Darkness comes early these days, and how you light your home can make a big difference in both the mood and function of your interior spaces. You want to be able to create a cozy vibe, but also feel energized in the evening to cook or get work done.
One of the benefits of designing a custom home is being able to think about how your family will be using different living spaces, and then figure out wiring requirements and placement of electrical outlets to provide specific lighting where you need it the most. With modern construction techniques, materials, and LED bulbs and fixtures, new homes offer many opportunities to save money and energy on everything from bright task lighting to a fun, colorful glow in the family or rec room.
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing lighting for different rooms. A good, general rule to follow is to combine mutliple types of lighting in a space — mix overhead light with lower wattage lamps or other light sources on dimmer switches to add to a room’s ambiance.
Open concept spaces retain their airy look with the use of recessed lighting, or “can lights”. Because they are inconspicuous, you can install rows of them over kitchen counters or near the pantry, where you might want brighter light. Pendant lights work well over an island or table. Just make sure to install them with the proper head clearance (for the tallest person in your family) and so they don’t block sight lines into the next room. LED lighting under cabinets can really add to both the kitchen ambiance and good work lighting for cooking.
Don’t forget about these smaller spaces when it comes to lighting. Motion sensor lights are a practical solution for both of these areas. No one has to fumble around in the middle of the night to see where they are going or remember to turn off lights in a closet. If you choose flush mount fixtures instead of recessed lighting in a hallway, consider keeping the maximum wattage at 60 to avoid harshness.
Snuggling up with a book at night? A nightstand lamp provides the best reading light when it’s between 26 or 28 inches tall, including the shade. If you prefer a more directional reading lamp, an opaque shade will help to reduce glare. Keeping the rest of the lighting a little softer in the bedroom creates a more restful mood, so many designers recommend looking for bulbs that emit light that’s described as “pink” for a warm glow.
For putting on makeup or shaving, the best bathroom lighting comes from evenly spaced scones or other lighting placed on either side of your mirror. Don’t mount them too high or you’ll create shadows. LED bulbs that emit light similar to natural daylight can give you a better idea of what you’ll look like when you leave the house.
If you are designing a home renovation or a brand new custom home, remember to consider the lighting needs for each room as an element of the overall design.