High-tech lighting in an old house? Why not, provided it’s well-placed and unobtrusive? Even the most ardent lover of vintage lighting must admit there are certain situations where recessed spots, LED bars or strips, and wall washers are indispensible—or at least convenient. Where would we be in the kitchen, for example, without under-cabinet lighting? Perhaps in the hospital, getting a finger stitched up. (A 60-year-old needs 10 times as much light as a 20-year-old to perform a given task with equal speed and accuracy.)
While we wouldn’t recommend ripping out a plaster ceiling for recessed lights, “points of light” have their purposes. Use them to light a dark corridor or amp up the illumination in rooms where traditional forms of lighting just aren’t bright enough. (Recessed lights are easy to place on dimmers, too). The directional lamps called wall washers will bring out the details in, say, a painted frieze.
Whether your taste runs to colonial wire-arm chandeliers or hammered copper with mica shades, period-inspired lighting is easy to love. But are reproductions really functional in this age of halogen lamps and organic LEDs?