Lighting is one of the key elements that helps make your house a home. The proper lighting enables you to perform tasks easily, makes you feel safer and more comfortable, and allows you to enjoy your home at its full potential. Each room, however, has specific and unique general and accent lighting needs. Here are some tips and ideas to consider when planning your lighting needs for each room in your home. If you are uncertain about what type of lighting fixture you need, or you’re just looking for inspiration, take a few minutes to browse through this guide!
Use lighting and decoration for a first impression.
The foyer conveys the first impression of a home’s interior. Center a traditional chandelier, contemporary pendant, or transitional close-to-ceiling fixture in your hallway to provide basic illumination and create a welcoming atmosphere.
Make your artwork come to life and illuminate it with halogen light from track or adjustable recessed down-lighting. Mirrors also add a special decorative touch to a foyer.
Make sure to size the decorative fixture to the space.
Not all foyers can accommodate a large chandelier, so make sure the size proportions are correct. Likewise, if you have a larger space, you’ll need a larger fixture. If you’ll be able to view the fixture from above, make sure to select a foyer chandelier or pendant that looks attractive from second story viewing.
Remember that stairways and halls must have good general lighting for safety.
To prevent accidents, stairs should be lit from top to bottom with switches in both places. For safety in hallways, place lighting fixtures every 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3.0 m). Tie in the fixtures you choose by matching your foyer chandelier or pendant with close-to-ceiling fixtures for hallways and smaller chain hung fixtures for stairways.
Use matching wall sconces to complement the hanging foyer fixture.
Always mount a sconce above eye level (approximately 66″ from the center of the fixture to the floor) so that the lamp source is not visible.
Use lighting to bring out the best in your living spaces.
Enhance your room’s ambiance, dramatize wall textures, accent artwork, or just provide general illumination for your den, living room, family room, playrooms, or bedrooms. A variety of different types of lighting fixtures will work for both your general lighting and accent lighting needs.
Use recessed lighting to light a general area.
This is preferred because the light source is concealed. Close-to-ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and interior lamps are also excellent choices and provide ample lighting. These fixtures are not only decorative pieces, but are ideal sources of task lighting for reading or playing games.
While traditional wall fixtures with arms remain the most popular form of wall lighting, more contemporary wall sconces are gaining popularity for accent lighting.
Try recessed lighting or track lighting to make a room come alive by accenting artwork, wall washing, or grazing.
Interior lamps are also a great choice.
When table space is limited, wall lamps are a good alternative.
Try CFL Lighting to get more value for your money.
Create a focal point with lighting.
Your dining table is in place, chairs are pushed in, and the table is set. The only thing remaining to complete the picture is the center piece, your light fixture. This lighting fixture is the focal point of your room, so it needs to express your own personal style, while still satisfying general lighting needs. Whether your dining and entertaining style is casual and laid back, or is generally more formal, choose a fixture that reflects you.
Use a chandelier or pendant for general lighting.
Both fixtures are excellent sources of lighting and are sure to set the tone of your dining room. Recessed wall washers can also provide additional light while helping to create an illusion of a larger room space.
When hanging a chandelier, make sure that the chandelier is 6″ to 12″ smaller than the narrowest side of the table. The bottom of the pendant or chandelier should be approximately 30″ above your table.
Chandeliers with 200 to 400 overall wattage provide abundant illumination for a dining room.
Consider a chandelier with an integral downlight for additional light on the table.
Add accent lighting to the room, too.
Aim adjustable halogen recessed fixtures on the table and chandelier. This will provide additional light on the table, and will also bring out the brilliance of the chandelier. Consider companion sconces on either side of a china cabinet or hutch. Cabinet lighting mounted inside valences and cabinets also adds drama.
Realize that the kitchen is often the busiest part of the house.
Not only are your meals prepared here, but your family and guests gather here as well. Sufficient and adequate lighting is a must for performing all your culinary needs, helping your kids with their homework, and reading the paper.
Sketch a plan of your kitchen that focuses on activity areas and then decide what kind of light each area will need: general, task, accent, or decorative.
Use higher watt bulbs in task areas.
A glass or plastic pendant will provide ample “up-lighting” to cover the entire dinette area with light.
Go with decorative fluorescent fixtures centered over a workspace.
Kitchens less than 100 square feet require a two lamp fluorescent, up to 250 square feet will require supplemental lighting. Down lights mounted 18″ off the edge of the cabinets, and spaced 3′ to 4′ on centers is an excellent way to create additional general lighting.
Use under cabinet lighting to help prevent shadows on the counters, while adding critical light to the workspace.
Fluorescent under cabinet fixtures are also a cost efficient lighting source. In open areas over sinks use recessed downlights mounted directly over the sink.
Mounting mini-pendants 18″ to 24″ above the work surface is an ideal way to light up a breakfast bar or counter dinettes, a pendant on a dimmer, hanging 24″ to 30″ above the table, is ideal for task lighting. Size the fixture to roughly 12″ less than the diameter of the table.
Illuminate your special home objects, architectural detail, or food presentation areas with track or recessed lighting.
Use under cabinet lighting in cabinets, valences, and toe spaces and create drama while also supplying additional light to navigate around your kitchen in the evening.
Choose fluorescent lights to provide that missing ambient lighting.
The ambient light provided by fluorescent fixtures will fill in your kitchen’s shadows, reduce contrast, and light vertical surfaces to give the space a brighter feel.
Don’t forget about the bathroom.
Bathroom lighting is probably the last place people want to invest time and money. Mirrors go unlit, and oftentimes one ceiling fixture is used to light up the sink, mirror, and shower. However, as whirlpool tubs become larger and steam showers are added, more and more time is spent relaxing in the bathroom. Since you begin and end your day in the bathroom, why not spend a little extra time considering which fixtures and lights would work best?
Halogen bulbs are generally the standard for bathroom lighting, but the newest compact fluorescent bulbs are also a great option.
Use several recessed down lights or decorative surface-mounted fixtures for areas over 100 square feet.
Add companion close-to-ceiling fixtures to supplement bath wall brackets in larger bathrooms. Companion close to ceiling fixtures supplement bath wall brackets in larger bathrooms.
Mount one fixture over the mirror to light a bathroom, but realize it can cause shadows on the face.
If using recessed lighting, avoid creating shadows by not mounting them directly over the mirror.
Adding wall brackets to the side of the mirror is one of the best way to eliminate shadows on the face. For mirrors under 48″ wide use, vertically mounted wall brackets and position them 75 to 80 inches (190.5 to 203.2 cm) above the floor.
If the fixture uses exposed lamps, do not use a higher wattage than 40 watts. Fixtures with clear or well diffused glass use nor more than 75 watts. Color corrected fluorescent lamps should be used when fluorescent fixtures are desired. A crisp white light renders skin tones most accurately.
Use extra lighting in unexpected areas for both decoration and function.
Try a small recessed light directed at a piece of decorative art work or a beautiful powder basin creates an extra layer of lighting.
In the shower, use recessed lights or a ceiling mounted plastic unit. Angle a recessed shower fixture and highlight nice tile work or make your shower fixtures sparkle.
Don’t forget the area over the commode! A recessed unit is always a great addition.
Use functional and fun lighting outside.
Whether your goal is to enhance the beauty of your home, or provide additional security, you have numerous lighting options to light up your home’s exterior. Extend the hours you can spend outside, or create a festive environment!
Consider the types of lighting available.
The selection of lighting fixtures is of two primary types: decorative and functional.
Use decorative fixtures are used along pathways, on walls and posts, and entrance foyers.
The design of these fixtures should complement the look and feel of your house and landscape while providing sufficient lighting for safety, security, and functionality.
When installing a wall lantern, size the fixture to the door and surrounding space. Wall lanterns should be mounted slightly above eye level at about 60″ to 66″ from the center of the fixture to the floor. Post-top lanterns can be selected to match the style of the wall lanterns. Large post top lanterns make a better impression when used in large open space.
Be mindful, however, that most lantern-style fixtures are glaring light sources.
They spill light in all directions and can be a cause of light trespass (onto others’ properties) and distracting glare for drivers. Many lighting designers forgo lantern style lights entirely and instead use lights with hoods (that shield the glare) and lights that are positioned within plant material so they are hidden completely.
Use hidden lights for functional purposes.
They are strategically positioned around the property to selectively illuminate plant material and architecture. A skilled lighting designer positions fixtures so only the effect of the illumination is seen, not the lighting fixtures themselves.
Include some lighting for security, too.
Add landscape lighting, deck lighting, and step lighting to not only bring out the beauty of the home at night, but also add extra security and safety.