Your Guide to Designer Lighting

Your Guide to Designer Lighting

Types of Lighting

Generally, effective lighting design requires a balanced mix of several types of lighting to create a cozy, warm interior. One of the biggest misconceptions in interior design is that only a single lighting source would suffice when creating a space. Lighting works best when used in layers. There are three primary types of lighting:

1. Ambient Lighting - Also known as “General Lighting”, ambient lighting is a soft, diffused light that generally fills a room and is considered to be the primary light source in a space. Ambient lighting includes lighting from primary light fixtures as well as natural light coming from windows and/or skylights.
Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting

2. Task Lighting - As the name suggests, task lighting is typically used to complete a certain “task”, or job. This lighting type is extremely directional, focused, and used to provide additional lighting in an already well-lit space. Task lighting is often used to illuminate areas such as office desks, makeup vanities and reading chairs.

Task Lighting
Lamp on desk

3. Accent Lighting - Generally, accent lighting is used to bring attention to a particular object or area of the home, such as a painting, kitchen island, photograph, vase, or architectural detail. Accent lighting is focused, direct, often smaller in surface area and provides just enough light to cover a specific object. Accent lighting sources can be created by using a variety of lighting types, such as accent table or floor lamps, accent wall sconces, track lighting, or pendant lighting. This type of lighting is often paired together with a dimmer to provide mood lighting.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting

By Room

A successful interior design combines a number of light sources at different levels of the room. Here is our guide to picking and installing the right fixtures for every room.

1. Bathroom Lighting - Selecting the right vanity lighting for your bathroom is an essential part to creating a well functioning, comfortable, and relaxing environment. When placing vanity lighting above your bathroom mirrors, be sure to choose lighting that is at least 3”-5” smaller than the width of your mirror. Lighting should be at least 70-80” from the floor to ensure the entire space is well lit.

Bathroom dimensions
Bathroom dimensions

 

2. Kitchen Lighting - Pendants are a great choice for kitchen lighting because they brighten the kitchen workspace area without taking up space. When hanging a linear pendant above your kitchen island, choose a fixture that leaves about 1/3 of your island countertop empty (split between either side).


Not only do pendant lights elevate your space, however they are also quite easy to install. When installing 2 or more pendants over your kitchen island, be sure there is about 30-36” of space between the bottom of the fixture and your countertop for the perfect overhead glow. There should always be about 30” of space between each fixture. 

Kitchen diagram
Kitchen diagram

 

3. Bedroom Lighting - In addition to selecting the perfect light temperature for your bedroom, picking the right size of the lighting fixture is also important. When placing lighting over a bed, you want your chandelier, fan, or ceiling lights to be perfectly sized for your bed. For a master bedroom with a Queen/King sized bed, 36” is usually a perfect fit. For a nursery or child’s bedroom with a Full/Twin sized bed, 24” is best.

Bedroom diagram
Bedroom diagram

 

4. Office Lighting - The three priorities for home office lighting are to deliver overall brightness through general lighting, create functionality with task lighting, and provide a visually appealing space with accent lighting. In order to accomplish this task, you should incorporate these three layers of lighting into your space. You may need one or several types of light fixtures in a room, depending on the layout, size, aesthetic and space available.


Office lighting options

 

5. Living Room Lighting - Living rooms are the ideal location for your favorite chandeliers and best show pieces. Give your guests something to talk about when placing a chandelier or statement piece in your living room area. When installing the lighting fixtures take the length of the room (in feet) and multiply by the width of the room (in feet). Your answer changed to inches should be the ideal diameter of your living room lighting.

Living room formula diagram
Living room formula diagram

 

6. Dining Room Lighting - Enjoy your meals under the glow of a chandelier or linear pendant lights. When placing a chandelier or linear pendant over a dining room table, be sure to hang it at least 36” above the top of the table. To ensure balance in your design, it is best to allow for 6” between the edge of your lighting and the edge of your table.

Dining room diagram
Dining room diagram

 

7. Hallway/Stairway Lighting - There are mainly three options for lighting a hallway or stairway properly: a chandelier, pendant lights, and wall sconces. Lighting these areas are a key part in elevating your overall design. It is important that your fixture does not hang where it can interfere with any nearby doors. Allow for a minimum of 7’ from the bottom of the fixture to the floor. In a center hall, consider the height of the tallest person that will be walking under your fixture.

Hallway light
Hallway light

 

8. Outdoor Lighting - Lighting outdoor entrances not only improves outdoor safety, however creates a welcoming atmosphere for entrants. When placing your wall-mounted front porch lighting, be sure to place it at least 66” above the ground for best results. When choosing a lighting fixture, you should choose proportions that are at about ¼ the size of your doorway.

When placing walkway or garden lighting, place each bollard 4’-8’ away from each other depending on the size of your landscape. When using our 12V Transformer garden lights, swapping your style is easy! Just detach the bollard and replace onto the same 12V transformer. 

Outdoor entryway
Poolside lamps

 

9. Ceiling Fans - Indoor Ceiling Fans are a fantastic addition to a room, balancing both function and beauty. They are ideal for homes because they help to evenly distribute and circulate the air that's in the room. To find the diameter, we measure from the end of one blade to the end of the opposite blade. The most common fans range from 42" – 55" in diameter. Base the size ceiling fan you should choose on  the size of the room it will be placed in. Use this chart as a reference to find the right size ceiling fan for your room.

 
Ceiling fan diagram

 

Light Temperature
Light bulb temperature is measured in Kelvin (K) and is a very important consideration when choosing light fixtures for a home. Light bulbs can range from 2,000K to 6,500K, with the 2,000K temperature being the warmest and the 6,500K temperature being the coolest. We usually recommend selecting 3000K for residential spaces to all of our clients, as a natural warm white temperature creates a cozy atmosphere in a home. For commercial or more utilitarian spaces, a 4000K bulb temperature with more blue tones is commonly selected.

Tip: It is extremely important to ensure that all light sources in the same room are the same temperature. Mixing Kelvins and temperatures can create imbalances in the design and make a space feel uncomfortable.

 

Light temperatures
By room Temperature
Dining Soft White (3,000K)
Bedroom Very warm white (2,200-2,700K) and warm white (3,000K)
Kitchen Warm white (3,000- 4,000K)
Bathroom and Vanity Warm white (2,7000K to 3,000K)
Living room Very warm white (2,200-2,700K) and warm white (3,000K)
Outdoor  Very warm white (2500k-4000k)

 

Integrated vs. Non-Integrated LED Light Fixtures
Over recent years, more lighting manufacturers have started producing fixtures with integrated LED light sources. In an integrated LED light fixture, there is no physical light bulb in the fixture, but rather a flexible LED strip containing hundreds of small light-emitting diodes. This can usually be immediately spotted by looking into the fixture. Prior to determining if an integrated LED light fixture would work for you, it is important to evaluate the benefits and limitations carefully.

In an integrated LED fixture, the light bulb will not have to be replaced, as there is no physical bulb that can burn out. LED strips can have up to 50,000 hours of life, which should last several years depending on how often the fixture is used. If an LED strip burns out, the LED driver can be easily replaced for a small cost, ensuring longevity of the fixture.

LED light
Non-LED light

Lumens and Watts

Watts icon
Watts refer to the amount of power a light bulb uses.

Lumens icon
Lumens are often used when evaluating the amount of light that will be emitted from an LED light bulb. The higher the lumens the brighter the bulb.
CRI icon

CRI is most indicative of a light's quality. It is a measure on a scale of 1 to 100 of how accurately a light source shows colors compared to natural sunlight (which has a CRI rating of 100).

A light bulb with a CRI above 90 is considered good, and above 95, excellent for color vibrancy and a more natural-looking interior. Stay away from CRI ratings below 85, which have a dulling effect on surroundings.


Key Take-Aways and Recommendations

  1. Layer lighting in your home using accent, ambient, and task lighting types.
  2. Select light bulb temperatures between 2700-3000K to create a warm, inviting and relaxing atmosphere.
  3. Do not mix light bulb temperatures in the same room, stick to the same Kelvin rating to avoid imbalances in the space.
  4. Integrated LED Light fixtures do not have a physical bulb in them, so you would not be able to adjust the color temperature later on.
  5. Not every room needs to be dimmed. Dimmers should be utilized in spaces such as bedrooms, living rooms, and family rooms, but do not need to be placed in every room of the home.
  6. Try things out first! We always recommend selecting the primary light fixture first, such as the kitchen, foyer, or kitchen fixtures, prior to selecting supplementary lighting or lighting for less-important rooms. If you're not sure about a fixture, buy one and install it first to get an idea of what the rest of the space should look like.