The manner and the materials we use to light our homes has certainly changed drastically since humans first used hollowed out rocks which held lit animal fat soaked moss. You can imagine that the first “lamps” probably didn’t have very far reaching effects and probably didn’t smell very nice either. Fireplaces were often used to light spaces as well, but this often led to smoke filled rooms and the amount of work it took to have any type of reliable light source made fireplaces not the most practical of light options.
Probably the most basic form of light is the simple candle. It’s been around for centuries and offered a very mobile light source; most readers and writers kept several very close on their work tables. Kerosene lamps were functional, portable, and could be decorated in a variety of colours with much detail for upper class families. They could also tip easily and more than one family found themselves out of house or without a barn after a tragic kerosene lamp fire.
With the advent of incandescent bulbs, the world opened up with regards to both the type of lighting and also the type of fixtures we could use. Although these were all the rage when first introduced, the originals would look like dinosaurs when it comes to their level of poor energy efficiency compared to today’s fixtures. The biggest and most advantageous thing to hit our markets in recent history is the creation of the LED bulb. It gives us incredible lighting, is safe to use in our homes and businesses, and has remarkable energy efficiency.
From the Victorian age, through the Art Deco stage of the 1920’s and 30’s, moving forward through the disco era of the 70’s, to now, light fixtures followed trends along with the rest of the home. Colours, decorative touches and how elaborate or plain shades and stands were depended on the design trends from decade to decade. Light fixtures have transitioned from being solely functional to adding decorative interest in our spaces and becoming a key element when we design our rooms.
One of the key differences between light fixtures of before and light fixtures now is the versatility that we enjoy. We still need lighting in key areas, but we no longer have to move our lamps from place to place and lighting is installed depending on what task will be served in which location. In our bathrooms, we often have task and mood lighting, as this room often serves both a high function, but also has the ability to let us create a very Zen like space for relaxation. The light fixtures that allow us to relax often include a dimmer which allows for a calming, low light during our bath. Another great evolution in light fixtures comes partly thanks to an evolution in other home building materials. We’ll use the bathroom as another example. With fixtures like steam showers, tubs and what not, bathrooms enable constant water use and yet our light fixtures allow for plenty of steam and moisture to gather in that environment without the lights experiencing a short or the development of some other hazard. Our light fixtures serve as great protection for the wires and bulb from the elements around it.
In our kitchens, light fixtures have evolved to include great options for over the island or even to tuck under cupboards. From large chandeliers over the dining room table to smaller pot lights kept flush with the ceiling over your sink, every area of this workhorse of a room has a different fixture to make the space as functional as possible.
Our safety has also become a highlight of yet another advent in light fixtures, bringing us gems like motion sensor lights for outside our doors and garages. These not only help to light our way into the home when we have arm loads of groceries after dark, but they also help to deter unwanted guests who may be startled by the sudden illumination of their activities.
Where we once only had lights that had to be carefully moved from place to place, wherever a little light was needed, we now have access to lights in all areas of our home, and no corner is left in the dark. Light fixtures do change to accommodate the types of bulbs that society uses at the time, but they also change a great deal depending on how they’re used and what is determined by fashion and design.