, and yellow tones. This type of light, however, may flatten works of art containing cool colors, blue, green, and violet tones. Halogen lights emit a strong, white light. They are usually among the best lighting options for most types of artwork. The combination of a low-watt halogen and incandescent light is also quite suitable.

Lighting is critical when used with artwork. Just the slightest adjustment in the direction or type of light used can make all the difference. Carefully choosing the type of art you are hanging, the area it will be hung, and the type of lighting used will not only highlight your most treasured works but will enable you preserve and enjoy the object for years to come.

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