Lighting Tips by Room

Kitchen Lighting Tips

  • Kitchen lighting should be designed around the individual tasks performed in a kitchen. The counters are the primary task areas in the kitchen.
  • Position recessed lighting fixtures on both sides of the primary work area to eliminate shadows.
  • Downlights should be positioned over the counters but should be positioned so that they are in front of the person working at the counter.
  • Placing the downlights behind the person creates shadows.
  • Pendant lighting is a great way to enhance a particular area of a room with a decorative fixture while creating a focal point on a counter or on a dinner table.
  • Pendant lights which use halogen light bulbs enrich the colors of the illuminated area and bring a small focal point without intruding into other areas of the space.
  • Adjustable pendants which can be customized allow the user to adjust the pendant to the counter or table height.
    • This is important to achieve the right balance.
    • Too close and it may be in the way of food preparation or other tasks and too far away it may lose the intended punch it was intended to create.
  • If the pendants are used over work areas be sure you use at least two to minimize shadows.
  • When choosing a chandelier choose one that's the right size and style for your room.
    • A good rule of thumb is to hang a chandelier 30-34 inches above the dining table.
    • If it's used to illuminate the table try to find a chandelier that has a downlight component.
    • Hanging a chandelier too low can create glare which can be bothersome to you and your guests.
    • In ceilings higher than 8 feet the chandelier can be mounted closer to the ceiling.
  • Use undercabinet lights to increase the task lighting over the counters and fill in the shadows created by overhead kitchen cabinets.



    • A common method to light bathrooms is to place a bath bar fixture or strip ( fixture with multiple bulbs) above the sink.
    • This method creates shadows and makes it more difficult to see areas below the nose, chin and neck.
    • A more effective method is to place bath bar lights on either side of the mirror to effectively eliminate shadows and add brightness to the facial area.
    • A diffuse source such as a warm fluorescent (2700° K) or a well shielded incandescent with frosted light bulbs is also more effective in eliminating shadows.
    • The lights should be placed at eye level on either side of the vanity mirror..
    • Using sconces on either side of the vanity mirror also adds to the interior design of the bathroom.
    • An overhead fixture can be used as a design element and for general illumination.
    • Recessed lighting is also a good choice but should not be used as a sole source of lighting.
    • Use multiple switching for the fixtures in the bathroom and add a dimmer for those relaxing times in a bath.
    • When adding a dimmer be sure it's suitable for the light fixture and light bulb you want to dim.
    • Use a bathroom fan to draw out the moisture from your bathroom.
  • Find one which is suitable for your size bathroom and has the quietest motor.
  • Place it close to the source of moisture.
  • Many fans now come with lights and you should include it you lighting plans.



Lighting Design Tips for the Dining Room 

Dining room lighting should be both beautiful and functional. This requires a mix of general, task, and accent lighting that can set the mood for a number of functions, including a formal dinner, a family get-together, and other activities such as homework, hobbies, or family bookkeeping. Dimming controls will enable you to vary the light for each occasion (see lighting controls).


A chandelier is the focal point of the dining room. Suspended over the dining table, it serves as a decorative style element that enhances the beauty of your fine furnishings. When the light is dimmed, a soft, glowing atmosphere similar to candlelight is created. If equipped with a downlight, the chandelier provides task lighting for the table and accent lighting for a centerpiece.

A buffet or sideboard can be flanked with wall sconces on either side. Choose fixtures that complement the style of your chandelier. 



Lighting Design Tips for the Kitchen

The kitchen is primarily a work area, but it is also a gathering place for family and friends. Lighting that is comfortable as well as functional is required.

Dinettes, nooks, and island counters can be lighted with decorative pendants. When used with a dimmer control, these ceiling-hung fixtures will provide you with adequate task lighting 
for homework, hobbies, or family business and allow you to lower the light for dining or entertaining (see lighting controls).

Undercabinet lighting is ideal for countertops. Mount as close to the front of the cabinets as possible to avoid glare reflecting off work surfaces. 



Lighting Design Tips for the Bedroom

When lighting a bedroom, you will want to create an overall atmosphere of quiet relaxation, while providing some bright spots for reading and other activities. A combination of general and task lighting that takes into account the age and lifestyle of the occupant(s) is needed. Remember, dimming controls give you the flexibility to vary the light to suit different moods and activities.

General lighting can be provided by ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, fan lights, recessed downlights, or wall sconces, giving you the illumination you need to dress and see into drawers and closets.


Swing-arm wall lamps on either side of the bed will provide adequate light for reading, while leaving night stands free for a clock-radio, books, or beverages.


Lighting Design Tips for the Bathroom
In the bathroom lighting, you need plenty of even, shadow-free lighting for shaving, grooming, and applying makeup. In small bathrooms, mirror lights will illuminate the entire room, but in larger bathrooms, an additional ceiling fixture is needed for general lighting. A recessed infrared heat lamp will give you added warmth on chilly mornings.



Lighting Design Tips for Outdoors 

Outdoor lighting enhances the beauty of your property, makes your home safer and more secure, and increases the number of pleasurable hours you spend outdoors. And it is an investment that pays off handsomely in the value it adds to your home.


A well-lighted front entrance enables you to greet guests and identify visitors. Wall lanterns on each side of the door will give your home a warm, welcoming look, while assuring the safety of those who enter. Under a porch or other overhang, you can use recessed, chain-hung, or close-to-ceiling fixtures. A separate rear or side entrance can be lighted with a single wall lantern installed on the keyhole side of the door. To conserve energy, consider post and wall lanterns that use new compact fluorescent or high-intensity discharge light sources such as mercury vapor or high pressure sodium.



Design tips contents provided by American Lighting Association

The American Lighting Association is a trade association representing the lighting industry. Its membership includes lighting and fan manufacturers, retail showrooms, sales representatives and lighting designers dedicated to providing the public with the proper application of quality residential lighting.

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