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The Importance of Layered Lighting and Other Things I Noted When Visiting Arkansas

We just got back from a long weekend in Arkansas renting a river front cabin near Eureka Springs. We explored the river, fished, caved at War Eagle Cavern, visited Top of the Rock at Big Cedar, relaxed, ate, and finished the trip at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, a MUST visit if you are in the area.

It was a great weekend but true to my profession I couldn't turn off the designer in me. Our accommodations were clean and updated and cabin'y' but the first night I was reminded of the importance of proper lighting when designing a space. Sufficient light can relieve eye strain, create visual warmth, boost mood, and promote lingering activities like playing games and reading.

Let's take a closer look at the rooms here at the cabin.

The room below had an authentic cabin vibe with log walls and a wood burning stove but the lighting (and furniture layout...but I digress) was not inviting. The only light sources were the overhead fan light, the directional sconces at the fireplace and the lone table lamp. This was the room I wanted to spend the most time in reading and enjoying a nice fire but it was almost painful to sit in here (even during the day).

The shadows tell the story. The overhead light was not in the center of the room so it didn't help to light the space evenly. The sconces were big and bright and provided almost too much light in that area. I wouldn't have wanted them on if a fire were burning and then the room would be in real trouble. And finally the table lamp was too low. I tried to read in that chair but I found I had to tilt my book towards the light and didn't last very long.

Even the kitchen lacked sufficient light. See those shadows again? The sink was sufficiently lit (almost too sufficient) but the overhead light was again not in the center of the room so the back side of the island was dark. I found myself wanting to get in and out of there as well.

Above is an addition of sorts. This room is where we spent most of our time but the lighting was BRIGHT! All overhead canned lights and nothing else. But even with the lights on the eating area had dark areas...see those shadows?

Needles to say, I wanted to immediately arrange furniture (well, buy all new furniture, ha!), add side tables for lamps, and hire an electrician to move and hang overhead lighting. But alas, the handbook prohibited me from doing just that (it specifically called out moving furniture - ha!) so I'm using that energy to remind you that well planned indoor lighting is important. Maybe even essential. Like needing to see the sun after days of cloud-filled skies. And I will continue to talk extensively about lighting with my really is the unsung hero of interior design.

While we all consider adding more indoor light into our lives we can bask in the glory of this Montana lodge designed by the great Markham Roberts. Note the ample lighting sources. Bravo.

And while I have your attention...two more things I noted while on this trip. One. People snack more than eat meals on plan your meals and then take away two. Kind of like packing clothes...coordinate your outfits and then leave one at home. :) It had been awhile since I'd planned food for a trip so lesson learned.

Two. I could get into shuffleboard. The place we were staying had an indoor tabletop version and it was quite fun. Really fun in fact. Plus the average age of players is 65 so it's right up my alley.

Well, that's it from Arkansas. Worth a visit! And let me know your observations on your lighting needs. We could all use a little boost.

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