Recently I have been asked the same questions again and again about lighting so I thought I would take a little time and blog about it. The first question that I usually get is how many lighting does each room need and where is it supposed to be located? Well times have changed and the old school of thought on interior lighting that recessed lighting was only for the kitchen and never to go in bedrooms has changed. People want ease of use and the ability to see when they walk into a room. So I firmly recommend three sources of light in each room. Now the source of light will change based on the room but this is a good basic rule of thumb. So if we are talking about your kitchen the three sources that I use are recessed, pendant and under cabinet. And of course they should always be on their own switches. This way you can use them together or separately but you never have to have them all on. The recessed lights give you function, the pendants give you form and the under cabinet lights set the mood.
Now if we are talking about the living room or family room then your sources of light will be recessed, ceiling mount/ceiling fan/chandelier and table lamps. Recessed for function. The center ceiling fixture can be one of the options of ceiling mount/ceiling fan/chandelier. I give these different options because based on where you reside you will have different needs. Here in Florida we do a great deal of ceiling fans because of the heat in the family room, but will do a chandelier in the living room to give a more formal appearance. As for table/floor lamps every room except the kitchen need these. They do not have to match like used to be the standard but they do need to compliment each other. And scale is very important! If you are putting a lamp on a large end table the lamp has to have enough weight and mass to balance the table. And the same goes for if you are using a small table. The lamp cannot take up all of the space on the table top. If the table is too small for a lamp then this is the time for a floor lamp. Which will add a depth to the room by adding another element to carry the eye around the room.
Here are two different ways to address the need for ceiling lighting one for function and one for decorative impact. If you also notice on the image on the right there is also decorative sconce lighting on either side of the painting to not only add lighting to the room but to highlight the painting and bring the ceiling sculpture lighting down into the room.
Dining rooms are a little unique in that they don’t necessarily get three sources of lighting. But the main thing to remember about dining rooms is that size really does matter! If the chandelier over the table is the wrong size it is going to look awful no matter what else is in the room. So how do you know you are selecting the right size? Rule of thumb the diameter of the fixture needs to be at least half of the width and length of the table. And if you are have a really long table then use two fixtures! There is nothing worse than a too small chandelier over a huge table.
Now for bedroom lighting. There needs to be ceiling lighting. No more of this the only source of lighting is at the nightstands! You need to be able to walk into the room and turn on a light. Even if the table lamps are connected to the switch they still are not enough light for the room. You can still have mood lighting with the table lamps but with the larger bedrooms that we are building now they are just not enough to properly light the room. And with the additional lighting you will have a better resale value. Now if you have a large master bedroom with a tray ceiling you need to have lighting in that tray ceiling! This gives you mood lighting and accents the architectural feature. And if you have gone to th expense of adding that kind of feature you need to highlight it.
So if you are only going to remember one thing about lighting let it be the rule of three: function, style and mood. And remember if you have questions ask an interior designer. The cost of the consult is worth not making a mistake!