How to choose the right interior lighting for your home
Lighting serves an important functional purpose – but also helps set the ambiance and mood of a space. Good lighting can make a small room seem larger, transform a bedroom into a tranquil oasis, and maximize the design potential in every room. Each space in the home, however, has unique lighting needs; the following guide can help you choose the right lighting for every room in your home.
Foyers, stairs, and hallways
The foyer is the first impression visitors have of your home – make a big impact with good lighting! A hanging light fixture, whether it’s a traditional chandelier or contemporary pendant, is the most common choice for foyers. However, make sure the fixture is sized to the space; if the fixture will be seen from above, make sure to choose a pendant that still looks attractive from the second story.
Lighting in halls and stairs is all about safety. To prevent accidents, stairs should be lit from both the top and bottom – and have switches in both places. In hallways, lighting should be placed every 8 to 10 feet. Choose fixtures that complement the foyer chandelier, such as a wall sconces, chain-hung fixture for the stairs or close-to-ceiling fixtures in hallways.
Living spaces should have layered lighting; this allows you to adjust lighting to the time of day and activities in the room. Recessed lighting and close-to-ceiling fixtures can provide general lighting for a room, while floor or table lamps can provide task lighting for reading books or playing games. In homes with limited floor or table space, sconces and other wall-mounted lighting are good alternatives.
Dining rooms can be the most difficult part of the home to light; lighting should be bright enough that everyone can see what they’re eating, but soft enough to set the mood for dinner parties and entertaining. A hanging light fixture centered over the table is both a lighting source and a design focal point. Choose a chandelier or pendant that matches the décor in your home and provides a cohesive element in the room. Additional lighting sources, such as floor lamps, wall sconces, or even lighting inside cabinets, can be used to layer lighting and create drama.
For most families, the kitchen is the busiest room in the home. Bright lighting is an important part of everything from performing cooking duties to helping kids with homework or sorting through the mail. Most lighting design in the kitchen features a workspace-centered fixture as the general light source; higher watt bulbs should be chosen for task areas to provide adequate lighting. Under cabinet lighting is a popular way to add light to countertop workspaces and prevent shadows. Pendant lights can be used to add additional lighting over a breakfast bar or counter dinette.
Bathrooms often have the most layered – and most complicated – lighting in a home. There should be at least one centrally installed overhead light fixture to provide general lighting; in addition, consider installing additional down lights over toilets, showers, or tubs. Mount a light bar directly over the mirror to provide adequate illumination for teeth brushing, makeup application, shaving, and more. Wall sconces on either side of the mirror can help prevent shadows from appearing on the face.