Lighting Tips

Bathroom Lighting

More spacious and multifunctional than ever before, the once-utilitarian bathroom has evolved into a private retreat for relaxation, escape and self-indulgence. The right lighting can make a bathroom even more gracious.

Whether built new or recently remodeled, bathrooms today demand intricate lighting solutions. Task lighting must be bright enough to do its job, but also work well with indirect accent lighting to soften the room's ambiance and provide a warm glow. Decorative and ornate light fixtures and lamps provide elegance and sophistication. Shower light brighten up enclosed stalls. Reading lamps by the toilet provide more focused light. 

Lighting Techniques for the Bathroom

 

For small mirrors, decorative wall fixtures placed on each side of the mirror will provide the even, shadow-free facial illumination necessary for daily grooming tasks. For best results, mount fixtures at least 28" apart and 60" off the floor.

Newer techniques of bathroom lighting even include using small pendants on either side of the mirror.

For large mirrors, a strip of horizontal vanity lights will ensure that each person has sufficient light. Mount the strip 78" off the floor. The best lighting solution is achieved with fixtures that include a shade for each bulb.

Also add a dimmer to your vanity light. You will be amazed at how often you will use it and how much comfort it adds to the use of your bathroom

Bedroom Lighting

When lighting a bedroom, you will want to create an overall atmosphere of quiet relaxation, while providing some bright spots for reading and other activities. A combination of general and task lighting that takes into account the age and lifestyle of the occupant(s) is needed. Remember, dimming controls give you the flexibility to vary the light to suit different moods and activities

 

Lighting Techniques for the Bedroom

General, ambient lighting can be provided by ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, fan lights, recessed downlights or wall sconces, giving you the illumination you need to dress and see into drawers and closets.

For closets, recessed or close-to-the-ceiling fixtures give you good general lighting without taking up much space.

Closets are a good place to save energy by using compact fluorescent bulbs.

Next to the bed, portable lamps provide plenty of light for reading, or you can install swing-arm wall lamps to free up the space on your end tables.

Another idea is to hang pendants next to the bed or install recessed downlights in the ceiling over the bed.

Dining Room:

Dining room lighting should be both beautiful and functional. This can be accomplished using a mix of ambient, task and accent lighting. These various layers of light establish the mood for a variety of functions, including dining, homework or family bookkeeping. Dimming controls will enable you to vary the light for each function.


Lighting Techniques for the Dining Room:

A chandelier is often the focal point of a dining room. Suspended over the dining table, it serves as a decorative element that enhances the beauty of your fine furnishings. When the light is dimmed, a soft, glowing atmosphere similar to candlelight is created. If equipped with a downlight, the chandelier provides task lighting for the table and accent lighting for a centrepiece.

 

Chandelier:

Choose a chandelier that is 6" narrower than the smallest width of the dining table. If your table is 48" x 72", then the recommended width of the fixture is approximately 36". The chandelier should hang approximately 30" above the tabletop in an 8' ceiling. For each additional foot of ceiling height, add one inch. In a 10' ceiling, the chandelier should hang approximately 32" above the table.
 

Recessed and/or Track Lighting:

Recessed or track lighting provides ambient lighting, while enabling you to highlight prized possessions throughout the room.

A row of four recessed downlights around the dining table supplements the light from the downlights while providing accent lighting for your tableware.

Kitchen Lighting

Today's kitchen, the center of family activity, wins hands-down as the modern home's busiest room. Lighting requirements depend on the size and complexity of the kitchen space. While the kitchen is primarily a work area, it may also be used for dining or as a gathering place for family and friends. Small kitchens may require only a central ceiling fixture and task lighting tucked under a cabinet. More elaborate kitchens will demand a blend of general, task and accent lighting.


Lighting Techniques for the Kitchen

General kitchen lighting can be achieved with either recessed lighting or a central, decorative chandelier.

Recessed lighting is best placed around the perimeter of the room and approximately 30" away from the wall.

Chandeliers can be used in addition to other lighting in the space. In the kitchen, it is best to use chandeliers with semi-transparent glass shades instead of fabric shades because the glass is much easier to clean.

Undercabinet lighting will quickly and easily illuminate your countertops. It is available in a variety of choices, including slim, energy-efficient fluorescents, miniature track lights and low-voltage linear systems.

Place undercabinet fixtures at the front of your cabinet – not against the wall – so the light will be distributed evenly over the area below.

Also, consider putting your undercabinet lighting on a dimmer separate from other lighting in your kitchen. The different levels of light can add depth and dramatic impact to your space, and dimming is an easy way to save energy.

Over the sink or range, recessed downlights assure even illumination. Install them to create adequate task lighting for cooking, baking and scouring pots and pans.

Today's recessed fixtures are available with a variety of trims, including metallic, so you can add a bit of flair as well as function. Plus, not all recessed fixtures are round! Square downlights have gained popularity with homeowners searching for a unique design look.

An alternative to recessed lights is a track or rail system, which may be preferable if you are remodeling and do not have easy access to the space above the kitchen.

Lighting over the kitchen table is multipurpose – used for dining, homework, hobbies or family business. A decorative pendant will provide sufficient task lighting while also adding a touch of style and personality to your space.

Mount pendant fixtures 30" above the table top. If your table is round, the fixture should ideally be 12" narrower than the diameter of the table. For square and rectangular tables, choose a fixture that is 12" narrower than the smallest side.

Island counters and breakfast bars demand a combination of task and general lighting. A very good solution is to add a group of miniature pendants.

Mount each pendant so that the bottom of the shade is approximately 66" above the floor so it is possible to look across the room below the pendants. If the shades are not very deep and there is seating at the kitchen island or peninsula, install the pendants a few inches lower (60" above the floor).

In general, you should install one pendant for every two feet of counter space and try to use an odd number of pendants to create better balance. Thin, narrow pendants, however, might look more pleasing with the addition of one or two extra fixtures. 

Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting enhances the beauty of your property while providing safety and security. Outdoor lighting also allows you to take advantage of your outdoor spaces after dark and adds value to your home.

It is important to note that many cities have implemented special building codes related to the type of lighting you are allowed to use outdoors. Check with your local building inspection office regarding this issue before installing outdoor lighting.

 

Techniques for Outdoor Lighting

A well-lit front entrance enables you to greet guests and identify visitors. Wall lanterns on each side of the door will give your home a warm, welcoming look, while assuring the safety of those who enter.

Under a porch or other overhang, you can use recessed, chain-hung or close-to-ceiling fixtures. A separate rear or side entrance can be lighted with a single wall lantern installed on the keyhole side of the door.

Outside the garage, mount a lantern on each side or install a single fixture above to provide lighting for safety and security.

Consider installing a motion sensor on these fixtures or a photocell that turns the lights on at dusk and off at dawn to save energy. For added security, illuminate any side of the house that would otherwise be in shadow. Spotlights installed on your eaves will accomplish this, or, for a more dramatic look, consider ground lights pointed up to graze your walls.

To conserve energy, install a sensor that will switch on the light only at night or upon motion. If using uplighting, aim the fixtures so that the light is captured by your eaves to lessen light pollution.

Steps, paths, and driveways should be illuminated to make sure family members and guests are able to move about easily and safely after dark. You can install path lights or post lanterns or attach lights to the side of the house.

Low-level path lights, which spread circular patterns of light, will brighten your walkway while highlighting nearby flower beds, shrubs and ground cover. Low-level path lights can also be used to define the boundaries of long driveways.

Bollards, which stand 30 to 36 inches off the ground, also work well. Use shielded fixtures to avoid glare.