Lighting Your Home

Proper lighting in your home is as important, if not more so than accessorizing. The proper use of lighting enhances, creates a mood and provides comfort and drama for any space.

Consider these factors, the size of your room, how you use the room and the look you want. If the room has dark walls and dark floors, the light will be absorbed quickly. Therefore, it’ll require more light to achieve the same level of illumination that you’d have if the room had light walls and floors that reflected the light. With light walls and floors the light is reflected. Another consideration is a room that serves more than one function, for example, a room that needs overall illumination as well as a lamp to read by.

There are Three Basic Types of Lighting

  • General lighting provides overall illumination. This can be achieved with chandeliers as well as other ceiling fixtures; wall-mounted or recessed fixtures.
  • Task lighting provides more concentrated light suited to activities, such as reading, cooking and playing games. This lighting can be provided by floor lamps, track and recessed lights, pendant lights and tabletop lamps.
  • Accent lighting adds drama to your space. Examples are a light above a painting, a sculpture or an up-light on the floor next to a plant. Highlighting a design element in the room, such as the wall texture or a coffered ceiling bring drama. Accent lighting typically casts more light on the object being accented; at least as much as three times more than the general lighting in the surrounding area.

Lighting a Living Room or Family Room

Reading: If achieved with table lamps, the shade should be at eye level when a person is seated approximately 40” to 42” above the floor.

TV, Video Games and Computers: In-home electronics require low-level general lighting that will not ‘wash out’ screen displays or reflect light into the viewer’s eyes.

Bar Area: Recessed lights or other surface-mounted lights work well over a bar. If you have cabinets above the bar, accent with under-mounted lighting.

Lighting a Dining Room

A chandelier hanging over the middle of the dining table is an excellent choice. The bottom of the chandelier should be 30” above the table, no lower. If you choose recessed lighting to light the surface of a square dining table, position four lights aligned with the perimeter of the table, basically one light at each corner. If you have a long rectangular table, divide the table in half, center 2 lights evenly spaced in each half for aesthetic full coverage.


Under-cabinet lighting is a good choice when the goal is to light the countertop surfaces. They should be mounted close to the front of the cabinets. Recessed ceiling lights are a good choice for food prep and cooking tasks. Above a sink, place two recessed lights, 18” apart or one light in the center if the area is small. If you have an island you could hang pendants above it. There are some lovely ones on the market. Hang no more than 3 pendants, no real reason, just good design. If you have a dinette table, use a pendant that’s 12” narrower than the table diameter. You can also use a recessed light here, mounted above the middle of the table.


A ceiling fixture can provide general lighting. As for task lighting, you can have a table lamp on each side of the bed. Another very convenient option to mount wall lamps above the headboard with an extension arm. Another option is recessed lights above the bed with separate dimmer switches.


If possible, install a light in your shower as well as general overhead lighting. You can purchase and install a combination light, fan and heater in the ceiling of the room or any part of that combination. A fan is a must have, so that you can vent moisture out of the room. The best lighting around the mirror/s is one sconce on each side of the mirror; this can be achieved only if you have two separate framed or unframed mirrors above the sinks. If you have an overhead light above the mirror, it will cast shadows on your face and they are unflattering to everyone. For a touch of decadence, consider hanging a chandelier over your bathtub, especially if it is the show piece of the bathroom.

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