By Lori Shuett
Lighting is such an important design element in any home renovation but is sometimes overlooked until the last minute. Without getting into all the technical details, I thought I’d touch on some simple ideas for you to implement in your home.
When it comes to living rooms, they can be one of the darker areas of your home. During the day they might be well-lit, but what about at night? Many newly designed homes have open floor plans that require lighting to be well-thought out. For instance, if your furniture is going to be floating in the centre of the room, you’ll likely need floor plugs.
If you decide not to use traditional lamps then recessed lighting is a great option. The height of your ceiling will dictate the size you will need. For the standard 8ft ceiling a 4-inch recessed light will be more than enough. If you have a cathedral ceiling then you may opt for a 6 inch light, as the further away the light is from the furnishings the more area it will need to cover. For traditional homes I like to place lights in front of windows as this creates privacy. You can only see into a home to the farthest illuminated area. So if you have a light at the back of your room and you don’t have drapes or curtains then outsiders can see the light and into the room. When you place a light close to the window it’s harder to see past it, hence you’ll have more privacy as a result.
Kitchens are another area that you need to consider the lighting in the design. Recessed lighting is generally placed two feet from the wall. Keep in mind that you want to make sure the light is in front of you, not behind you, so you don’t end up casting a shadow onto your work space. Under-cabinet lighting is a great feature as it really helps to light up the counter so it’s easy to see what you are doing.
Island lighting is important; I like to use a combination of recessed and pendant lighting to give my clients a few options. Dimmers work well in this area. For kitchen and dining room tables, the recommended height from the top of the table to the bottom of the fixture is no lower than 30 inches for a standard 8-foot ceiling. If your ceilings height is higher, then raise the fixture 3 inches for each foot.
To calculate the proper diameter of chandelier over your table, here’s a simple formula: add the length and the width of the room in feet and using this figure, convert to inches and that’s the recommended size of your fixture. For example, for a room that is 12 feet by 14 feet, adding these two numbers together equals 26 feet: Then convert this to inches, and the ideal width of your chandelier is 26 inches.
When it comes to your front entry and hallway, ideally lights should be 7 feet from the floor.
If you have a long hallway you could consider wall sconces which are generally placed 6 feet apart and 5 feet from the floor.
How can you figure out if you have enough lighting in your room? The general formula is the width of the room times the length, times 1.5 this will give you the general wattage needed to light the space.
Next time you take on your next decorating project, think about your lighting. Do a layout of the floor plan to determine your needs. Then, happy shopping!