At first glance, lighting an interior space seems like a simple task, but it always ends up being more complicated than expected. You might run into these common challenges:
- Finding a fixture that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional
- How to utilize light to set the mood
- Deciding where and how to install fixtures.
To get you going in the right direction, here are my top design do’s and don’ts for lighting design.
Don’t Install Recessed Lighting Everywhere
It’s often assumed that with enough can lights you’ll get light everywhere – not true. Unless they are adjustable or wall wash fixtures, can lights typically don’t shine sufficient light on vertical surfaces, which is where the eye perceives light. Too many can lights results in wasted energy and a space that still feels dark.
Do Layer Lighting
Provide a mix of light sources at different heights to create a pleasing ambience and functional space. A combination of ambient, accent, and task lighting are a must in every room.
Don’t Hang Lights Too Low
Kitchen pendants and dining room chandeliers should clear the head of the tallest family member and not obstruct views. In general you’ll be safe hanging the fixture 36-48 inches from the top of the counter or table surface. In dining rooms, the lower the light the more intimate the space will feel.
Do Flatter Your Face
The effects of overhead lighting can be very unflattering (think of a flashlight under the chin). In bathrooms, pair your overhead general illumination, with a set of sconces flanking the mirror to minimize shadows and provide more even lighting throughout the space.
Don’t Forget Dimmers
Dimmers allow you to effortlessly adjust the feel of a room based on your mood or activity. And, it’s surprisingly easy to switch out regular switches for a dimmer. By putting dimmers on overheads, table lamps, and more you’ll also decrease energy and heat output and lengthen the life of the bulb
Do Control Different Types of Light Separately
For maximum efficiency and flexibility, each type of light should be controlled separately. Controlling multiple light sources can be accomplished on basic level with the use of multiple light switches, or in a more sophisticated manner with programmable wall systems.
Don’t Select Fixtures Based on Aesthetic Only
Aesthetic is important, however, you still need to consider a fixture’s light output and performance. Consider how much wattage you need and the type of blubs you prefer in addition to finding a look you love.
What’s your greatest challenge when lighting a space?