What to Consider When Lighting Your Home

A designer offers a few illuminating insights on this key design element

By Gillian Lazanik / Courtesy of Houzz.com

Lighting is one of the most overlooked yet important elements of interior design. What’s the point in creating beautiful spaces if there’s not enough light to see them? Lighting is also essential for creating the mood and ambience of a space. Come up with your lighting plan during the conceptual design phase so your contractor knows ahead of time where to run electrical wiring. Once the drywall goes up, changing wiring is much harder, so don’t leave this consideration until the end. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to lighting your home.

Dining room lighting.Everyone loves to create ambience over the dining room table. But there are practically as many light fixtures to choose from as there are snowflakes. 

When it comes to your dining area, make sure to choose a light fixture that’s the right size for your table. If you can’t find something large enough, consider clustering multiple lights together. I like to ensure that the fixture is at least one-third the size of the table. And make sure you mount it approximately 30 to 38 inches above the eating surface. Also be sure to install a dimmable switch so you can set the mood.

Undercabinet lighting. A simple valance on the underside of your cabinets will not properly hide the cord for lighting. Plan ahead and have your millworker build a false bottom to conceal the wires.

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Another option is to speak with a cabinetmaker about routing a channel to recess LED strip lighting.

Track lighting. Track lighting is a great way to illuminate multiple areas with wiring for only one electrical box. There are tons of great-looking track lights available these days, but if you’re not a fan, try recessing the track into the ceiling. It creates a cool architectural detail while keeping the functionality.

Toe-kick lighting. Don’t think that adding lights to your toe-kicks is a frivolous, aesthetics-only decision. Strip lighting at the underside of base cabinets is a great way to create a nightlight that looks fabulous.

Sconce lighting. Bathroom sconces are great for illuminating your face in the mirror. They’ll work best if you can mount them close to the height of your face, but if you don’t have the space, a sconce above the mirror will work nicely too

Wall effects. Sconces in other areas can create ambience and amazing effects. This wall doesn’t even need art on it because of the pattern of the light from the sconces.

Pot lighting. I like to use pot lights, often referred to as recessed lighting, in certain spaces of a house, but I don’t think they should act as substitutes for indirect lighting, such as floor and table lamps. Pot lights work best in areas where tasks occur, like the kitchen or laundry room. You can use far fewer pot lights in bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms.

Bedside lighting. When choosing lights for your bedside tables, make sure you think about how you’ll be using them. Are they strictly decorative or will they be more functional? If you’re using them as task lights, make sure they can swivel for ease of reading in bed.

Stair lighting. This is one of my favorite ways to add lighting to a space. Stair lighting can take any renovation to the next level. They’re not overly expensive and they’re highly functional.

Custom lighting. If you’re having a hard time finding the perfect lighting, you may want to contact a local lighting manufacturer or designer. Like art, lighting is personal and subjective. You might benefit from working with someone to design your perfect fixture.