Choosing Lighting for Your Room

Choosing Lighting for Your Room

When choosing lighting for a room, there are many things to consider.

  • What is the room’s main function?
  • Do you use the room for other purposes, too?
  • Who will be using the room?
  • What is your budget?
  • How is the room decorated?
  • Does the room have any interesting architectural elements or quirks that help define its function or style or that you’d like to highlight?
  • How big is the room?
  • How big are the furnishings in the room?
  • Is the room divided into separate seating or task areas?
  • How high are the ceilings in the room?

The answers to these questions will dictate your choice in lighting.

For most rooms, you’ll need more than a single chandelier or fixture to provide adequate lighting and ambiance. Depending on the function of the room, you may use a combination of overhead lighting fixtures, lamps, sconces, track lighting and recessed lighting. And don’t forget about candlelight!

Kitchen Lighting

Kitchens definitely need a combination of lighting for general illumination and task lighting. Your kitchen may require recessed lighting, plus a gorgeous chandelier in the center of the room. You may have additional lighting underneath your cabinets to illuminate your counter tops when you’re cooking. You also want your sink and stove areas illuminated as well.

A trio of pendants (or chandeliers) works great over an island or peninsula.  You might have another chandelier over your table. And some people even incorporate small table lamps into their kitchen for mood and decoration.

Bathroom Lighting

Bathrooms also require many layers of light – overhead, above the vanity, in the bath and shower area and in the water closet. In a powder room, you may be able to use just a single fixture in the center of the room or mounted above the mirror. But in a master bathroom and other bathrooms where people will be dressing and getting ready for their day, you’ll need more lighting. In a master suite, you may have a combination of recessed lighting, chandeliers, ceiling-mount fixtures, sconces and wall-mount bathroom lights.

Here’s a good rule of thumb when lighting a vanity area. Aim to fully surround the face with flattering light by installing a fixture that is at least 24 inches wide above the vanity mirror (for a single vanity). Combine that with a pair of sconces mounted on either side of the mirror, at least 28 inches apart and 5 feet above the floor.

If you have a double vanity, opt for a bathroom light fixture that is almost as wide as the mirror or vanity. It should be centered above the mirror, about 6 ½ feet from the floor.

For safety, when installing lighting in bathing areas, make sure that someone standing in the tub or shower cannot reach it.

Bedroom Lighting

Bedrooms are great places to let your lighting personality shine. Ceiling mount and semi-flush mount fixtures are the typical choices for bedrooms, but we really love the look of a chandelier above a bed.

Chandeliers in children’s rooms can make your daughter feel like a princess. (Just be sure to mount those hanging fixtures in kid’s room high enough so they don’t bump their heads when they jump on the bed. Because kids will jump on the bed, even if their parents tell them not to do so.)

The bedroom is another space where layers of light are important. In addition to overhead lighting, you’ll probably want to add in lamps in seating areas. Most people have lamps beside their bed for nighttime reading, but we also love to see small chandeliers hung over nightstands. It’s such a glamorous look, and it’s functional too because it frees up table space – more rooms for books and decorating!

When hanging chandeliers over nightstands, a good rule of thumb is to make sure they’re no larger than half the width of the table.

Sconces are another great choice in a bedroom, especially when used to highlight artwork, mirrors or architectural features. If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace in your bedroom, consider flanking it with a pair of sconces.

Dining Room Lighting

Dining rooms and chandeliers go hand in hand. Chandeliers add drama, ambiance, and set the stage for elegance throughout the entire home.

In most spaces, you’ll want to use the dimensions of the room to determine what size chandelier you need. (See “Lighting Basics by Crystorama” for more information on this.) You can use that same formula in the dining room, too, but if you already have a table, we recommend you choose your chandelier size based on the size of your table. The diameter should be about half the width of your table.

While a central chandelier is the common choice for a dining room, we also love the look of hanging several chandeliers or pendants over a long table, just as you might light an island or peninsula in a kitchen.

When hanging lights above your dining table, keep in mind that the bottom of the chandelier should be no lower than 30 inches above the tabletop.

Sconces are another great choice for the dining room to highlight artwork or mirrors or flanking fireplaces or windows. And don’t forget about lamps. A great pair of buffet lamps on a server provides both beauty and function.

Many people use their dining rooms for more than just dining. They can double as home offices, craft rooms and homework stations, so bring in task lighting as appropriate.

Because dining rooms are multi-functional spaces that are used day and night, you may want to consider installing a dimmer. Today, dining rooms are used for so much more than dining. It’s nice to be able to turn the lights up when working on a project at the dining room table. For a dinner party, light some candles and turn down the lights to create an intimate feel.

Lighting for Living Spaces

Living spaces, like living rooms, dens, playrooms, momcaves, mancaves, basements, home offices, and home theater rooms can be the busiest rooms in the house. When it comes to lighting, pretty much anything goes and works in these spaces.

Here, you really need to evaluate how a room will be used and choose the lighting accordingly. Be sure to follow the formula (“Lighting Basics by Crystorama”) to make sure you have the appropriate illumination for the space. Then, spend some time thinking about how the space is used by the different members of  your family. Employ layers of light, including chandeliers and hanging fixtures, lamps, recessed lighting and sconces, for general and task illumination.

Foyer Lighting

The foyer is the first impression most guests will have of your home, and you want to make a good one. The furnishings and fixtures in the foyer should set the tone for your entire décor. They should be welcoming, beautiful and eye-catching.

A statement chandelier or light is a perfect choice for a foyer. In fact, you will traditionally see a chandelier in the foyer of most homes. Even though chandeliers in foyers are traditional, the chandelier you chose does not have to be traditional in style. There are many transitional and modern options available, and you should choose a statement light that fits your home and decorating style. Make it striking!

When choosing a hanging fixture for your foyer, use the dimensions of the room to calculate the appropriate size of the chandelier. (“Lighting Basics by Crystorama”) When hanging your chandelier make sure it is at least 7 feet above the floor. Therefore, the ceiling height may dictate what kind of light you choose for this space: chandelier, ceiling mount or semi-flush mount. A foyer with a vaulted ceiling or that is open to the second floor may require a multi-tiered chandelier.

Many homes have a window in the foyer above the front door. If you do, hang your chandelier so it is centered in the window and can be seen from the outside. This adds to the welcoming atmosphere you create for your houseguests. However, bear in mind that it must still be proportioned correctly inside your home.

Depending on the size of your foyer, you may want to include sconces in the space, mounted at least 5 feet from the floor and 6 to 8 feet apart.

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Author Wendy Weinert

Wendy Weinert

Wendy Weinert is an HGTV addict and avid DIYer. When not working on a craft project, as an interior design blogger and enthusiast, she is passionately helping people beautify their environment by providing insightful advice and inspiration.