Fall Design - Light Your Way Home!

September 21, 2020 by University District

From LEDs to Candles, Top Ways to Illuminate Your Space in Style!


Fall is here and longer nights call for a fresh look at lighting decor!


Transitioning your home with lighting, especially for seasonal changes, can be an easy, affordable and impactful way to enliven a space with warmth while temperatures start to drop. 

The possibilities with lighting are countless to transform your living space in preparation for the cooler days and cozy nights. It’s tempting to change up the feel of a living space by shuffling furnishings, renewing bed linens or applying a fresh coat of paint. All of these can renew a space,  but overlook one key element — a common decor misstep — lighting!


Lighting is a simple solution that can change your whole outlook on your home space and there’s more to lighting than meets the eye. 


[CTA: Fall colours, fall layers, and fall textures…oh my! Bring the coziest decor season of the year to life in your home with some insider tips and ideas from resident interior designer with University District builder partner Brookfield Residential.]



At University District, our builder partners have designed beautiful homes that we love to showcase, and one thing we’ve learned over the years from their expertise is the importance of good lighting. Subtle, bold, bright, dimmable, energy efficient, today’s available options are almost endless and always impactful. 


Lighting is that one ingredient in designing a home that can turn a nice living space into a beautifully lit home that is uniquely yours.  From sconces to uplights, lamps to lanterns, and recessed ceiling fixtures to dramatic chandeliers, there are plenty of options. 


Cartwright Lighting & Furniture 


We looked no further than locally-owned Cartwright Lighting & Furniture to help shed some light (no pun intended) on how best to enhance a living space. This family-owned business started by Tony VandeKraats has grown over the years to be a lighting industry leader and has been the go-to lighting supplier for our builder partner Brookfield Residential. We spoke with Jenna Johannesen at Cartwright Lighting for insight on how best to transform your living spaces to be inviting, warm and versatile.

Tip: Unsure of what where to start? Cartwright’s showroom facility, the largest lighting showroom in Western Canada, is a great place to start. Stop by to chat with one of its knowledgeable team members for expert advice about selecting light fixtures to complement each other, working with your space and decor vision. 


Switch It Up


Size, style, placement and purpose all factor into lighting decisions. The right lighting has a way of affecting everything from our energy level to workspace efficiency. At home, the right light can support your routine too, whether it’s waking up in the morning or sending sleep-time cues to the kids. 


As we enter into the shorter days and transition into cooler months, how you light your home can make all the difference in helping you unwind from the day, put up your feet, enjoy your book, or prep the perfect meal. Layering light is always the best way to make sure you get “light and bright” when you need it and “comfy and cozy” when you don’t. It gives you options to play with lighting to guide the focus of the room, but it also enhances the space of certain areas you want to feature


Let’s break down the categories of lighting to consider as you prioritize your purchases: indoor and outdoor, portable or fixed, functional or decorative.


Indoor Lighting Decisions


Entrance Lights

From the moment you enter a home, lighting should set a tone and signal what to expect from the rest of your decor. Entryway options are typically ceiling mounted — think chandeliers, pot lights or dramatic modern statement lights — or well-placed portable lamps. Either way, consider whether the practical purpose is to light a mirror or piece of entryway art or, spotlight the spot you place your mail and keys?  Then decide on the right style. Do you favour contemporary over country, crystal over crafty? What you choose for your entrance sends cues to your visitors of what lies ahead!


Whether your preference is to have your light fixtures match, or to have a more curated, eclectic feel, there are a plethora of options to bring your vision to life. And Cartwright Lighting has stunning, eye-catching, curated lighting that are statement pieces to bring a room to another level. 


Living Room Lights

In your main living space, lighting can make you look good, feel good and be adjusted to suit your mood.  Whatever the source, lighting in your main space should be dimmable! There are sleek modern dimmers that can be hardwired into your room or part of portable lamp electrical cords or mounted switches. Living room lighting should come from many places to complement essential ceiling lights. Table lamps, light from a fireplace, accent candles and uplight in a corner can illuminate a plant.


Equally important is lighting key pieces of artwork you want to display. Function and feel are the most important considerations in this key living space. Similar to decor in a room, it’s best to mix up the design a little. Whether you’re playing with colour, textiles and furniture sizing, the space becomes more dynamic for you to be in…and lighting shouldn’t be treated any differently. 


Lighting in Personal Spaces

Bathroom and bedroom lights are also important to creating mood, looking your best and ensuring your guests look their best too! Consider wall sconces for a striking statement that saves space.


In your bathroom, installing a vanity light above or beside the mirror is typical, but there can be recessed lighting included in the shower, a decorative fixture at the centre of the space, and incorporate a dimmer for that control.


Candlelight accents — especially when naturally scented — are a wonderful way to charm a space in warmth with a spark of romance! Reading lights, lights above mirrors and mood lights are all factors to prioritize as you plan your space. Treat your light fixture as an important element of the room. It’s viewed as the finishing touch, or some might say the “jewelry” of the home.


Better yet, learn about toe kick lighting — this is your go-to in the middle night or in the early mornings when you don’t want a bright light shining down on you. “This is absolutely the best bathroom addition you could ask for!” says Jenna.


Lighting in the Kitchen


If there is one trend that we predict is here to stay in the kitchen is the dangling pendant! Even better in a trio or a pair. Accents of copper or bronze, brushed chrome or shiny stainless steel and plain or coloured glass draw the eye and concentrate a preparation or counter-style eating area. A close second is the easy installation of under-counter LED strips. Easy for anyone to install, the energy efficient light they cast transforms a kitchen into a modern workspace in no time.


For example, Jenna recommends that in the kitchen, we might look at recessed lighting in the central areas, pendant lighting over an island (on a separate switch) and under cabinet lighting over the work surfaces. Identify the key areas of the kitchen that you use the most. 


Bring the indoors out! There’s no need to shy away from your urban balcony or patio when considering lighting. Treat your outdoor space like it is an additional room and bring that same feeling from the living room, kitchen or bedroom into your outdoor space. Looking for some new ways to spice things up for your urban balcony or patio before the dreaded winter arrives? Take a look here for some design tips that are simple but give you the opportunity to maximize your outdoor living space!


Portable Plusses? 


When choosing lights, consider whether you would benefit from being able to move a floor lamp from the living room to the bedroom or study, Would the desk lamp you choose look just as snappy on your bedside? Portable lighting brings diversity to decor so pick a light that you can move on a whim! 


Right light for the job! Beyond decorative flourishes, lighting is essential to safety and optimal function in and around the house. Consider a motion sensitive puck LED for inside closets. Always have a flashlight with fresh batteries in a spot you can remember to look and find easily in the event of a power outage. Task lights that clip onto tables are handy as can be. Lighting in glass cabinets does wonders to show off your best china and crystal heirlooms. Look around and make a list of lights you need for your day-to-day tasks and lifestyle! 



Embrace Design for Ambiance and Inspiration


Beyond the practical and pretty perks of good lighting, a fixture you fancy can inspire creativity and serve up comfort in your home.  Architectural light fixtures are no longer just for high-end luxury homes. Statement lights can be incorporated into everyday life in any home. Don’t be afraid to express your style with different designs, from simple to elaborate, vintage to safe-bet transitional. Lighting choices — like most decor pics — should reflect your personality and character. Shine a little light on that!


How to decide: Ask yourself whether you prefer organic shapes to sharp, defined angles, neutrals or pops of colour, bright versus darker moody vibes.  All of these can be reflected in your lighting choices and influence a room.  Remember that rooms are typically designed to have lights centred; but creating contrast around the room is a great way to add some dimension. Mix and move lights until you get just the right ambiance for your special space. 


Lighting Trends


Similar to design and decor trends, lighting trends for 2021 can vary from finishings to structure, and industrial to abstract styles. There’s no “one size fits all” concept, nor should you be expected to settle for a default design! Now’s the time to explore and incorporate different types of materials, edgier looks, and artistic styles. 2020 was all about DIY and effectively creating long-term, homey nooks with task lighting, but in 2021, it feels like the sky’s the limit with options at hand.


What’s trending:

  • organic materials; rattan, stone and wood
  • mixed metals and mixed materials
  • soft metal finishes
  • geometric shapes
  • exposed bulbs
  • free-form/abstract shapes
  • light bulb/smart home technology


Tip: The ease of automated lighting on/off features is a start, but there’s more to creating a smart home that can make life simpler. We chatted with a specialist and technology expert about the importance of smart home automation and how to incorporate it into budget-friendly, home update projects. Keep reading here to learn more!!



Community Character


University District is a complete, sustainable community, and we’ve proudly been certified LEED-ND Platinum: an international certification that recognizes the highest commitment in leadership for energy and environmental design for neighbourhood development.


But there’s more! Just like your home, University District lighting — in streetscapes and in parks — has been carefully planned for safety, beauty and to set this community apart from any other, too!



So, what does that mean for residents and visitors? We asked U/D Senior Development Manager Travis Oberg.

“Look around U/D in the twilight to late night hours, and you will first notice the remarkable streetlights — modern but timeless — that are designed to be different from any other lamp standards in the city of Calgary,” says Travis. “Not only do they ensure the streets and sidewalks, courtyards and plazas are perfectly illuminated, those we chose for U/D have special pedestrian lights embedded in them near the base for the safety and enjoyment of people strolling or jogging our streets. Plus, these streetlamps allow us to affix street names on signs to help people find their bearings and way around U/D. They bring unique character to U/D.


“What people may be surprised by is how great lighting can bond the urban fabric  — especially in Calgary when our winters are long — while helping to distinguish the identity of an individual district. Our lighting is meant to encourage people outdoors, even when the weather is chilly.”


“Quality street lighting also defines a positive urban character and supports night-time activities which is especially important in Calgary’s cold and dark winters. All of the enhanced lighting at U/D contributes to a harmonious, uniform and coherent streetscape and park life!”



Did you know? University District has chosen and installed some truly distinct streetlights? You won’t find these anywhere else in Calgary! And another delightful surprise is the North Pond fountain which is illuminated nightly adding to the romance through light all around U/D.


Beyond energy efficiency, we’ve also ensured to reduce sky-glow from neighbourhood lights. You won’t find many uplights out of doors here for good reason: to keep skies dark.  Learn more about the Dark Skies Initiatives in Calgary led by UofC. Its Rothney Astrophysical Observatory is the southern Alberta representative for the International Dark Skies Association. Do your part and join its Citizen Science initiative here

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