Recessed Lighting; what you need to know

Figuring out the best placement of recessed lighting is the trickiest part of developing a lighting plan. I take professional development lighting classes every opportunity I get because there is so much to know, and products are continuously advancing. It can get quite complicated with math formulas to figure out lumens needed, the rooms reflectance value, and the correct color of light to use. It is a design element that needs serious attention. Great lighting has been scientifically proven to help us feel happier, relax easier and focus clearly.

How many recessed lighting cans are needed per square foot? 

The rule of thumb to figure out a lighting layout is to place fixtures 5′-6′ apart. Using this standard a 12′ x 16′ room would need six recessed cans. But with Interior Design, nothing is that easy. That calculation can only provide a starting point. Many factors have to be considered to determine how many recessed cans are needed in a room.  

  • type of room 
  • ceiling height
  • room reflectance
  • beam angle from the fixture

The type of room matters because certain rooms require more light. For example, you need more light in a kitchen than you do in a bedroom. The ceiling height makes a huge difference. Just adding 2 feet to your ceiling height can double the amount of light needed. Room reflectance has to do with how the light bounces off the surfaces in the room. A white-walled room will require fewer recessed cans than a room painted a dark color. Kitchens with light countertops will require fewer recessed cans than those with dark countertops. The last factor is the beam angle emitted from the fixture. The wider the beam, the more area the light will cover.  

To make sure you have adequate lighting and not too much lighting, use the general standard, adjust according to the other factors mentioned and READ THE SPECS FROM THE MANUFACTURER ON THE PRODUCT YOU ARE USING!!! Planning is essential.

Did you get to read my last few posts on lighting? My first lighting post, “Let’s talk about lighting,” discussed the importance of good lighting as a design element. My second post discussed “How to know what size chandelier to buy.” Last week we discussed layering lights in a room by using a combination of “Ambient, Accent and Task” lighting.”

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chandeliers, lamps and sconces

Great Lighting Fixtures; it is easy to be obsessed

Since January, I have been focusing on lighting to “brighten things up” since the world’s news had been so gloomy. My first post on lighting, “Let’s talk about lighting,” discussed the importance of good lighting as a design element and was meant to open your eyes to the possibilities lighting offers aesthetically. 

My second lighting post discussed “How to know what size chandelier to buy.” Selecting the right size chandelier or light fixture is not a cut-and-dry process, but I shared basic guidelines to use as a starting point.

The Pearson Chandelier-Gold Leafed Iron
from Four Hands. Artisan craftsmanship is visible from each hand-applied gold leaf to miniature bubbles floating in blown glass bulbs.

In the next post following, I explained layering lights in a room using a combination of “Ambient, Accent and Task” Lighting.”   A well-lit room has layers of lighting combining ambient, task, and accent lighting, when used together, can create a spectacular feel-good space! 

The Havana Sconce from Arteriors is a great example of accent lighting. It is showcasing the wall’s faux finish.

Last week’s post was Recessed Lighting; what you need to know. I shared the rule of thumb to figure out a lighting layout while stressing the many other factors that need consideration to determine the correct number of recessed required recessed cans in a room.  

I hope you have learned a few things and have become inspired to think about the lighting in your home! To conclude my posts on lighting, I will finally share some great lighting fixtures made by some of my favorite vendors.

The Ultimo table lamp by Currey& Co cuts a bold profile with the lustrous matte black finish on its round ceramic body.

Great lighting design can make a beautiful room even better! Great new topics coming up in future posts. Be sure not to miss anything by subscribing.

Ambient, Task, and accent lighting

Did you know that lighting can affect your mood? Studies have shown that lighting is not solely a visual component. It also has biological and psychological effects that can impact our well-being. With that said, let’s discuss the basics.

Ambient, task, and accent lighting are terms you should know. Why? Simply put, you should have all of these types of lighting in every room. Utilizing ambient, task and accent lighting in a room is essential aesthetically and can also make you feel happier.

The ceiling fixtures along with the recessed lighting are the rooms ambient lighting source
Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is the general all-over lighting of a room. It may be a ceiling fixture in the center of the room or recessed lights in the ceiling. I often choose to use a central fixture for aesthetic appeal in addition to recessed lighting that will provide balanced all-over light.

The pendant lights provide task lighting
Photo by Naomi Hébert on Unsplash

Task Lighting

Task Lighting is lighting that is intended to provide light for a specific function. A good example is pendant lights used to illuminate the cooking prep area. It may be a table lamp, giving light to read by.

The floor lamp provides task lighting
Photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Unsplash

Accent Lighting

Accent Lighting is used to highlight an object or feature of a room. A light shining on a painting or highlighting a texture on a wall is an example of accent lighting. It is always a good design idea to use accent lighting to accentuate the best architectural features of a room.

The cabinet lighting is an example of accent lighting.

When developing a lighting plan, ask yourself the following questions:

1-What is my ambient lighting source? Is it balanced?

2-What areas of this room do I need additional lighting for specific functions?

3-What are the best features of this room that I could highlight with accent lighting? Are there any objects that I need to highlight with accent lighting?


Good lighting is so important in design! A well-lit room has layers of lighting combining ambient, task, and accent lighting when used together can create a spectacular feel-good room! I hope you had a chance to read my other two posts on Lighting, Let’s talk about lighting and How to know what size chandelier to buy. If you want to learn more about the psychological impact of light, follow this link to a great resource.

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lets talk chandelier size

How to know what size chandelier to buy

Tricks to select the correct size chandelier

In last week’s blog, “Let’s talk about lighting,” I promised more mini-posts covering this all-important topic expressing it was my attempt at lighting up your life. Today I am focussing on chandelier size because this is an area where I see many design blunders.

Over the years, I have learned a few tricks which can help determine what size chandelier to purchase. I’ll share them, but I caution that they only provide a general guideline. There is a lot more to consider. But we will get to that.

Trick 1: To determine the size of a chandelier over a dining room table, divide the width of your dining room table in half. If your table is 42″ wide, the size of your chandelier should be 21″. This guideline is not limited to chandeliers but is also helpful for other types of table lighting.

Trick 2: To determine the chandelier’s size for a room, add the room’s width and length together. If the room is 12′ by 12′, the Chandelier size should be 24″.

These two “tricks” make specifying the size of a chandelier seem easy-peasy. Unfortunately, nothing in design is that straight forward or simple. There are so many other factors to consider! If you stick to guidelines, the good news is, they will prevent you from having an undersized lighting fixture. But this is where it can get sticky.

This chandelier adds elegance and drama.
Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash

Consider the design statement you are making

The intended design statement has to be considered. There are times you may want to have the light over a table under-scaled. The under-scaled fixture in the photo below supports the minimalist design theme. The reverse is also true. It is easy to see how an over-sized chandelier or light fixture can support a theme of grandeur or opulence. But it also can be used to emphasize other themes or simply be an artful expression.

table with pendant lighting
Excellent example of how under-scaled lighting supports the design theme of minimalism

Consider the visual weight of the light fixture that you choose

Simple fixtures may not have high impact in a room unless they are over-sized. Elaborate lighting fixtures may steal all of the attention in the room if they are over-sized. Unless that is the intent, I would stay true to the guidelines.

Ceiling height also matters!

The above tricks are helpful but they do not take the cubic area of a room into consideration. If you have high ceilings, the fixture size needs to be bigger. Additionally, the higher it is hung, the bigger it should be.

Photo by Houzlook .com from Pexels
Photo by Designecologist from Pexels

Selecting the right size chandelier or light fixture is not a cut and dry process. The tricks I shared should give you a basic guideline to use as a starting point. Then, take all the other elements of the room, the fixture itself, as well as the design style you are trying to achieve into consideration before finalizing your selection.

In the next couple of upcoming posts, we will keep talking about lighting. I LOVE sharing the whole world of design with you. If you have not yet subscribed, enter your email below so you don’t miss anything.

LET’S TALK ABOUT LIGHTING

CARTOON DESIGNER WITH CHANDALIER.  Texts says,"lets talk about lighting."

All the news is dark and gloomy these days, so I think it is a great time to talk about lighting. This post is the first of a series of mini-posts about lighting, my literal attempt to light up your life.

Have you been to a lighting galley recently or even just browsed online? If you have, you know that lighting fixtures once thought of as just being functionally necessary have evolved into spectacular works of art.

pexels-photo-1571463.jpeg
This table and chairs are simple by design but the sculptural element of the chandelier makes the whole room feel alive. Photo by Vecislavas Popa on Pexels.com

When strolling through my favorite lighting stores, I am in awe of the opportunities of expression these beautiful fixtures present. I know that the right lighting fixture can elevate the drama in a room and set the stage for style.

black kettle beside condiment shakers and green fruits and plants on tray on brown wooden table
Lighting can define your style and become a dynamic focal point. Photo by Mark McCammon on Pexels.com

Often for me, It is difficult to resist the impulse to indulge in a new set of lamps. When I see sensational lamps, I immediately think, where can I put those because I most definitely need them! Today’s lamp designs offer many choices of sizes, colors, and shades—what a superb opportunity to make a splash in a room.

Because I am infatuated with lamps, I am often surprised when clients say they don’t need lamps because they have ceiling lighting. This statement tells me that many people don’t realize lighting needs to be layered and come from various sources. In my opinion, the more, the better.

In upcoming posts, we will talk about the different lighting types. This first blog post’s purpose is to open your eyes to what lighting fixtures offer aesthetically and get you excited about lighting up your world.

I LOVE sharing the whole world of design with you. If you have not yet subscribed, enter your email below so you don’t miss anything.