Illuminate Me… How do I Choose the Best Lighting for My Home?

Yep – it’s true. While we might want to ignore the signs, fall is well on it’s way and so is several months of fewer daylight hours. No need to mope though- a well thought out lighting plan can make your time in your home so much more enjoyable. Good indoor lighting is critical to your home’s functionality and can even increase your sense of well-being. Lighting, if done correctly, adds beauty, character, and visual appeal as well as improving the ambiance of any room. Much like paint, it can either create a sense of warmth, space or drama and is a great way to refresh your home relatively inexpensively.

Understand Your Space

Lighting should be planned to complement your lifestyle. Start by asking yourself what activities occur in each space? What is the feeling you want to create? Are there details or elements in the room you want to highlight? The single most important concept in creating a good lighting plan for the home is to use an array of different types of lighting. Just like accessories and furniture, a home feels cozier and more inviting when you have layers. A solid understanding of what you want to achieve with your lighting will help you tick all of the boxes when it comes to your lighting plan.


Types of Lighting

General Lighting provides an area with overall illumination. Also known as ambient lighting, general lighting is meant to create a comfortable level of brightness for day to day activities through the use of pot (or can) lights, flush and semi-flush lights and chandeliers.

Task Lighting: Once you have established a comfortable level of general lighting, identify areas where you will perform tasks on a regular basis. Where do you need more light? Do you need more light in kitchen prep areas? Do you have trouble reading because there isn’t enough light? What about your office – is it bright enough or dull and dingy? These are all situations where task lighting can make a huge difference in the functionality of your space. Use the following list to identify which types of task lighting would benefit you throughout your home.

Table/Desk Lamps: There are unlimited choices to for table and desk lamps to suit any decor and any budget. Place anywhere you need a little extra light for reading, computer work or even that for completing that knitted scarf you’ve been working on.

Sconces/Wall Lights: Wall sconces are often ignored in a general lighting plan, however, they can add just the right amount of visual interest and light above bathroom vanities, sideboards, sofas etc.. Many are adjustable and are even offered with convenient and economical LEDs.


Kitchen island: These fixtures are truly the workhorses of task lighting. Whether it’s a linear island light or a series of pendants, it’s imperative to ensure that lighting is evenly spaced without shadows or lighting gaps on the work surface. Sizes for these fixtures can vary greatly in size and number of lights to suit all needs. The same rules apply for pool table and billiard lights.

Undercounter/Valance Lights: Not all kitchen prep is done on an island and not all office work is done on a desk. In these situations, valance lighting strategically placed under your upper cabinets in the form of puck lights or strip lighting is a god-send to productivity.


A Few Basic Lighting Rules

A few general rules that will help you when purchasing your fixtures.

1. General Lighting – Without getting into the science of lighting cones and lumens, general lighting should be spaced at 48” to 72”.

2. Pendants – For an area where there are several pendants, such as a kitchen, the goal is to provide evenly distributed task lighting. As a rule of thumb, pendants are usually suspended anywhere between 28-36 inches above the target surface and between 60-72 inches from the bottom of the shade to the floor. Note: if you are hanging multiple pendant lights, pendants should be between 24 and 30 inches apart.

3. Chandeliers – The generally accepted rule for hanging dining room chandeliers is that the bottom of the fixture should hang between 30 and 36 inches above the top of the dining table. If your ceiling is higher that 8 feet however, I recommend you raise the chandelier 3 inches for each additional foot of ceiling height i.e. a 9 foot ceiling means raising your fixture to as high as 39 inches.




Size Does Count

One of the questions I often get is “how do I know if my light is the right size for my room”? The wrong-sized fixture can definitely throw the look of any space off kilter. Beyond aesthetics though, not choosing the correct size fixture can result in a too dark (or too bright) space. So how do you figure it out? Through some simple math… For a hanging fixture such as a chandelier, add the length and the width of your room in feet. This equals the approximate total inches in diameter of an appropriately sized fixture for your space.


Room Width in Feet + Room Length in Feet = Lighting Fixture Diameter in Inches


As mentioned, fixtures are available to fit all design styles and budgets. If you quite literally feel like you are in the dark or that your space could benefit from some extra illumination, don’t be afraid to take stock and make some changes. If you decide you’d like a professional hand to make the necessary changes, don’t be shy! Just reach out and we’d be happy to help. For more actionable advice and inspiration, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter!

PS: If you’ve never worked with an Interior Designer before, read our blog on the benefits of hiring one

Until next time,