When designing their new homes, so many people leave lighting design as an afterthought. But the truth is, lighting will set the mood for your entire house and having a well thought out plan about your lighting fixtures can make an average-looking room seem beautiful.
However, if you’ve never dabbled in the world of lighting design, it all might seem overwhelming at first. But don’t worry, help is on the way. After you finish reading this guide, you’ll become a master of lighting schemes and know everything there is about lighting design.
How to Design a Lighting Scheme
Before you call the electrician, you should first figure out how you want things done and which fixtures you want to install. To start, there are four main questions you should ask yourself:
- How am I going to use this space?
- What kind of furniture is going inside the room?
- Does the room get any natural sunlight during the day?
- When am I going to be in this space — during the day or night?
By asking yourself how you’re going to use the space, it’ll be much easier to determine which type of lighting you need to get. Also, before you can install any fixtures, think about the furniture or art pieces you want to draw attention to. For example, if you have a beautiful painting or fireplace, you might want to make them the focal point of the room.
If your rooms get a lot of natural sunlight or have big windows in them, you might not need to install a lot of lighting fixtures. What’s more, thinking about how much time you spend in a certain room and when you spend it will help you figure out a good lighting scheme.
Put It on Paper
To ensure that the electrician follows your design, you should put it on paper. Better yet, grab your floor plans and sketch where you want to put all of the fixtures. You could make little symbols for the different types of lighting fixtures and bulbs you want to use.
While you have your floorplan with you, you can write down where all your furniture is going to go and where the electrical outlets are. Furthermore, you should write down what your main light source will be and work around it to ensure a good lighting flow.
Things to Consider
Before you make your final decisions, consider how high the ceilings are. For example, recessed lights might seem like a good idea, but they won’t work on high ceilings because of how difficult it would be to change the light bulbs.
Also, think about who else is living with you. Do you have any pets or small kids? If so, putting wired standing lamps isn’t a good choice because someone could easily knock them down. In that scenario, your best option is to buy wireless fixtures to ensure everyone’s safety.
Setting up a Lighting Scheme
While you’re in the process of designing your lighting scheme, you should think about how and where you’re going to install the fixtures. Also, consider how many electrical outlets you have and how many of them you want to spare for your lighting fixtures.
Some types of lighting fixtures, like recessed fittings, will require you to hardwire them into the wall. So, if you don’t own the home you live in, hardwiring lighting fixtures might not be a good idea, because you don’t know what the owners will think — they’re pretty permanent.
To create the best possible mood and make the most out of your light scheme, don’t connect more than two lights to your wall-mount. Furthermore, if you can, fit each room with multiple circuits to ensure you get the type of lighting you want.
Dimmers are a budget-friendly option if you can’t or don’t want to spend money on multiple different fittings. In fact, if you want to go from ambient to accent lighting in a matter of moments, you should consider getting dimmers.
Types of Lighting
To create a cohesive and upscale look, you need to experiment with different types of lighting. Each of them has a unique purpose and will give every room a specific vibe. So, by layering your room with different fixtures, you can feature its main parts and create the mood that you want.
But don’t worry; mixing and matching your lights doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you plan ahead and know what you want to buy, you can find some amazing fixtures at great prices.
Ambient lighting, which is more commonly known as general lighting, serves as a primary light source in your home. It’s the foundation for all the other lighting types you’re going to add later on. What’s more, it should provide enough light to illuminate your entire room without creating too much glare.
You can accomplish ambient lighting by using recessed and track lights, chandeliers, large pendants, and wall-mounted fixtures. Which fixture you end up using should depend on what kind of room it is and who uses it most.
Task lighting’s main purpose is right there in the name — it should give you enough light to perform certain tasks. For example, if you have a home office or study, you’ll need table lamps so you can see what you’re doing or reading.
On the other hand, task lighting is also the main component in kitchens. For the kitchen, you could use some linear fixtures like LED tracks. Also, if you have a beauty room or salon, you could use vanity mirrors that have small LED lights in them.
Now, accent lighting is used when you want to make a room feel more dynamic by adding more drama to it and featuring a key component. In simple terms, it’s a warm and pleasant light that will bring attention to something in your room.
For example, if you have a sculpture or painting that you want to showcase in your home, you could use directional track lighting. Also, some other excellent examples of fixtures for accent lighting are LED strips and low-level chandeliers.
Fourth Layer of Illumination — Decorative Lighting
The best way to make your home more stylish is by adding decorative lighting. You can use it to highlight different points of the room and bring out its best features. Most often, you wouldn’t use decorative lighting as your main source of light. However, you could use it for accent or task lighting.
You can buy a sconce in pretty much every color, shape, size, and it can fit almost any budget. A wall sconce will give your room that sparkle it needs while providing lots of light. If you want to make the most out of it, you should install the sconce in your bathroom or kitchen, where you can use it for both ambient or accent lighting.
Most people think that they can only use chandeliers for ambient lighting, but they work great as decorative fixtures, too. Also, chandeliers come in a wide variety of sizes and styles, so you can pick and choose what works best for you. If you have a smaller home, you could get a chandelette or mini chandelier that’ll add the perfect amount of glamour to any room.
Pendants are basically smaller sconces hanging from the ceiling. They can provide you with a lot of ambient lighting and they’re a great addition to almost any dining room. Also, you can use them for task lighting above the desk in your study or for your kids’ room. Pendants come in a wide variety of different styles and sizes and they won’t set you back a fortune.
Floor and Table Lamps
Lamps are the most versatile type of lighting fixture in any home. Depending on which lamps you get, you can use them for any type of lighting around your home. For example, floor lamps add the perfect amount of ambient lighting, while table lamps are perfect for any task. You can also customize them and get different bases or shades whenever you want to mix things up a bit.
Types of Lighting Fittings
You should choose a lighting fitting based on what the light sources in your room are. Do you want your fixtures to be the key point of your room or do you want them hidden away? Also, you should consider what kind of style you’re going for. Even though you can mix, for example, track lighting with a vintage design, you need to be careful when designing if you want to create a cohesive look.
Recessed fixtures are made up of three components: housing, trim, and bulb, and they’re installed directly into the wall or ceiling. They do require a lot of hardwiring, but are extremely subtle and work in any room. What’s more, depending on which ones you get, you can use recessed fixtures for all types of lighting situations.
Similar to the recessed type, architectural fixtures are also installed into the wall or ceiling and need to be hardwired. Most often, they’re used for ambient lighting and you can get them in three different types: valance, soffit, and cove.
You can use track lights to power floodlights, spotlights, and pendant lights and they come in different shapes and sizes. Unlike recessed fittings, you don’t have to hardwire them and you can keep your sightlines clear. They are the perfect choice if you want to illuminate multiple rooms at the same time while creating a cohesive look.
Most often, under-cabinet lights are installed in kitchens and they’re extremely cost-effective. You can get them as round-shaped or linear fixtures, and they’re a great example of task lighting.
Types of Light Bulbs
Once you know which lighting fixtures you want, you’re about halfway done. The next, and possibly most crucial step, is picking out the light bulb. Before you get any light bulb, you should consider which room it’s going in and which fixture you’re putting it in.
Also, another thing to consider is what type of lighting you’re going for. If you need a light bulb for task lighting, it has to be brighter than the one you’d use for accent lighting.
LED light bulbs are the most energy-efficient type on the entire list. Most of them can last up to 25,000 hours and they come with warranties of up to three years. You can put them in pretty much any lighting fixture, because they’re pretty versatile and give off a warm, but strong light.
CFL bulbs can last up to 10,000 hours and are a perfect fit for all your task lighting needs. However, over the past few years, CFL bulbs have lost a lot of their popularity because of their LED counterparts.
Incandescent light bulbs are pretty much on their way out because they’re not as efficient as LED or CFL. Nowadays, it’s really tough to get them at most stores and they’re usually available just for special-purpose use.
Halogen light bulbs were the original replacement for the incandescent type because they’re much more energy-efficient and have a longer lifespan. They are completely dimmable and shine a bright, white light, perfect for chandeliers or pendant lights.
Designing the lighting scheme in your home doesn’t need to be difficult, as long as you take it one step at a time. First, ask yourself what kind of mood you’re going for and how and when you’re going to use that space.
Then, slowly start figuring out where you want to put your fixtures and which type of lighting you want to achieve. If you follow your vision and go slowly, your lighting scheme is sure to be a huge success.