DESIGN 101: LIGHTING A ROOM!

In September, we talked about how painting a room is one of the most inexpensive and successful ways to freshen up a room.  The same can be said for lighting! A thought out lighting plan can enhance the design of your room, add ambience, and help you utilize it effectively.  See below for some tips and tricks on layering types of lighting!

Pottery_Barn_Entry

Pottery_Barn_Entry

Entry, Stairs, and Hallways

Your entry lighting sets the tone to your house and can make your home feel welcoming.  In an entry, we like to center a chandelier or pendant to add ambient light.  Putting the fixture on a dimmer will help you control the mood.  An important factor to consider when choosing your entry fixture is size.  If you have a large space, you’ll need a larger fixture as the space might swallow up something small.

To safely light stairs and hallways, try adding multiple fixtures every 8 – 10 feet.  You can tie all of the fixtures onto the same switch so you light the entire space at once.  If you are concerned about over lighting hallways at night, the fixtures could all be put on a dimmer so that they can act like a night-light.

A great way to add another layer ambient lighting to entries, stairs, and hallways, is sconces.  Sconces should be centered at eye level, or approximately 66” from the floor.  You could also consider accent lights to highlight a piece of art or an architectural feature.  We also like to add a lamp or two on an entry table.  This is a great way to keep a small amount of light on throughout the night when you’ll want to switch your main lights off.

You may have noticed a lot of entries have mirrors on the walls.  Not only do mirrors give you the opportunity to check yourself out before you step out the front door, but they are a fantastic way to maximize lighting in an entry, as they bounce light into dark corners.

Pottery_Barn_Living_Room

Pottery_Barn_Living_Room

Living Room and Family Room

In your living room or family room, there are two key words to consider when lighting the space: balance and flexibility.  You’ll want to make sure your light fixtures work together and that you’re able to focus lighting on the areas where you’ll need it.

We typically start with a decorative overhead fixture on a dimmer, so that we can provide overall ambience to the room.  Next we consider sconce placement.  Perhaps you have a fireplace that will allow sconce placement to add another layer of ambient light to the perimeter of the room.   When considering sconces, you might also want to think about opportunities for accent light.  If you have a favorite piece of art, adding recessed lighting can highlight the piece without drawing attention to the light fixture itself.

Table lamps are an enhancing feature to add to end tables, and they provide a nice source of light at eye level.  When picking out lamps for your living room, think about how you could add a decorative detail by choosing a unique lampshade.

Pottery_Barn_Dining_Room

Pottery_Barn_Dining_Room

Dining Room

Last Friday, we posted tips for lighting the dining table.  In the dining room, almost all of the action happens around the table, so ceiling pendants or a chandelier will effectively light the space.  We typically connect center fixtures to dimmers so that we can control the mood of the room.  Ceiling fixtures should be installed so that they are 30-36” above the dining table.  If you’re going with a sprawling fixture, you’ll want to make sure the fixture sits within 12” of the perimeter of your table so you’re not lighting the tops of your guest’s heads.

If you have a sideboard, you have the opportunity to add a decorative lamp for another layer of ambient light.  This will also offer effective lighting if you intend to use the sideboard as a buffet.

Like in the living room, the dining room can also be a great space to highlight a favorite piece of art with recessed lighting.  Discreet lighting can add a cozy feeling to the room while also keeping the focus on the dining table.

For more information on how to set the table with candles, see our blog about lighting the dining table.

Pottery_Barn_Kitchen

Pottery_Barn_Kitchen

Kitchen

It’s likely your kitchen serves many different uses, which can make it a tricky room to light.  We like to start by focusing on task lighting, as the room’s first priority is meal prep.  Recessed lighting or mono-points are an effective way to light countertops, cabinets, and sinks.  They should align with the front edge of your countertop and can be spaced 6-8 feet apart to add overall even lighting.

If you have an island in your kitchen, you have a terrific opportunity to add pendant lights.  Pendant lights will provide the task lighting you’ll need for meal prep, but can also add ambient lighting for times when friends and family gather around to chat or eat.  Pendant lights can also add a nice decorative detail to give your kitchen a bit of personalization.  Pendants should be evenly spaced across your island, and are typically installed 30-40” above the countertop.

To add even more lighting to your countertop, try under-cabinet lighting.  Under-cabinet lighting is relatively inexpensive and can be fluorescent, offering an energy efficient light source.

If you have a dining table in your kitchen, the same rules apply as in the dining room.  A central chandelier or pendant can be a great way to highlight the table while also offering a cozy space to gather for meals.

Pottery_Barn_Bedroom

Pottery_Barn_Bedroom

Bedroom

After a long day, it’s nice to settle in to a warm and restful bedroom.  You can achieve a flattering and relaxing mood in your bedroom by adding ambient fixtures on dimmers.  Try starting with an overhead light for general ambience.  If you are opting for an overhead fan, try one with a built-in light fixture.  Next, consider if you have space for ambient wall sconces.  Sconces can add light to dark spots along the perimeter of the room.

If you like to read in bed, you’ll likely appreciate bedside task lighting.  You can use a reading light to direct light onto the page of your book, or find a bright table lamp to do the trick.  Bedside lights can be wall mounted, or sit on your bedside table, depending on how much table space you have.

Pottery_Barn_Bathroom

Pottery_Barn_Bathroom

Bathroom

When we discussed lighting the dining table, we mentioned that lighting face-on is the most flattering.  This rule also applies to vanity mirrors. For ideal vanity lighting, you’ll want to install fixtures above and beside the vanity to offer even illumination and avoid shadows.  Sconces should be installed at eye level, or approximately 66” from the floor.

If you have a small bathroom, often vanity lighting will be enough to light the entire space. However, a bathroom can feel more welcoming and relaxing if you add additional layers such as an overhead light on a dimmer.  A soft glow from an overhead light can also be a bit easier on the eyes first thing in the morning.

Task lighting in the bath or shower can be beneficial as well.  There are some good options available for recessed light fixtures.  It is important to ensure that shower and bath lighting is approved for wet locations to maintain safe lighting in your bathroom.

Pottery_Barn_Media_Room

Pottery_Barn_Media_Room

General Lighting Tips

  • If you have a TV in your room, consider placing light fixtures on dimmers to reduce reflection and create an ideal glow for viewing.  You don’t want any fixtures pointing directly at the TV screen or you will find yourself with an annoying glare.
  • When purchasing light fixtures, you’ll want to consider what kind of bulbs the fixture takes.   You can read our blog about how to pick a light bulb to learn more.
  • If developing a lighting plan for your entire home seems like a daunting task, try breaking the project down by room.  Think about how you need each room to function as a space for work, relaxation, and entertaining.
  • In nurseries and kid’s rooms, remember night lighting or other dim lighting.  Not only will night lighting help kid’s from being scared, but it will help all of you find your way through a dark room to say goodnight or change a diaper.
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All Images and Fixtures from Pottery Barn.

Happy Lighting.

RB.

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